Engagement. While the term means different things to different organizations (we have our own definition, too), you’re probably reading this because you understand how essential it is. Broadly defined, engagement is activity, and for your association, the activity between your organization and the member, as well as the member-to-member interaction your association provides that drives membership value.
When it’s time for a member to renew, engagement can mean the difference between leaving and staying. An engaged member is an active member, and the effort to keep members active is ongoing and ever evolving. Every organization is unique, so we’ve put together six different tactics any organization can try to ensure members don’t become stagnant.
Engage their brains
Discovering ways to engage your members in the electrical synapses of their brains isn’t as challenging as you might think. Members are already interested in going beyond their day-to-day activities since they’ve been moved to join your association.
1. Host a Ted Talk-type event
This can involve reaching beyond the normal social circle of association leaders as you look for engaging speakers on a local level. You don’t have to book a professional speaker to create an engaging event. The primary aim of a Ted Talk is to spread ideas, and your association’s membership is an excellent resource. Consider using your members and their social circles when searching for speakers. You can even create a spotlight on a featured member series. This type of event is great for sparking inspiration and thought-provoking ideas among your members. Your local library or civic center is another resource for potential speakers – check recent events for special guests.
2. Host a partner event
Another way to engage your members’ brains is to host an event where your association and a partner or like-minded organization combine efforts. You can celebrate a milestone, a recent launch, or host a fundraising event. An example is a medical association partnering with a children’s hospital for an ice cream social. Think about other local organizations whose missions are similar to yours and reach out to them. These shared events are great ways for like-minded people to network and socialize, while also learning what other organizations are working on. Perhaps your members will discover new reasons to be dedicated to your mission, or maybe you’ll add some new members, but either way, everyone will feel engaged and a little more supported.
Engage their hearts
Speaking to the core values of your members is a tactic for engagement that can work wonders.
3. Organize philanthropic activities
Volunteer opportunities can increase member interaction on several levels. Association leaders can utilize heavily involved volunteers with the opportunity to organize the event. Taking on a leadership role deepens their connection to the association. Philanthropic activities don’t have to be fundraisers. Options like organizing a trash cleanup at a park or a care package drive for soldiers are excellent examples of philanthropy that bring members together for a cause larger than any single person. The kinship members experience after being part of something unerringly good will resonate amongst them long after the event has ended.
4. Let members host a social media takeover
On a more direct level, each of your members has a personal journey and perhaps a strong reason for connecting with and joining your association. Increasing interaction by allowing them to share and promote those personal stories through a social media takeover for a day. This provides them with a way to feel the impact of their role within the association, as well as simply having fun controlling the messaging. Human interest stories are the most compelling, and there may be members who are unaware of each other’s story. Creating more natural bonds within your membership provides value in letting members connect with each other. This is a wonderful chance to mix the heart and humanity of your members with the mission of the association to create something long lasting.
Engage their fun side
Everyone wants time to kick back and relax. That may mean something different for each of your members, but there’s almost always fun angle. Create some icebreaker activities that make it easy for members to interact in a group setting and let the good times roll.
5. Host a book club or game night
Book clubs are often successful among members because they create a goal and a deadline while building itself into the routine of the participants. They also offer the added benefit of creating an online discussion. Members can interact via a forum or discussion board about each book. You can facilitate book selection using online polls. It’s an activity with multiple opportunities for engaging members. If books aren’t a good fit, try a local game night (or day). Members can vote on a game, or you can have a selection of classic games available like Pictionary and Trivial Pursuit that don’t require a lot of rules learning time; even charades are fun for keeping the entire group entertained or fostering team building. A variety of games that have broad appeal, like Jenga and Apples to Apples, are a blast for when splinter groups want to play on their own. Looking for something outdoors? A scavenger hunt during the day creates the perfect opportunity for members to interact in teams.
6. Offer members-only giveaways or awards
Spice up those game nights or any other event by including members-only giveaways and contests. Association leaders can gamify initiatives with awards and friendly competition. For example, a member is awarded for being the first to reach a goal for volunteer hours. If you really want to do something special, host an awards show with customized award names to speak to your membership. Volunteer Hero and Donation Champion are sample award ideas. You can choose to hand out awards for all membership activities during an annual or quarterly meeting to highlight the period.
We know there are many more tactics that lead to improved member engagement. Let us know what’s worked for your organization in the comments below!
memberplanet is exhibiting our membership management software at the 2019 FEA Annual Meeting, May 29 - May 31, at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas.
What Your Fraternal Community Can Do With memberplanet
Come to Booth #219 to learn more!
See you in Las Vegas!
You’ve invested your time and efforts in managing your PTA, all with the goal of improving the lives of children in your community. Now it’s time to pass on the torch – and all the knowledge you’ve gained – so that the future leaders and administrators of your organization can build upon the great work you’ve done. How can you set them up for success? Our 5 Keys to a Successful Officer Transition is what you need to know to make the most of this critical transition.
1. Demonstrate value
To get someone acclimated to a new role, you’ll need to go through their necessary tasks. For every specific skill or task to be instructed to your unit officers, explain first what it is you’re about to share. More importantly, explain why it is important for your PTA. Even seemingly menial tasks (such as setting up back-to-school registration packets) have high impact on achieving the unit's goals. Why are such tasks significant? How do they affect the overall success of the unit? It’s important to give a sense of the workflow (not necessarily the hierarchy) of the unit and the officer’s role within it.
“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”
While demonstrating, use real-life examples that have been taken from day-to-day experience and practice, as well as visual references to give context. Provide simple instructions. Make it relatable and fun, and be sure to frequently check for questions.
2. Observe and adjust
You’ve provided the instructions. Now have your new board or incoming officer show you how to do it. The “Each One Teach One” principle applies here. As you’re observing, adjust the course when necessary. Encourage and empathize with them, keeping in mind that you were once new to the role as well.
3. Tailor the training
We all have our individual quirks, and personality will eventually be revealed, especially in the course of training. Make time to discover your officers’ own skills, unique experiences, and new strengths they bring to the unit. But be sure to recognize their different ways of learning, and be open to let them take ownership of their roles.
Grow your unit officers. Assign sample scenario tasks (e.g. planning an upcoming fundraising event, a membership drive, or volunteer opportunity) and see how they deliver. Let them own it. It’s like the bonsai trees in Mr. Miyagi’s workshop. You have strong roots and all kinds of cool branches.
Provide support and feedback. Work with each officer to set up short- and long-term goals for themselves and the unit, and make sure they know how to use the memberplanet tools available to them. On the feedback loop, too, show them what’s been done previously by the unit. Encourage them to find ways to innovate and improve efficiency while building on past successes in pursuit of the mission.
What if they suggest something you know will fail because they lack context? Before filling in the missing context or flat out saying 'no,' try asking about their perspective. Genuine curiosity goes a long way.
Successful learning is a two-way street, and hearing from those who are new to the scene will bolster your own knowledge and help you further educate them.
When your officers are confident that the outgoing board have their back and the PTA’s interests at heart, they’ll operate at peak productivity, and they will lead the rest of the unit in the way they’ve been instructed. It’s the best way to build a strong team and community.
“Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.”
PTA Simplified is a series of tips for PTA and PTO leaders to get the most out of a powerful association management system – to manage, engage, and grow their membership all year long.
Updated since original publication on 3/27/18.
Amazon is making a killing with their membership program – and other retailers have discovered they can ride the Prime wave. Since Amazon has raised the price for Prime membership, other companies can successfully do the same. The American Society of Association Executives’ (ASAE) Associations Now blog has given this a catchy name – the Prime effect.)
For the association industry, we can steal a page from Amazon’s playbook – while the membership model is nothing new, the way your association approaches the membership experience constantly needs to be kept top of mind. It really is all about the member experience. Amazon and other service giants, such as Netflix, have learned to cater exclusively to their members through complex algorithms – gone is the “one size fits all” mantra. Woven into the member experience is value. Membership-based organizations need to remember their value proposition, and they must deliver on it. Try not to get too wrapped up in dues payments and donations. Focus on the value your association can offer your members.
Convenience is also key. Your association may drive value, provide the best and most comprehensive solutions and benefits – but are they easy to access? Are your members spending too much time on painstaking tasks that provide no value to them? Do your members have a clear picture of the benefits you provide? Amazon and Netflix have seen sustained success not only because of their innovation, but because their services are easy and fast to utilize. Customers know exactly the benefits of being a member, and it’s easy to access those benefits and manage their own accounts at a time when it’s most convenient for them.
Something that we must also consider – which is outside the scope of Amazon and Netflix services – is the impact your association has on constituents. More often than not, the value of an association goes beyond transactional services. Associations provide education, advocacy, community, and more to their members – but it doesn’t stop there. Those members in turn provide value to their industries, constituents, and societies to which they belong. If you want your association to experience longevity, embrace your role in providing value that goes beyond membership.
Great trainers are naturally great leaders. And by definition, great leaders are those who inspire confidence, strength, and optimism. They are the folks who can motivate their group administrators to reach their fullest potential (and be just as powerful as dragons).
The term admin can be applied broadly – it can mean your committee heads, officers, or anyone you’ve put in charge of tasks that keep your organization running smoothly. As far as training the best admins goes, a great trainer/leader uses methods that can be boiled down to a few guiding principles, known here simply as 5 Keys to Training Your Group Admins:
For every specific skill or task to be instructed to your team admins, explain first what it is you’re about to share. More importantly, explain why it is important for your group. How does it work in its specific scope? How does it affect the overall team? It’s important to give a sense of the overall flowchart of the group and the admin’s role within it.
“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”
We are all individuals in the world, and personality will eventually be revealed, especially in the course of training. Make time to discover your admins’ own skills and experience. But be sure to recognize their different ways of learning, and be open to adapt to give each of them the answers they’ll need ongoing.
Grow your team admins. Assign sample scenario tasks (e.g. an upcoming social event, or a fundraising campaign or a yearly calendar of projects) and see how they deliver. Let them own it. It’s like the bonsai trees in Mr. Miyagi’s workshop. You have strong roots, and all kinds of cool branches.
Provide support and feedback. Work with each team admin to set up short- and long-term goals for themselves and the group and make sure they know how to use the memberplanet tools available to them. On the feedback loop, too, show them what’s been done previously by the group. Encourage them to find ways to innovate and improve efficiency while building on past successes and the great work that’s already been done.
As well, seek out your group admins’ feedback and listen to their perspectives. Learning is a two-way street, and hearing from them will bolster your own knowledge and help you further educate them.
When your admins are confident that you as their trainer/leader have their back and their interests at heart, they’ll operate at peak productivity, and they will lead the rest of the group way they’ve been instructed. It’s the best way to build a lasting team and community.
“Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.”
Updated since original publication on 02/12/18.
Involvement in an alumni chapter is a great way to continue serving your fraternal organization and remain connected to members. Being an alumni leader, however, isn’t always easy. There’s always a lot to do and consider – yet you took on the role because you saw how it would continue to enrich your life as well as the members who are part of the organization.
The fact that you’re being proactive and looking for ways to manage your alumni chapter is great. Similar to having tunnel vision, some alumni leaders focus on one area, but overlook another, which can hinder their overall success. To ensure you’re being most effective, these five areas of focus are vital: an alumni website, social media presence, communication, dues collection, and events. With the right tools and some delegation, it’s not that difficult. Read on for fundamentals – and to avoid tunnel vision.
1. Develop a website presence
I’ve seen many new alumni leaders develop social media handles for their chapter yet neglect to update or even start a website. You shouldn’t skip the step of creating a virtual, official presence for your alumni chapter. Reach out to other alums to ask for a volunteer webmaster if you’re not comfortable maintaining a website. Make sure to use a memorable URL.
Your website acts as the public face of your alumni chapter and a hub for your members. It’s also a news feed that will allow members to stay updated on what is happening with the active chapter. This should be the official place to post alumni social events, activities, and updates. A members-only login is just as important – being part of an alumni chapter is a privilege, so your dues-paying members should have a personal login where they can access your members-only content and perks.
2. Create a social media following
Leveraging social media is one of the most cost-effective ways to amplify your reach and create a dedicated following for your alumni chapter. If you’re not sure what social media networks are most popular among your members, Facebook and LinkedIn (for job/career-related posts) are a good place to start. Facebook is still the reigning social network, boasting 2.41 billion monthly active users as of June 2019. You can create private groups if you would like to emphasize the exclusivity of being a member, but if your goal is to expand your reach, go for public pages.
Thirteen percent of global active Facebook users were women between the ages of 25 and 34, and 19 percent were men in the same age range – the biggest demographic of Facebook users as of April 2019. To promote your activities, philanthropy, and initiatives and create a following, use applicable hashtags and tags, engaging content, and eye-catching imagery or videos.
You can utilize other social networks too, but what’s important is that you (or your social media manager) engage your audience consistently. Once you get the ball rolling, your active members will help your social media presence become a vibrant part of your organizational routine.
While email is effective, some of your alums will prefer to receive text message notifications; comprehensive marketing tools will allow you to draft a message once and send via email and/or group text simultaneously. More robust software will let you segment and target contacts based on data, so you can send tailored messages to everyone who RSVP’d for an event for example. Use built-in metrics (opens, clicks, bounces, etc.) from your communication software to gauge how engaging your content is.
4. Take advantage of a dues program
Collecting dues for your alumni chapter can be a time-consuming headache if you’re doing this manually. Keeping track of who’s paid and who hasn’t, sending out reminders, and handling cash and check are just a few of the tasks that are prone to error. A comprehensive dues program allows administrators to automate the collection of dues and offer convenient payment options for members, so you and your volunteers can focus on driving value for your chapter. The right dues program will offer additional major benefits, including integrated payments for donations and other payments.
5. Plan engaging events
The best events are not only easy to promote, they’re the ones that appeal to both members and prospects to keep your alumni active and increase participation. Your events committee should plan a good mix of annual (Homecoming, sports, etc.), social, and philanthropic events. Alumni members might be busy with work and scattered across the country, but if you plan well in advance and use event management tools to make the experience as convenient and valuable as possible, they will be more likely to attend.
Keep in mind that events and activities can be virtual and be just as successful as a physical event. If you create meaningful opportunities for your members, they will recognize the benefit of staying involved.
Here are some event ideas that can be done online or in person:
These five core components are critical in managing an effective alumni chapter over time. At memberplanet, simplifying membership is our constant focus. Our software and solutions help alumni chapters manage membership, engage supporters, and grow their organization – all in one spot. To learn more, please schedule a demo with the team.
About Matt Arnold
As our Vice President of Business Development, Matt is dedicated to serving member-based organizations and small to mid-sized associations. With over 10 years of experience wearing various leadership hats as an Alpha Tau Omega alumnus, Matt specializes in all fraternal organization matters. Whether a group is challenged with growing membership or struggling to engage members, he's got a solution.
You’re trying to keep things running smoothly for your association (or your chapter), but are spending too much time keeping track of spreadsheets, finances, and events. If you feel like you’re running in circles, you’re not alone. If you’re ready to pull all your hair out, read this for some membership-management relief.
1. Start by organizing your members
Use membership levels to organize your members. Membership isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all option, and that’s okay. Associations often collect more if they allow members to pay their membership dues and give a donation at the same time. The generous guy or gal willing to pay a couple grand (and then some) can be part of one membership level (a really fancy one), while folks with a smaller budget may be able to access basic membership for $20. Some associations even offer free memberships in the hope that these upgrade to paid status later on.
Give the option to automatically renew membership. It’s great to have different levels, but you still need members to renew – and they won’t always remember (or want) to manually take money out of their paycheck. No matter how much they love you and your cause, making it inconvenient for your members to part with their money is painful, so give them the convenient option of an automatic payment plan.
For members who opt to pay manually, or those who are past due, send reminder emails to keep them informed. Communicate to members using the levels, types and auto renew statuses. Your messages should be targeted to specific recipients, whether those are your top-tiered members, lapsed members, or another list based on variable data.
2. Get mentally organized to save time and sanity
First, set realistic goals. Make them ambitious but practical; define targets that you think your team can actually achieve with hard work and dedication. How many members can you obtain, retain, or connect with in a realistic timeframe?
Now that you’ve got some targets, recognize the fact that you’re not likely to hit them unless you use a calendar. Whether it’s a smartphone app or a physical appointment book, a calendar is great way to get organized and hit consistent deadlines.
Set your priorities at the beginning of each day. List them in order of importance. Priorities help you finish what you start, which is always a good thing to do in business (and in life).
Review each of your goals at the end of each day. See what you achieved, what you need to achieve, what you did well, and what you could do better tomorrow.
Finally, clean up your dang office. Many leaders find it difficult to organize a schedule if their workspace isn’t squared away. An office should help improve productivity, not serve as a nesting place for small rodents. So, throw away that stack of unused lunch coupons, sift through the mound of papers, and set traps, if necessary.
3. Delegate the right tasks – and know which ones to do yourself
Delegation is simple – but if you’re not doing it right, you could be wasting even more valuable time. First, you need to identify the tasks you should delegate and the ones you shouldn't. Here’s some of the best stuff to pass off:
It’s important to let go of some of these jobs, even if you love or have gotten used to doing them.
Whether your association has 20 members or 20,000, it pays to stay organized, as well as to make sure the memberships you offer are flexible and diverse enough to attract new members and retain existing ones. Managing membership can be tough, but it doesn’t have to be a hair-pulling experience. With our tips and tricks, memberplanet will help you through your member management troubles.
Schedule a demo today to explore new ways to help your association succeed.
Updated & refreshed from original posting on 12/20/2017
You’re put in charge. Now what? Group leader transitions are not without their complications, but that doesn’t mean they have to be difficult. By following a few key steps, you can ensure a smooth transition (think smoothie, not boba) that is beneficial for the entire organization.
The transition period is the time for new admins to prepare for their position while outgoing officers gain a sense of closure as they move on from a job well done. The goal is to maintain a sense of seamlessness and continue the great work that’s already been completed. Remember, you’re not starting from scratch. When done right, you avoid setbacks (which might feel like a chunk of fruit stuck in your straw).We’ve put together three pro tips for pulling off the ol’ switcheroo with minimal disruption to your organization.
1. Maximize your training
Access to information is critical for the continued success of the organization and the potential achievements of the incoming officer. They say teamwork makes the dream work, so make sure new and old leaders come together as a unit to make the transition easier and more effective.
Maximize the opportunity to learn from the outgoing officer by asking the right questions during the training period. Author and business mentor Michael Hyatt identified 20 key questions to ask other leaders to bolster your own skill set. Here are some key topics to inquire about during the transition process:
Additionally, reviewing goals and objectives from previous terms allows transitioning admins or group leaders to update themselves on the progress of those goals, so they have a reference point for the upcoming term. The former officer should provide a status report on ongoing projects as well as current budget and financial records.
To help you build upon the work that’s already done, check out the reports section on the platform, which provides a history of your group’s transactions. You can also see tracking for emails, event sites, and donation campaigns.
2. Make a great first impression
We all know that first impressions matter, so this transition period is the time to showcase yourself to the group. Membership management software is a helpful tool because it lets you access current membership information and reach out to the entire organization simply and efficiently. Use it to send a group email to introduce yourself and let members know about the transition process, upcoming meetings, and any changes the new administration will be making to its agenda.
You can target your email to specific member levels for a more personalized message, as well as use the Smart Lists feature to segment your distribution lists by variable data.
3. Be prepared to prioritize
An incoming leader can get overwhelmed with information overload, so being organized is essential. Updating lists and prioritizing tasks can make the early days of transition less stressful.
Your organization probably already has a list of essential documents you’ll need to get started, but here are some of the basics you don’t want to overlook during the process.
Online document storage is available on the platform to upload documents that can be shared with all your admins. If you’re a new admin user, simply check document storage in your admin portal to see what’s already been uploaded.
Once you have obtained and sorted through these documents, you'll be able to focus your efforts on the most pressing issues as a new leader for your organization. Uncle Ben (of Spider-Man fame, not the rice) said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” You don’t need to be a superhero to learn the value of this lesson.
“With great power comes great responsibility.”
As a group leader, you set the tone for the entire organization. It’s important that you stay up to the task by being prepared and making the most of the officer transition process. Maximize the resources that are available to you and build upon the wisdom of past leaders and current colleagues. Orchestrating a successful transition is your first task as a leader, so make it count!
By keeping important documents, reports, contacts, and everything else in one spot, memberplanet simplifies leadership and officer transition. Log in to check it out.
Updated since original publication on 12/11/17.
During the holiday season, everyone is bombarded with fundraising campaigns. You’ve likely taken advantage of giving season yourself, and that’s not a bad thing. To switch things up, consider also offering your members a way to give their time, and not just their money. In November, you’ve got Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday – one right after the other. To help you out during this especially busy time for your members, we have some tips to encourage volunteering. Yes, really!
Set up an incentive
Members are lot more likely to volunteer their precious time if there is a return on investment for them. Try offering an incentive that will help give members that little extra push to sign up. The incentive can be simple; for example, first dibs on fundraising booth shifts, one extra vote in a t-shirt design survey, or even a gift card. The point is, no matter the occasion these small enticements can lead to a big turnout on participation.
Plan and communicate early
Procrastination is the enemy. If you’re collaborating with a local nonprofit, have a plan in place as early as possible. Communicate clear expectations to everyone involved, including your members. Create a frictionless experience to volunteer by sending out a form with easy-to-select sign-up dates and times, so it is effortless for members to contribute their time. Once someone signs up, have an automatic confirmation email set up to include all the information they’ll need for the event. Sometimes, plans don’t pan out – and we recommend having a back-up plan if a couple volunteers need to back out. By putting in a little effort ahead of time to connect with all parties involved, you will likely see more willing, and might we add happy, volunteers.
Make your cause hit home
In addition to competing with busy schedules, there are countless wonderful causes and charities your group is up against. The more that you can personalize your cause to your potential volunteers’ interests, the more successful you’ll be in getting them to commit. Try to volunteer for causes that are local, or causes that directly affect your group – and communicate the benefits of their time. Members are more likely to be encouraged to help a cause they are passionate about, and one they know makes a difference.
Updated & refreshed from its original publication on 11/17/17
Improve communication between headquarters, chapters, and members with a unified platform
With so many multi-chapter organizations operating in the United States, there is relatively little research on how they maintain order and operations. How do individual chapters interact with their central or national office? What are their biggest challenges? It is difficult to keep processes streamlined when attempting to coordinate activities, goals, and communications. To dig a little deeper, here are four issues that are routinely faced by multi-chapter groups:
2. Membership data management
How many members do you have? Who needs to renew? Which members participate the most? What (and where) is the most recent reporting? We live in the connected economy – there is no need for cumbersome and imprecise methods of file sharing.
An effective member management database and can seamlessly maintain records and renewals online while enabling groups to grow their membership. That’s why we’ve developed a user-friendly database that makes it easy to search, sort, and upload files while also streamlining dues collection and payment processing.
3. Being social but consistent
To manage this issue, the head office should develop a comprehensive social media strategy, create an email list of who is responsible for the campaigns for each office, and send them appropriate guidelines. Building a successful and consistent brand requires regular communication between HQ and the points of contact at the respective chapters, which is easily accomplished through internal email campaigns.
4. Leveraging technology for all chapters
The solution? A single, connected platform will provide chapters the tools to manage their respective silos while also coordinating with organization leadership. A user-friendly, adaptable level of consistency makes training, turnover, and growing membership much simpler to manage. And it can transform an organization for the better.
If you’re part of a multi-chapter organization and face even one of these challenges, investigate our all-in-one membership management platform and see how it can simplify your life.
Updated since original publication on 10/10/2016.