In the five-stage association membership lifecycle, membership engagement is in the middle of it, with awareness and recruitment ahead of it, and renewal and reinstatement after it. As such, membership engagement is at the core of and is the most challenging work for association executives.
Engaging with members during this pandemic has even made this work pressing and demanding as members need their association’s presence and assistance more than ever. It is in this context that the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives (PCAAE) organized a webinar on “Membership Engagement in the Virtual World.”
Our featured speaker was Dot Miller, a Colorado, USA-based certified association executive, book author, entrepreneur, and community leader, who is CEO of The Solution, an association management company, and Co-founder of the National Credentialing Institute. She was ‘on the dot’ (pun intended) on the following member engagement suggestions to the webinar attendees:
- Bring solutions to your members as well as energy and enthusiasm in engaging with them. Because of the pandemic, your members could be stressed, burned out, unsure of the future, or have no control over the situation. Understand your members’ pain points and their profession or industry needs. Write press releases to elevate your association and share your members’ successes in the media.
- Categorize your members into greens, yellows and reds (the ‘traffic light’ member clusters). Greens are your most engaged members who attend events, work on committees, and serve on the Board. Yellows are those who have attended one or two events in a year and whom you may not know well. Reds never attended anything, have not participated, and you don’t know them at all.
As a strategy, you need not spend much time to engage with the greens where you can also find from among them, ambassadors who are able to engage with fellow members. For yellows, you may need more time to reach out personally so they will renew. For the reds, you may only engage if they have been with you less than 5 years.
- Hold stakeholders meetings, typically networking events where you bring in the yellows and the reds, clustering them by size or interest to enable them to interact with each other. Conduct ‘sprint’ (short, one hour and a half) visioning and strategy sessions before Board meetings to map out actions for the next 6 months or so.
- Reach out (via phone calls, hand-written notes, cards) to five members per day and ask them how they are doing. Your ambassadors and Board members can ask them to engage with your association by say, submitting an article for your newsletter, or a member spotlight, or content for a blog or for your website or social media channels.
- Make short, regular, easy to answer, 3-question surveys to your members on benchmarking and other relevant topics and share survey results with your members and using these in strategy sessions.
There are more ideas that Dot mentioned which couldn’t fit this space but suffice it to say, engaging members, pandemic or not, is at the heart of an association executive’s job.