Members are at the core of everything you do as an association professional. Whether those members are individuals, companies or even other associations, they drive everything you do. Showing consistent appreciation for the time, talent and treasure members share with your association is key to getting and keeping them engaged as well as helping them to see how their membership in the association is beneficial.
Appreciation doesn’t have to be large, cost money or take a vast amount of time to accomplish. But showing appreciation builds trust and confidence in your work and helps to strengthen and develop relationships that become valuable to your association.
Here are 8 ways you can quickly show your members appreciation:
1. Simply just saying thank you
Whether this thank you is verbal or written; it really doesn’t matter. Taking the time to say it is what matters. Finishing a call with a committee? Thank them for the time they took out of their busy day to discuss matters that are important to the association. Had a chance to meet some members at an association function? Send a quick thank you note to them for the opportunity to chat with them. Either way hearing thank you is a simple way to develop the relationship.
2. Ask their opinion
It might seem odd at times, but taking time to ask what your members think is a great way to show appreciation. This gives them the opportunity to share what they are thinking. From this you have a moment to get new perspectives, ideas and you might even learn some new pain points you didn’t realize existed for your membership previously.
3. Listen to them
You asked for their opinion, now really listen to what they have to say. Don’t automatically say you’ve tried that as an association or that their idea won’t work for X number of reasons, just listen. Thank them for sharing and see how you can build off that idea. Member ideas are often more easily supported and recognized by the general membership.
4. Provide them a road map
Sometimes it is hard for members to really understand how the work they are doing supports the overall mission and direction of the association. Help them recognize just how vital the work they are doing is by connecting their work to the future state of the association. When members realize their work is key to success down the road, they’ll be more invested and realize how much you respect what they are doing.
5. Highlight their success to others
Did a member spend a lot of time putting together an event, serve as an on-site coordinator or speak at a program on behalf of your association? Highlight them in your newsletter, on social media or in some visible and public way. Share with others the impact that member had on the association’s success.
6. Give members tokens of gratitude
Do you have a core group of members who consistently help make your programs, events or goals a success? It doesn’t hurt to give them a quick gift card for coffee or a local gift from their area, etc. If many of them attend your conferences, find ways to work with the hotel to help get some of these tokens at either a reduced rate or sometimes free. For example, see if the hotel will help place these in guest rooms for you for that extra touch.
7. Recognize their membership milestones
Continued membership with an association is so vital to your success. Thank those that continue to stay with you year after year. If you’re able to do so, think about highlighting 10, 15 or 25 years of membership with your association. Again, these don’t have to be anything big; a small certificate, a lapel pin that is included during registration at an event, etc. These small things can have a big impact on a member’s experience.
8. Be approachable and available
No one likes to leave a voicemail or talk with an automated voice directory, so as often as possible make sure you are accessible to your members. Is something on your site causing confusion for a member? Give them a quick call and walk them through the process. Helping to resolve member issues quickly and effortlessly as possible helps to keep them confident in the association’s ability to support them.
Appreciation doesn’t have to be about a grand gesture or tied to a specific dollar amount. Effort goes a long way and shows the association cares about its members.