Patricia (Trish) A. Hudson, MPsSc, a practicing community psychologist, is the founder and president of the Melos Institute. She has over forty years of experience working in, with, and for membership-based organizations (MBOs) and other types of nonprofit organizations at the local, state, national, and international levels. In addition to working with MBOs representing a wide range of professions, trades, and personal avocations in the United States, she has also provided similar support to MBOs in Eastern Europe, South Asia, and the Middle East.

Title by Patricia A. Hudson, MPsSc

  • The Member Engagement Paradox by Patricia A. Hudson, MPsSc

    by Patricia A. Hudson, MPsSc

    Voluntary associations have existed in America for over two hundred years. More recently, scholars have been analyzing their governance and management practices as a singular population of organizations. By doing so, their efforts have, unintentionally, overlooked the fact that within this sector, a special type of nonprofit organization exists that operates differently from the rest: membership-based organizations (MBOs). These organizations are established voluntarily by individuals seeking to advance their respective professions, trades, and personal avocations. MBOs represent nearly every segment and sector of our society. Their efforts have played and continue to play a consequential role in shaping America.

    MBOs provide opportunities that enable their members to develop and strengthen their competencies and capacities in very personal and professional ways. Yet, their ability to achieve this desired outcome has been hampered by their inability to get the vast majority of their members to engage fully. For decades, volunteer and staff leaders have believed this to be a contemporary problem; their members don’t engage because they are “too busy.” And yet recent research, conducted by the Melos Institute, has discovered that member engagement has been a persistent challenge…since at least the late 1880s! And, despite its chronic existence, a lasting solution exists. Shockingly, it’s been hidden in plain sight.

    Written for volunteer and staff leaders of MBOs, The Member Engagement Paradox: Overcoming 7 Obstacles to Build and Maintain Thriving Membership Communities reveals the underlying root causes of why members don’t engage — or engage fully — in their associations. Drawing from members’ stories, actual experiences reported from volunteer and staff histories, accounts from MBOs’ published histories, as well as her own professional experiences, Patricia A. Hudson, MPsSc maintains the reason that most members fail to engage is not because of their availability but is instead due to their lack of familiarity of how to make the most of their membership.

    Based on these findings, she advises that the solution to increasing, expanding, and sustaining a high degree of member engagement is having MBOs adapt existing and adopt new management processes and practices that are relation-centered rather than transactional. To do that, Hudson introduces a management model (Relation-centered Management/RCM) uniquely designed to help MBOs’ volunteer and staff leaders deliver more meaningful and purposeful experiences to their members. Hudson reveals seven key assumptions that have hampered MBOs from experiencing greater engagement. And, offers some very simple actions, employed by volunteer and staff leaders, which have already proven effective at generating a high degree of member involvement. By employing RCM, Hudson also shows how increased engagement bolsters MBOs’ ability to achieve their goals and advance their mission.

    The Member Engagement Paradox: Overcoming 7 Obstacles to Build and Maintain Thriving Membership Communities offers an unparalleled insight into the purpose, focus, goals, and operations of MBOs in America. It also gives association management professionals greater clarity into the consequential role that they have and must play in helping their members advance individually and collectively within their respective professions, trades, and personal avocations…and at a time when their members, representing nearly every sector and segment of our society, are being confronted with some very serious threats and challenges.