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!
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