Like plants that need to be nurtured to thrive, your members need to be nurtured if you want them to perform and stick around. Nurturing (your retention strategy) should begin as soon as they come on board. Engaged members are happy members. Happy members are, in turn, less likely to leave and can be powerful recruitment advocates.
The key to retaining your members lies in the value you provide them. Offering easy access to information through online tools, resources and educational opportunities helps secure your association’s position as the go-to authority for whatever your members’ needs. Providing educational and promotional events, sharing industry standards and trends, and delivering relevant data through your website, communications or published reports allow your members access to important information from the one resource that has what they need—you!
For onboarding members, I suggest an annual member orientation event that includes the basics:
- What is the structure of your organization and what does it do?
- What is the role of members in what you do?
- How can they make an impact?
- What do you need them to do to make an impact? (specific “how-to” information helps here)
In addition, members can be further engaged using multiple tactics like inviting them onto your team Zoom calls to share their thoughts, and holding regional chapter talks and exhibiting events. Consider spotlighting individual members and/or chapters on social media and in your newsletter. Invite them to participate in a market research project or to speak at a workshop. These are just a few ways to get new and veteran members excited and more invested. Other ideas to increase member retention include tips from Wild Apricot. For example:
- Create a meaningful “welcome” email to new members. The message should be personalized from a real person. It should also include a bit about your organization’s history, a list of member benefits, links to helpful resources on your website, a look ahead to upcoming events, newsletter release dates and important announcements.
- Ask yourself why your members joined in the first place and if what attracted them in the beginning is still evident. Knowing that will help ensure that you are meeting their needs. You might also consider aligning with a cause that your members can collectively support. This can lead to a greater sense of community within your membership.
- Uncover why your long-time base are still members. Are they more actively involved in certain activities? When you know what interests your veteran members, you can promote those activities to newer members. A great way to promote the more popular activities is through sharing participant testimonials in email, in your newsletter, on your website and through social media.
- Encourage your inactive members to get back in the game with a special offer like free access to a report or a free invitation to an event. While they may be paying their dues today, disengaged members are ultimately more likely to leave than those who are active participants.
Recruiting and retaining members requires an ongoing strategy that is designed to both attract those you want to recruit and keep them engaged for the long haul. Understanding the needs of different member segments is key. If you want your association to flourish, commit to building and nurturing your member relationships. Whether new to your organization or veterans, they are of equal value to your success. Contact AOE today for more information on recruiting and retaining members.