“Who is helping to solve the member engagement problem?”, an association CEO and big thinker in our industry asked me yesterday.
Many indicators point to a member engagement problem for associations. Many associations are facing shrinking annual revenues, low retention ratings and, are having a harder time recruiting volunteers and quality volunteer leaders.
Things are different than they were twenty years ago. When we were the only game in town. When members had more time in their days. When member attention was not so scarce. Before consolidation. Before the internet. Before for-profit competition. Before the explosion of options. Before the shift in public perception. Back then, more members were more engaged.
So what do we as an industry do about this frightening trend? Our organizations cannot continue without engagement. We need strategic thinkers, advocates, promoters, people at the conference to create energy, writers, speakers, and mentors.
I do not know of one person, or organization, or firm, or consultancy out there solving the association engagement problem for our industry. But I do see some association professionals addressing the member engagement problem for their organization.
How are they doing it? By being great.
Members of associations with the most engaged members say:
- They realized the value of the association very early in their membership. Because they realized value early, they kept coming back for more. Furthermore, whatever stage they are in their career or whatever stage their organization is in, the association provides value to them.
- They have great experiences with and because of the association. They are warmly welcomed. The member culture is friendly and helpful without any noticeable cliques. The association is as professional as they are.
- There are no barriers. Staff is friendly, fast, and helpful. There is always some way to participate more. They can find what they want when they want it. There are few technological glitches.
The associations with the most member engagement systematically work on VEB. They offer great Value, curate amazing Experiences, and remove Barriers. They never rest. They never cash in. They are never satisfied. They know the experience can always be better, the value can always be greater, and there’s always some little stumbling block to fix. They do all this by understanding their members better than anyone else does.
This is how we solve the member engagement problem one great association at a time.