While many government employees benefit from professional association membership, federal and state statutes may prohibit or limit the reimbursement of annual dues or registration fees such memberships require. According to 5 U.S.C. 5757(a), federal agencies may only pay the expenses required for licensure within a particular profession. Moreover, agencies cannot pay the expenses for professional association membership unless membership is required for obtaining a professional license or certification. Therefore, a significant population of the government workforce that may benefit from joining an association elect not to if they are financially responsible.
In a targeted effort to increase association participation from government employees, several associations are developing alternative membership categories including free memberships and group memberships. For example, certain associations offer a membership category aimed at government employees that allows free membership for three years. After the three-year period, members can continue their participation as paying members or stop participating.
Alternatively, group memberships allow small groups to join rather than an individual. This membership strategy may alleviate some of cost associated with individual memberships. Smaller associations whose main revenue source is membership dues may benefit the most from group memberships.
This set of untapped government employees remains an appealing membership target for associations of all sizes. Determining an appropriate strategy to increase membership among this group is key to any association’s long-term growth.