Chances are, you probably started 2020 with a comprehensive plan in place to promote your association, increase member acquisition, retain membership, and boost engagement. And seemingly out of nowhere, COVID-19 struck and rendered that membership growth plan inadequate.
Regardless of the breadth and depth of your membership teams’ experience, this is without question unchartered territory. There’s no direct blueprint to draw from to figure out how to navigate these waters. The unsettling reality is that we are all trying to figure things out as we go along, and as information becomes, which is also the same reality for your members.
With so much uncertainty how can you promote your association and growth membership in the era of COVID-19? We’ve got a few suggestions.
Ask Your Members What They Need
Given that this pandemic has affected every industry and each individual differently it’s hard to assess what your members need in the context of COVID-19. Instead of solely relying upon your board members and other volunteer leaders, we suggest that you ask your members directly how they are doing and what tools, resources, and insights they need to succeed in the era of COVID-19.
This can be as simple as scheduling virtual town halls or smaller virtual meetups to discuss these issues. Following these events, you’ll have data available to you to help guide and prioritize where you should spend resources to help your membership.
Be The Conduit For Social Connection
As social distancing and remote working become part of our everyday lives, the craving for social connection has intensified. COVID-19 eliminated many of the usual opportunities members have for planned and serendipitous meetups, networking, and relationship building.
Your online community may see more participation, but there’s nothing like seeing people’s faces to prevent feelings of loneliness and isolation. You can be the conduit for social connection by scheduling virtual round table discussions, lunch breaks, and happy hours—any opportunity for members to see each other’s faces — on a web-conferencing platform like Zoom, Google Hangouts, or GoToWebinar. Your members will appreciate the chance to check in with each other, commiserate, vent, and share advice.
Although you may feel like you don’t have any bandwidth to spare, your association has a critical role to play in serving an emerging and different set of member needs during the COVID-19 crisis. It’s also a time of opportunity—a time to experiment with new ways of member engagement.
Megan Van Petten
Van Petten Group INC.