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, especially during an economic crisis. 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, even in the midst of a pandemic.
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 an online video chat
An “online video chat” can be interpreted in different ways, and you have a lot of flexibility to do what works for your organization. This type of activity is great for sparking inspiration and thought-provoking ideas among your members. It can mean hosting a virtual Ted Talk-like event, or an informal video chat, or something in between. Whatever you choose to do, keep these pointers in mind:
2. Partner up for an online campaign
Another way to engage your members’ brains is to host an online campaign where your association and a partner or like-minded organization combine efforts. This can be a way to spread awareness for a variety of issues, celebrate an anniversary, promote a recent launch, or fundraise for a cause. Here are a few ideas:
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, even with safe social/physical distancing measures in place. Make sure to follow county guidelines for any gatherings and ensure members have the proper protective gear. Association leaders can utilize heavily involved volunteers with the opportunity to organize an event. Taking on a leadership role deepens their connection to the association. Organizing shifts for a trash cleanup at a park or a care package drive for those in need are excellent examples of philanthropy that bring members together for a cause larger than any single person.
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.
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 virtual 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 and you’re dealing with a more tech savvy audience, try a virtual game night (or day). Members can vote on a game – the selection can range from Animal Crossing to pictionary via Zoom (we’ve tried it and made a few tweaks to make it work)! Check out games on Jackboxgames.com for more ideas.
Note: If you plan on doing a game night using webinar software, we recommend doing a practice run with a small group and picking a game that doesn’t require a lot of rules-learning time.
6. Offer members-only giveaways or awards
Spice up those virtual 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 a virtual awards show with customized award names to speak to your membership. You can choose to announce 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. Read more: Tips to Engage Members in Uncertain Times.
Updated since original publication on 10/7/19.