According to current association research, the #1 challenge of associations is "engaging members in the programs that can help them improve their business." That sounds so ironic given members have come to the association for help.
If we, as associations, can harness the energy within our associations to help members understand they have joined an exciting place that can lead them to the answers for most everyone of their challenges, we will maximize their engagement, therefore solving many of our association's challenges.
The #1 group of people who should be required to engage members in programs are your staff. When I say staff, I mean 100% of the staff including HR, accounts payable, meetings, etc. Any staff person a member could connect with in any fashion should be required to engage members.
The problem with staff is usually membership interaction on programs and services typically falls to one person who is in charge of membership with smaller associations and a small department in larger associations. Here me on this... "With only one person or department in charge of membership, you will never maximize member engagement." One person or department can never have the type of interaction with the majority of your members needed to maximize engagement.
Membership Engagement should be the responsibility of every employee whether you have 2 staff members or 200 staff members. Every employee should be required to at minimum know the following:
1) Year Association Was Established
2) Mission and Vision Statements of Association
3) General Understanding of the Association Strategic Plan
4) General Knowledge of Each Benefit/Program the Association Offers
5) How the Benefits/Programs Connect to the Success of the Members
If you were to have a test TODAY on those five topics with everyone not in the membership department, would they pass or fail?
Think about how many times a day everyone not responsible for member interacts with members and none of them typically discuss any of the above because they don't have intimate knowledge of it. You see, when your staff can connect the five items above to the success of your members, it breeds passion for them to make a difference each day. They understand, as a staff person, WHY THEY EXIST in the organization. That what they do everyday really is life changing for people you serve.
There are two main aspects that drive associations. PURPOSE and PASSION. When the two intersect, you now have a CAUSE to fight for. My question is, "Does your employees understand the CAUSE they are fighting for or do they think they just have a job?"
To many associations have PURPOSE and PASSION among their people, but they are not intersecting each other for the benefit of the association.
When PURPOSE and PASSION intersect for a CAUSE, you then have a level of energy within your association staff where EVERYONE buys into maximizing member engagement so the association thrives. When member engagement grows, it's like a chain reaction that grows:
- Program participation
- Per member revenue
- Meeting attendance
- Membership Retention
I have personally witnessed this over the past 8 years within our association where equipping ALL of my staff with the knowledge they need to engage members constantly has led us to increase per member revenue 33%, annual non-dues revenue 132% and overall net worth of association 1,058%.
Incredible numbers from simply ensuring ALL staff are a part of the engagement process.
I would encourage every association reading this to do the following:
- Make sure your staff KNOWS first had the five things I listed above about your association.
- Meet at minimum quarterly as a staff to discuss openly your value proposition and the five items
- At each meeting, have 1 or 2 staff members present your value proposition from their perspective and discuss it to learn the varying angles people see your association.
Lastly, I would encourage you to have your association staff take my 90-Day Association Revolution Challenge in the 4th quarter of 2014. Don't let your staff go into 2015 thinking the same old way. My "live" Association Revolution Challenge Workshop has received rave reviews by boards and association leaders across the U.S. I now have an online version that makes a "staff member engagement strategy session" affordable.
Take the steps to maximize member engagement today by equipping your staff and connecting the Purpose and Passion for your association CAUSE. To see our SPECIAL OFFER for $200 off the Association Revolution Challenge, visit www.AssociationRevolution.com.