Increasingly, consumers, whether they be voters, shoppers, investors, clients, suppliers, or, yes, potential members, are looking you over. Each day. Actually, every moment of every day. They are looking for proof you are, who you say you are. They are looking at, and for, your Values.

You see, it isn’t enough anymore to just produce something, take it to market, and price it right. You, your brand, your company, your product, your Membership Organization, needs to mean something, needs to represent – authentically, your Values in Action.

Here are 5 Values your potential members are looking for:

1) Vision

Vision refers to knowing what your goals and objectives are and having a clear plan for achieving those goals. Vision is an important core value. Vision is what powers your organization, clarifies and empowers your management and governance. Vision clarifies communications and drives program development. And, if your members agree with your Vision, they are aligned with you, and your organization. They see themselves as participants in your success, and you in theirs. They feel confident you will make the right choices, and help them, in turn, achieve as well.

Vision drives Advocacy, which, in turn, creates Influence. And Membership Organizations must be, and be seen to be, influential. Members want you to represent them on key issues, to be their voice to senior decision-makers, and to have an impact on important policy and legislation which can affect them, as professionals, and, as people.

2) Service

Service, a sense of obligation and concern for others, and a willingness to help, support and mentor, is the Value that drives Programming. After all, membership organizations are mandated to serve their members, to provide them with experiences and expertise, required to pursue their goals and dreams. Often, this means education or professional development programs. But, it can also mean, providing a much needed forum for career postings – a place where they can recruit, or be recruited, or a place where they can feel comfortable about seeking some counsel and mentorship, from people they not only trust, but respect.

Quite frankly, if your organization doesn’t exude a sense of service, you’re probably in trouble already, if not, essentially, out of business. You need to serve your members. Ask them what they want, figure out what they need, and take it from there. Offer them something they simply can’t get anywhere else, simply because no one else understands them, or could be bothered trying to. Remember, Service drives Programming. And, Programming drives Membership.

3) Resilience

Resilience is the ability to face adversity and quickly recover from setbacks, challenges and obstacles that you encounter. It is important for membership organizations to be resilient because they face several challenges and obstacles in achieving their goals. Building resilience can help you effectively address challenges or issues when they occur and lead to improved efficiency and productivity.

Resilience also lends itself, more specifically, to Adaptability. The ability to shift, quickly, by always being willing to accept, and then respond to, change when it occurs. Adaptability is crucial. In a world where people like to think of themselves, in a positive sense, as ‘Disruptors’, you had better be able to think, and move, on your feet, and to motivate others to do the same. No space is safe from competition. If there is an opportunity to be explored, and you don’t explore it first, or don’t explore it effectively, someone else will.

4) Integrity

While we often hear words like ‘transparency’, or ‘honesty’, ‘Integrity’ is much more important, much more encompassing. Integrity is a Value, not an indication, or representation, of a value. Integrity shows itself in all the things you do. Integrity is revealed through management that is responsive, accessible and approachable. Integrity is expressed in financial operations that are efficient, and beyond reproach, if not suspicion. In an organization which reflects Integrity, there aren’t a lot of request for audits, or second-guessing of administrative practices, simply because such reviews are welcomed, and invited.

Integrity is also reflected in the simplicity and transparency of Governance. Given the importance of such values as Vision and Service, all available resources, including the time commitment of volunteers, is allocated, first and foremost, to achieving, living and breathing, the organization’s mission and mandate. Governance is not an end in itself. Governance exists only to ensure members are represented, and active, in the oversight process. Governance with Integrity is streamlined, intentional and effective.

5) Passion

Passion, in Membership Organizations that excel, is palpable. Members can sense the feeling of fulfillment and motivation that drives you to continue to work to achieve your goals even when you face challenges or unexpected setbacks. This Passion is seen by members, staff, stakeholders, suppliers and governments, with whom you interact. Passion creates Culture, which results in greater productivity and influence.

Passion reflects a sense of Dedication to a specific task, principle or goal. Dedication which ensures people follow through on promises and pushing through challenges to achieve goals. Passion involves Empathy. The ability to understand the feelings and emotions of others and to respond. A core component of emotional intelligence, Empathy builds connections, enabling you to engage with others successfully and genuinely.

Values-Based Success

Just as the world’s most important brands, and corporations, work hard to ensure their Values align with their customers and stakeholders, so too, membership organizations must present themselves authentically, and respectfully, to those they wish to serve. It begins with Vision, extends through Service, responds with Resilience, and demonstrates Integrity, energized by an unparalleled sense of Passion.

Membership organizations, developing and living by their core values on a daily basis, can usher in a new era of achievement and progress, taking a leadership role, in the renewal of social capital, and the creation of sustainable futures.


Paul McKay

Paul McKay, CAE is Senior Consultant with McKay Associates. The concepts presented in this article are based on research published in the Government Finance Review, as originally sponsored by the Government Finance Officers Association. Paul can be reached through LinkedIn @