Associations thrive and grow when members are interested in the actions of its board and association. That is why it is so important to always be looking for new, creative, and engaging ways to ‘entertain’ association members. Whether membership in your association is voluntary or required for a profession/industry, association boards must always consider the wow factor or risk losing the interest of their members.

One way of generating member interest is through member recognition. Recognizing members can be done in many different and unique ways; it will be up to your board and association staff to determine what will work for your industry, but here are some ideas:

  • Host association awards
  • Publish short bios on members, such as:
    • Award winners
    • Existing and involved members
    • Board members
    • New members
  • Sharing member’s social media posts

Hosting Association Awards/Profiling the Winners

Association awards have grown to be common across all industries. They are an excellent way to provide measurable and tangible recognition to members. It also allows the association to have some fun with their members and even throw a big party if the occasion calls for it.

However, setting up and orchestrating association awards is no small feat. If you’re starting from scratch, take it slow and start off with a few categories. You can choose whether your awards are member-voted favourites or judged by a panel of industry experts. You can choose to recognize individual staff members, products, volunteering, lifetime achievement, research; the possibilities are endless.

If your association already runs an awards program and you’re looking to jazz it up, consider producing video acceptance speeches, profiling winners on social media, conducting interviews with winners, etc. The more content you can produce and spread across all channels, the more recognition and validation you are giving to the winners and participants. Sometimes, when members receive more recognition, they are encouraged to continue participating or to participate for the first time; it’s all about the draw!

Publishing Content to Feature Members

An easy way to recognize members is by creating a section in your regular newsletter, a segment on your social channels, or by building something into your association’s communication strategy. The more original content your association can produce, the more opportunity you have for growth and organic searches. These profiles can be handy for a few things, such as

  • Introducing a newly joined association member or company;
  • Getting to know the board; or
  • Sharing stories from existing members

Introducing New Members

Conduct a short interview, whether through a survey tool or over the phone/video chat, to get to know the new member. Ask them why they joined the association and learn about their personal or organization’s story. Write a brief piece afterwards to include in the publication of your choice. Posting that profile and tagging users on social media is also an excellent marketing piece for the new member to use! Profiling new members is an excellent opportunity for them to get their name out there and to start making connections; this only encourages them to remain engaged and participate in association events and activities. What more could you ask for?

Getting to Know the Board

Profiling board members can be particularly useful for larger associations. It is so easy to automatically see board members as higher-ups and to dehumanize them almost. It’s important to remember that association board members are volunteers and have everyday careers just like you. They volunteer their personal time to make your association better and to work towards the strategic goals of the organization. By profiling board members in a fun way, members get to see the other side of them, and the barriers can come down. Don’t be afraid to ask them their favourite movie quote or family memory!

Sharing Member’s Stories

Another excellent opportunity to profile your association members is to share their stories. Members are always up to something, and it is so nice to be able to share those endeavours with others! A great example of this would be to share stories about the challenges of COVID-19. Collect those stories via a simple survey tool and include them in your newsletter or on social media. Storytelling allows members to have their voices heard, and for members to feel involved in and appreciated by the association.

Social Media Posts

A simple way to encourage engagement and association involvement is to repost or share your member’s content on social media. Remain as active as you can on social media to ensure that the association is always seeing any posts that they are tagged in or any comments on their posts. The more the association’s voice is out there, the more members will feel connected to your association and the more traffic everyone’s social posts will receive. It’s a win, win situation! Get creative and have some fun with this one.

We ALL Desire Recognition

All in all, the more recognition your association members receive, the more likely they will be to participate in association activities and events. It’s human nature to want recognition for your hard work and is only natural to look for incentives. Make it easier on your association members by not making them look too hard.