The ideal member is an individual who engages the organization on a consistent basis, utilizes benefits, participates in programs, attends events, is an ambassador for the organization, and embodies mission success. And we would like for all of our members to be ideal, but in reality our members’ level of involvement will span from ideal to “in name only” (INO) members on the other end of the spectrum. While members have every right to choose their level of involvement with an organization, we often look at those who do not fit our definition of "ideal' with disdain, especially INO members. It is ok if a member wants to be “in name only.” They still bring much value to the organization.
“In name only” is not the direct antonym to “ideal”. An INO member does not engage the organization consistently or participate in benefits, programs or events. However, they can still be great ambassadors for your organization and embodying mission success. A member may not attend your meetings, but can encourage others to. A student member may not participate in your academic excellence programs, but still maintain a 4.0 GPA.
The Monetary Value
There is a cost associated with servicing members and providing programs. This cost is usually absorbed into the cost of membership. When a member elects to not participate in certain programs or services, then the cost association with servicing that member is saved by the organization and can then be used in other areas of need. Your INO members essentially become donor-members.
Strength in Numbers
Every member that you collect adds weight to your mission and gives you a stronger proposition to make to donors, supporters, foundations, business partners, and potential members. Greater membership numbers shows a greater mission relevancy to foundations and supporters. It solidifies your value to prospects and creates more potential for business partners. For example, advertisers sell audiences, not customers, because they understand that they can’t guarantee individuals will buy what’s being sold. The larger your audience (your membership) the more you can generate in ad sales.
INO members can be great advocates for your organization. They do provide a monetary value, even if they don’t account for any non-dues revenue. They also strengthen our ability to push the mission of the organization. So before we chastise and castigate your INO members for not being ideal, understand the value that they provide.