Contact Us | 1-866-488-4474 |

How Do You Create Member Engagement?

Engaging your members
Members join associations with a specific goal in mind – whether it is enhancing their professional education, obtaining a designation, or for networking opportunities – they have a reason.

An association’s objective is to match their potential members’ reasons with their strategy & mission.  Today, running a successful  association takes more than just providing advocacy on behalf of an entire industry – you must have a purpose that resonates with individuals (and beyond that, live your purpose everyday).  Helping your members improve in any given area is a fundamental requirement.  The more you help them improve, the stronger the relationship, the more engaged the member.

Association managers may know how much their courses or publications can help members, but if the individual doesn’t see the connection, and only sees these offers as the association trying to SELL stuff, engagement ultimately will drop.

How do you create engagement?

According to his 2010 article in Associations Now, David Gammel, CAE defines engagement as: “Engagement is the result of a member investing time or money with the association in exchange for value.”

As a result, ensuring your members are as engaged as possible is fundamental to surviving.  In the B2B world, Gallup Business Journal says engaged customers deliver a 23% premium over average customers in spending, profitability and relationship growth.  Imagine what that could do for your association!

What can your association do?  

Create a strategic plan to increase member engagement, whether it is creating a position with your association, or partnering with an external company for additional support.

It’s not a “one and done” scenario – you must regularly be in touch with your members, seeking their input on changes, products and services.

Stick to the plan – many members will be impressed that you have sought their feedback initially.  And, once you have reached out and asked for the input, continue to do so – consistency is key.

Also, as an association manager, you will need to track these metrics, so that you know what the next steps for your organization are.  And these metrics cannot be gathered without constant communication.  Surveys will help you along the way, but this is only one component.  Most survey participants are those who think you want to hear what they have to say, or they have negative feedback they want to share.  Having a conversation with all members (respondents and non-respondents) on a regular basis will provide you with the most realistic metrics.

In the end, everyday you must show your members that it is all about them.  That will drive member engagement in the right direction.

Free images from

Member Engagement Benchmarking Study Still Open

Mini Greenfield
With 9 days left, the Member Engagement Benchmarking Study, covering recruitment, retention renewal and other engagement practices is receiving some positive feedback, and many are looking forward to reviewing the results!

We are looking forward to benchmarking the industry too!

See what people are saying about the study:

“I'd be curious how associations measure the "visibility" goal, as it seems one of the more challenging to get data on. I'm also curious as to whether "member satisfaction" or something similar was on your list and where it's currently running.” – Terry C.

"Thanks for the preliminary results, Meagan! I took the survey on behalf of my employer and I know my division is keen to see how we stack up against others in the area of member engagement. It's very timely as we devote more of our attention and resources to this area!" – Miriam T.

Why Should You Participate:

Association Executives have told us they want to compare their organization's levels of engagement with other Canadian associations. And while we could direct them to benchmark reports relating to one particular area (on social media, or email marketing), we could not find any Canadian study that truly covers all levels of communication.

As a result, we have launched our Benchmarking Study, which will cover off organizational structure, and membership engagement (recruitment, retention, renewal and engagement questions).

Who should participate:

Anyone who works for an Association in Canada is invited to participate. The study will take approximately 35 minutes to complete – and individual results will be kept strictly confidential. Results will be reported in aggregate and will not identify any specific response or respondent.

The survey is open until Friday, June 29, 2012. Those who respond will have the opportunity to request at the end to receive a copy of the report as our thank you (a $149 value).

I would be happy to further discuss the purpose of the study, and how we will be sharing the results. Thank you in advance for your interest, and your assistance in benchmarking the industry!

Meagan Rockett
Director, Client Solutions
Greenfield Services Inc.
866-488-4474 ext 4517

Recognizing Success: Increasing Engagement for your Association

OLA Logo
In September 2011, I had the pleasure of meeting Beckie MacDonald, M.L.I.S at the CSAE National Conference & Tradeshow in Saskatoon, SK.

Over several subsequent conversations, Beckie shared with me how their association’s engagement, in terms of attendance at events, paying memberships, etc.) is on the rise. This certainly piqued my interest, as many organizations are facing the exact opposite. Beckie agreed to share her trade secrets, which I am more than happy to pass along.

The Ontario Library Association (OLA) is the oldest and largest library association in Canada supporting those who work in and/or support all forms of library and information workplaces. Their key purpose is to provide their members with networking opportunities, educational programs, and a voice on provincial issues pertaining to their field as well as services and products that support the field. With 12 full-time employees & one part-time employee currently on-staff, and approximately 500 volunteers, they manage close to 5000 members. As an Ontario Association, their main membership base is in Ontario, Canada, but they also attract members from across Canada and internationally.

Appealing to younger generations has been a hot topic for some time. When I asked Beckie what the OLA is doing to remain relevant, I found that there is staff buy-in on social media (such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and even Flickr). Multiple staff members are monitoring each of the accounts to engage in conversations with current and prospective members.

They have also established great relationships with the educational programs in the province of Ontario to be present and engage with the students of the field. The OLA offers a reduced fee for membership to these students, and provides full membership benefits. In addition, they offer career-specific services to these students, including résumé critiquing, mock interviews, and mentoring.

The students are invited to the annual conference, where they also have a unique opportunity to engage and learn from those who are experienced. They run what they call a “Human Library” where the “Human Books” – those members who are in high-level or unique positions – can be “borrowed” by members for a 20-30 minute conversation to hear their story. This is especially effective for students.

How has their members reacted to this? According to Beckie, the response has been very positive. Members have shared appreciation to the increased accessibility to staff members as well as the increase in methods of communication (via traditional channels and social media).

Communicating the increased engagement across all departments within the organization has increased staff-buy in as well.

For more information, please click here to be directed to the full interview. If you are interested in submitting a nomination for another organization to be recognized, please feel free to share it by email.

Congratulations to Beckie MacDonald and the rest of the OLA team – in a time where many associations are concerned about their survival and relevance, you are a shining star!

Stakeholder Engagement: Changing Your Sponsorship Affinity Program Offerings

Magnet Attracting
Associations today offer current and potential sponsors the opportunity to showcase themselves to a niche market of contacts.  These members (or, potential buyers in your sponsor’s view) are highly targeted and qualified contacts – sponsors can demonstrate products, offer special packages, and be “front and center” by communicating with them in the manner that they choose in an environment that they are comfortable in.

Associations should consider this an advantage, however; more often than not sponsor packages are put together in a “boxed lunch” fashion, and consideration for the sponsor and what they are looking to get out of this opportunity (their ROI) is not taken into account.

With budget cutbacks everywhere and many more organizations competing for the same amount of sponsor dollars, an association offering customized solutions would really stand out from the crowd.  Those within the marketing department of their association will have to be creative going forward in putting together a strategic plan for retaining and engaging new sponsors.

What steps can your organization take to attract and retain relevant sponsors for your members?

Assess the Profession:  As an organization that is considered an industry expert, review the profession and the needs of those in the profession - determine which companies and what product(s) would make the lives of your member base more efficient daily.

Get feedback:  What is it that your members need (or, are looking for that would make their lives easier)?  Ask them.  Prepare a quick membership survey, asking them for feedback on current sponsors (and their product offerings) to determine if what you currently have is the best match.  Then ask them what would make their lives (professional or personal) easier and find like-minded organizations to come on as sponsors.

Review at your current sponsors/affinity partners:  Once your feedback is compiled and has been assessed, have a look at your current sponsors – are they still a fit?

Ask your sponsors what they need:  Is there anything that your association could be doing to showcase your sponsors better to your members?  Determine the reason(s) they are partnering with you, and find out how this could be enhanced.  Come up with the solution that makes sense for them.

Seek out the right partners:  Determine who would be the best fit for your association and your members.  Source out a list and create a stakeholder engagement program to draw attention to your organization, and provide them with material that backs up this claim.  Keep nurturing them, as they may not sign up right away, but keeping your organization in the spotlight could make the difference in their decision to partner with you in the future.

Have a success story to share?  Tell us why your sponsors partner with you, and what you do to keep them engaged with your membership and your association!