How to Solve the 3 Biggest Hurdles with Association Member Engagement

A solid membership engagement strategy is a core function of member-based associations. Associations thrive on the support and involvement of the individuals, businesses and organizations they serve

A solid membership engagement strategy is a core function of any member-based organization. Associations thrive on the support and involvement of the individuals, businesses and organizations they serve. Engagement is a two-way street, and relies on developing a genuine and reciprocal relationship between your membership and your association. When an association lacks a connection with its base, the association loses its power as a member-based organization. 

1. Problem: The only time a member contacts you is when she/he is renewing membership dues

Associations offer a dynamic space to grow both professionally and personally while contributing to an organization. However, sometimes individuals join associations to list their affiliation on a resume, or perhaps their place of employment pays their membership fees, and so they become members by default but aren’t truly invested in the mission of the association.

Solution: Show membership value and benefits 

The true value in joining a member-based organization is the membership experience. For tips on offering valuable membership experience, these blog posts provide insight: here, here, and here.

Consider offering opportunities for members to join different committees or "task forces" within your association. Many member-based associations create committees to serve a dual-purpose: to involve members in a proactive and meaningful way, and also to support the functions of the associations by bringing new ideas to the table through the voices of members who care.

Finally, look for opportunities to partner with businesses to offer your members a special discount from certain companies. For example, members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce receive a discount on FedEx shipping.

2. Problem: Your members want more say in public policy initiatives

Associations play an important role in the policymaking process. Individuals and/or businesses may join associations for the single reason of participating in organized political advocacy and to stay on top of industry policy trends. An association should be providing a way to engage membership in advocacy initiatives. 

Solution: Give your members a voice by investing in advocacy software.

Advocacy software provides an online and simple way to include your members in government advocacy. If you aren’t familiar with the capabilities of online advocacy software, this brief informative blog post will outline the importance of digital advocacy in today's legislative environment. Additionally, this blog post outlines the factors to consider before purchasing advocacy software. 

3. Problem: Association lacks a defined member engagement strategy

An engaged membership doesn't develop overnight. Strategic initiatives and creative, logistical planning and execution contribute to member engagement. If an association lacks a member engagement strategy, it's time to strat building a strategy from the ground-up.

Solution: Hire a membership professional or develop a stronger internal membership program

If your association lacks a membership director, the most effective fix is to hire a member services professional- budget permitting, of course. If your association infrastructure includes staff devoted to member engagement, ensure that contact between your association and its members involves both digital and offline communications. Social media and relevant content on your association’s website are great ways to pique your membership’s interest online; however, in-person interaction is invaluable. As mentioned above, hosting educational seminars or luncheons are important, but informal gatherings offer great opportunities for members to connect with one another and form friendships. Hosting afterwork Happy Hours, offering group tickets to sports events or throwing a laid-back event are great ways to bring your membership together. 

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