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Guiding organizations to membership success

Annual conference fills the plate for tripartite staff, volunteers

May 07, 2012

By Karen Fox, ADA News staff

The ADA set the table for nearly 140 guests March 30-31, drawing tripartite and dental organization volunteers and staff to ADA Headquarters for the 2012 Annual Conference on Membership Recruitment and Retention.

With the theme of Membership Success: Key Ingredients for Creating and Communicating Membership Value, attendees were given a taste of the many resources that promote member benefits that translate into new members, reinstated members and better retention rates. For this year’s conference, the ADA Council on Membership encouraged attendees to consider member perception of value as a key success factor in membership growth.

“The tripartite is doing a great job both learning and growing,” said Dr. Nancy Rosenthal, council chair. “A key goal that we have as an organization is to address ways to express value to members, and there are more and more resources that serve that purpose. We have better membership programs as a result.”

The future of organized dentistry is in focus for Dr. Jay Cho, New York State Dental Association, at the Annual Conference on Membership Recruitment and Retention.

ADA President William Calnon was on hand to facilitate a workshop where dental societies exchanged information on the challenges and opportunities they face. “Thank you for your passion for our profession and our Association,” Dr. Calnon told attendees. He further encouraged them “to get some pearls to take home.”

Keynote and other speakers covered a wide range of topics that included enhancing member value through diversity and inclusion, leveraging ADA initiatives to create member value, and workshops on new dentists, customer service and more.

Attendees exchanged ideas, received practical solutions and left recharged with a sharpened focus on recruitment and retention.

Dr. Katie Garvin of Georgia’s Central District Dental Society said the conference gave her ideas on reaching out to nonmembers in a more meaningful way, and the importance of making membership “more of a personal experience and not just business as usual.” As the Georgia Dental Association’s new dentist liaison for 2012-13, Dr. Garvin was also interested in learning more about effective recruitment of new dentist members.

“It’s important to bridge the transition between being a student member and being a practicing dentist member. That will ensure less new dentists getting lost in the shuffle,” she said. “I think that is critical to the success of growing the ADA.”

“It is interesting to see the trends in membership, to see what is working and what isn’t, and to know that others are doing all they can for the ADA at a local level,” Dr. Scott Szotko, chair of the California Dental Association’s Council on Membership, said of the conference.

One way the CDA is providing added value to its members is by implementing a new service in which a concierge welcomes a new member and gains feedback throughout the member’s first year. “This way, we can see the areas in which we are strong and the areas where we need to improve,” said Dr. Szotko. “The new member then feels they are of value to the association and not just a name, number or another dollar.”

Anthony Ferreri, director of member services at the Nevada Dental Association, called the 2012 Annual Conference on Membership Recruitment and Retention “the best yet.”

“I appreciated the time that I was given to mingle with my peers and share ideas and information,” said Mr. Ferreri. “The breakout session, The End of Membership As We Know It, was relevant to what we face daily in our jobs. It definitely created a dialogue that is still ongoing between myself and some friends from dental associations and societies from across the country.”

Jay Dziwlik, assistant executive director of the Indiana Dental Association, said he “probably learns as much in the halls or between sessions just asking other states how they handle challenges and successes. I never walk away empty-handed from this conference.”

He’s also taken to heart some words from ADA Executive Director Kathleen O’Loughlin during her presentation, Best Practice: Recipes for Membership Success.

“Dr. O’Loughlin said we are at a turning point as an association, and we are faced with the challenge of becoming relevant one member at a time,” said Mr. Dziwlik.

“This, paired with the fact that 54.9 percent of members are over age 50, gave me an urgency to invest in future membership,” he continued. “Indiana leaders, staff and volunteers are starting to come to terms with the new reality of these brutal facts by looking at new leadership development programming and engaging more women dentists, new dentists and ethnically diverse dentists in ways we never have before.”