Sector and AuSAE News

  • 23 Mar 2020 2:13 PM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    Associations and Unions all have members, and staff, who are now on the front line dealing with the significant changes in our working and personal lives that we all face because of the coronavirus outbreak.

    These changes make it particularly important that Association CEOs provide leadership with a laser-like focus on the needs of both the members and their teams.  The question of how they do that is challenging for many organisations as they adjust to how it affects their personal and work lives, they contemplate staff working remotely (many for the first time) and members becoming more and more difficult to reach (and perhaps service) as they address this outbreak. Here are a number of things to consider:

    ·       Website: Your web site is one of the first places your members will go to. Make accessing this information as clear and easy as possible and most importantly ensure it is mobile friendly. Member services teams and their call centres are experiencing massive demand so look at how your web site can best support your members just as your valued staff do.

    ·       System in the Cloud: As staff begin to work remotely, ask are your systems available for your staff to access in the cloud? For organisations that have yet to fully embrace the Cloud, it’s not too late. Anywhere, anytime, on any device, has never been more important.

    ·       One system makes this less complicated: How many different systems are you using to manage member data? Compile a list and do an audit – you might be surprised. Consolidating to a single, enterprise, cloud member platform will allow you to be more nimble in this current environment.

    ·       Managing data security: How do you now manage data security with your staff working remotely? Additionally so if you have numerous systems.

    ·       Become an expert in conducting remote meetings: With face to face events cancelled, what other ways are you engaging with your members? There are many powerful online tools available to enable dynamic delivery of content and engagement. Whether they be educational now being delivered via an Learning Management Systems (LMS), or meetings and events going virtual, consider how you can incorporate these tools into your member engagement plans.

    ·       Become a community: Consider online communities and online special interest groups to drive connection between your members and your organisation. Your members are going to feel isolated so look at how can you easily connect and bring them together. You’ll be surprised how grateful they will be and what that means to them, and your organisation.

    ·       Agility to adjust membership types: And with changes to demands and expectations, not just on events, but also your membership you may need to look at amending membership from a typical yearly cycle to 15 months with an extra 3 months free as an example. An important questions is whether you have the billing agility to easily amend all of your pricing of membership, events, and services across all your offerings.

    For many of you the future is now and you may not have the luxury of easing into these changes, but it is critical that you look at how you manage your systems and all of your data. Not just from a data security perspective, but also from a member engagement perspective. What members do, and how they access resources, you will soon want, and need, to track all of this as measuring member engagement will be critical to adapting current offerings and creating new services to your members, not to mention aiding member retention in the months and years ahead.

    I hope that this blog has been useful in helping you consider quickly adapt. Please know that we are available to help facilitate these kinds of conversations inside your organisation. As an organisation with a mission to ensure that NFPs achieve success, we are now going to offering aree Success Assessment Workshops where we can help your team explore what is best to service your members and enable your team to be their most productive during these trying times. Please contact us if you are keen to find out more

    Mark Glynn, Performance Improvement Leader, Advanced Solutions International,

  • 18 Mar 2020 3:03 PM | Toni Brearley (Administrator)

    I hope you, your staff, members and family are well and safe during these uncertain and somewhat surreal times. 

    Firstly, an update to our members regarding the AuSAE Conference and Exhibition (ACE) 2020 and our face to face events. The current environment is changing every day, and like all organisations across Australia, AuSAE is closely monitoring the developments and advice provided by World, Federal and State government authorities to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our community and our staff.

    After much consideration from the AuSAE Board and key stakeholders, we wish to advise that we will postpone ACE 2020 due to be held March 31 – April 2. We will also postpone all other face to face events in the AuSAE calendar until 31 May 2020.

    Regarding ACE 2020, we are disappointed that we need to make this decision however, the safety of our members, community and Australia is our main concern and first responsibility during this time. We have not made this decision lightly as this is our largest event in the AuSAE calendar and provides considerable and crucial income to the ongoing viability of the association. We hope you will continue to support the postponed event. AuSAE is working with our key partners and our ACE venue partner and will provide an update in the next few days regarding the new dates for ACE 2020.

    During this time of significant uncertainty, AuSAE will be here for you - our members. Whilst we understand you are absolutely stretched in trying to support your own Industries and Professions at this time, we are committed to continuing to deliver options for you to access information and provide forums for discussions to help you do this and to help support your own businesses. In the coming days, AuSAE will touch base regarding online learning options and virtual event engagement opportunities.

    We realise you have also been inundated with offers of products and services and we want to assure you AuSAE is working very closely with all our current partners to provide resources that both assist and support you. We thank our partners for their pledged support now and into the future.

    In the meantime, we have collated some current resources that you may find immediately useful:

    • The Governance Institute is hosting a webinar on Thursday 19 March 2020 on “Coronavirus – evolving Business impact and continuity planning” To register please click here
    • AuSAE Alliance Partner, FCB Group has written the following advice article “The Employer Battles of the Coronavirus”. To read this please click here.
    • In response to the cancellation of many in-person events due to coronavirus (COVID-19), Higher Logic is offering Event Engagement to assist organisations in driving engagement and connection around virtual events. To find out more about this please click here.
    • AuSAE members are reminded that you are all members of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and have access to all virtual events, resources and on-line community access. They have also collated many resources and materials in relation to COVID-19. On Friday they are running a webcast on , “Remote Work During COVID-19: Human Resource and Technology Considerations”, to learn about key considerations for managing your staff and technology needs through the COVID-19 crisis.

    Last week, on behalf of members I wrote a letter to the Treasurer asking that not-for-profit Associations are not excluded from any government assistance designed to stem the economic fallout resulting from COVID-19. The letter can be found here. You are welcome to share this with your local member of parliament and communicate the impact on your own association. I am very conscious that our Associations are vulnerable during this time, especially in relation to lost revenue through events and will work with you to advocate whatever way we can to highlight and support this.

    Every day is changing, and it is a challenging time for you and the entire AuSAE community, we will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and we will provide regular updates and build our online capacity in order to support you during the coming weeks and months.

    Thank you for all your heartfelt support for AuSAE and for each other. It is in times like this that we come together, that relationships cultivated over time become the foundations for what will support our recovery.

    In this spirit I would like to extend an invitation to you all to join us for a virtual coffee on Friday morning, 10 am (EST) and let us know how you are going. I will open up my zoom “door” and hope to provide a platform for us to talk about the key challenges you are facing right now and how we can best support you so you can continue to provide support and leadership to your members. Register to join us here.

    We are here for you and will be reaching out in the coming weeks to personally check in. Please feel free to contact the AuSAE team on the details below if we can help in anyway.

    Toni Brearley, CEO: 0458 000 155
    Kerrie Green, Director Member Experience: 0400 198 928
    Abby Fields, Partnerships Manager: 0438 064 569

    Warm regards

  • 06 Mar 2020 3:15 PM | Toni Brearley (Administrator)

    AuSAE is concerned about the growing impact of COVID-19 and it's impact in Australia and New Zealand. Of key focus is the impact on the association meeting and events industry. 

    AuSAE has curated a selection of key resources to assist you to navigate the evolving situation.

    World Health and Government Resources

    World Health Organisation - Information and guidance from WHO regarding the current outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that was first reported from Wuhan, China, on 31 December 2019. 

    Australian Government - Department of Health-  resource page includes what you should know about the virus, situation updates, travel restrictions and resources and fact sheets for travellers, businesses, and others.  

    Ministry of Health - New Zealand - resource page including NZ situation update, information for travellers and information for organisers of public events and mass gatherings.

    NEW (8/03/2020): Recommendations by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) with regards to public events.

    State and Territory Health Department Information

    Meeting and Event Specific Resources 

    World Health Organisation - Key planning recommendations for mass gathering in the context of the current COVID-19 outbreak.

    PCMA - Global Association of Business Events Leaders information page and resources.

    US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention - Interim Guidance - Get your Mass Gatherings of Large Community Events ready for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) 

    Workplace and Business Continuity Resources

    Australian Government - Department of Health - Information for Employers

    Safework Australia - Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Advice for PCBU's (persons conducting a business or undertaking)

    McKinsey & Company - COVID-19 Implications for Business

    Associations Now - Article - How to Keep your Association Running if Coronavirus Worsens

    Harvard Business Review - Article - Lead your Business through the Coronavirus Crisis

  • 04 Mar 2020 3:40 PM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    How important to your business, are foreign workers?

    Let us help you through the process of accreditation

    Between now and 2021, Immigration New Zealand are rolling out major changes to visa management processes for Employers. These changes include:

    • Changes to the talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa (already in force)
    • A new employer accreditation process
    • The merging of 6 temporary visa’s into one visa
    • New job classifications for high and low paid
    • Strengthening the labour market test
    • Introducing sector agreements

    The most important facet of these changes is the shift away from granting visas to employees who meet the requirements of an advertised position, to granting visas ONLY to employers who meet the requirements of a suitable employer through Immigration NZ’s compulsory accreditation process.

    If you ever expect to hire a foreigner, or to renew a visa for an existing employee, then these changes have the potential to severely affect your business.

    If you hire migrant workers, the best thing you can do for your business is to keep one step ahead of these changes.

    There are 4 key components that your business needs to meet

    1. Financial position-You must be in sound financial position
    2. Human resource-You must adopt good human resource practices
    3. Workplace practices-You must have good workplace practices
    4. Training and employing New Zealanders -You must be committed to training and employing New Zealanders

    Our team has put together a comprehensive guide to everything you require to meet the criteria so please read through our guidelines and call our team for a free consultation.

    Link to guide:

  • 14 Feb 2020 5:07 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    If you have members who are influential in your industry or profession, consider putting them to work as ambassadors. A look at some roles to consider them for.

    Influencer marketing isn’t just for A-list celebrities and social media personalities with tens of thousands of followers.

    Inside an association, an influencer might be anyone from the CEO to a new member with a small network of highly engaged followers, otherwise known as a “micro-influencer.”

    Regardless of where your association’s influencers reside, consider if they could serve as an ambassador for your industry or profession. That’s exactly what the Women in Trucking Association (WIT) did with its Driver Ambassador program, launched earlier this month.

    Kellylynn McLaughlin—a professional commercial-motor-vehicle driver and training engineer who was also a dedicated WIT volunteer—will be the official WIT Driver Ambassador and travel around the country discussing the many career benefits she’s received from being part of the industry.

    In addition to serving as an ambassador, McLaughlin’s role, which actually made her a part-time WIT staffer, will also have her sharing stories on a blog, serving as a subject-matter expert to media requests, and educating legislators and the general public about the trucking profession.

    “Kellylynn has such a passion for the job, and you want to find your best members who can project that out to others,” says WIT Vice President Debbie Sparks. “As an ambassador, she talks about why she loves being a professional truck driver, but she also uses her position to help recruit new members.”

    Even if you don’t have the budget to hire a part-time ambassador like WIT did, there are several other ambassador roles that your members can play. Here are three other association examples:

    Online community ambassadors. Some of your most engaged members might also be frequent contributors to your association’s online community. At the International Society for Technology in Education, members are frequently called upon to help nurture and grow online engagement as community ambassadors.

    “Some examples include welcoming in new members, nudging along conversations that need further attention, or seeding the community with discussions during quieter periods,” says ISTE’s Director of Community Engagement Simon Helton. “We rely on [members] quite a bit, especially because we cover such a wide range of topics and there’s just no way to have enough expertise on our staff to do it all.”

    Social media ambassadors. If members influencers are adept at using Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, or Twitter, associations can recruit people to become social media brand ambassadors for the organization.

    In July, Melissa Russom of Nonprofit Tech for Good outlined seven key steps that make a social media ambassador program successful. Essential to a program’s success are the resources, media assets, and guidelines you provide influencers. Also, a degree of flexibility is required.

    “This is not the time for brand policing,” she writes. “You want individuals with personalities. You want your ambassadors to be themselves, not a scripted version that resembles themselves and strips away the authenticity that made their relationship as an ambassador so powerful, to begin with.”

    Show ambassadors. A few years ago, my colleague Sam Whitehorne blogged about the value of enlisting show ambassadors as part of your conference strategy.

    Conference ambassadors can be especially helpful if your association is looking to get its students or young professionals better engaged. By having these groups serve as ambassadors, there could be bonus payoffs for your long-term membership strategy. “These programs allow associations to get students involved in and familiar with what they do,” Whitehorne writes. “This could mean the students become members in the years ahead, bringing a new generation and dues revenue with them.”

    BY TIM EBNER / FEB 11, 2020The Women in Trucking Association recently launched a driver ambassador program. (Smederevac/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

  • 07 Feb 2020 5:41 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    A new GrowthZone survey indicates that many associations struggle to retain first-year members. If your organisation is one of them, a few adjustments to your member onboarding program could help reverse the trend.

    If it’s been a while since you’ve evaluated how you onboard new members, there’s a new study that suggests now might be a good time to do it. Last week, the association management software firm GrowthZone released its 2020 Association Annual Survey Results, and it has good and bad news.

    The good news first: New-member growth held steady over the past year. Forty-five percent of association professionals surveyed said their new-member rate increased, only one percentage point less than the previous year.

    But there’s a more troubling statistic in this year’s report: Only 11 percent of respondents said their first-year member renewal rate increased in the past year, whereas 26 percent said it went down, and 61 percent said it remained about the same.

    To hold onto new members after that first year, associations need to demonstrate value as quickly as possible, says Amy Gitchell, senior marketing communications specialist at GrowthZone.
    “It’s extremely important that new members understand the value you bring to their lives,” she says. “In the survey, associations whose members recognized their value proposition reported higher renewal rates overall.”
    That means you need to be thinking about proving value from the moment you begin onboarding a new member. If your onboarding program isn’t focused on value, a recent guide from MemberClicks has several ideas for how to make improvements:

    Build targeted communications. In the GrowthZone study, one in four respondents said the top reason they saw increased member engagement was that they sent more targeted email communications to each member.
    Callie Walker, a senior inbound marketing specialist at MemberClicks, recommends using an automated drip email campaign to communicate with members. Sync the campaign with your association management system, where additional member data can be captured.
    For example, when your new members applied for membership, “were they given the option to select special interests?” Walker writes in the guide. “If so, consider sending them content right off the bat about those special interests.”

    Send invitations to a “new members only” event. Hosting a few low-budget events for new members can help them feel welcome. They might take place during your annual meeting or another conference—examples include a networking happy hour or a gathering in a new-members-only lounge, Walker says. And don’t underestimate the power of virtual events, such as regular orientation webinars.
    “The benefit of doing it in a webinar format is that you’re bringing your new members together, getting them to actively engage with your organization, and giving them an opportunity to ask questions—all crucial for onboarding success,” Walker writes.

    Ask questions at the six-month mark. It’s also essential to listen to new members’ feedback at the midpoint of their first year. Walker suggests asking:

    • What do you like the most about membership? What do you like the least?
    • How often and why do you login to use the member portal?
    • What meetings or events have you attended since joining?
    • How likely are you to renew? Why or why not?

    Checking in at the six-month mark gives you a chance to point out opportunities that new members may be missing or to resolve any frustrations they may be experiencing before you ask them to renew.“If there’s something they’re not really digging or taking advantage of, it gives your association the opportunity to make adjustments before the question of renewal is put back on the table,” she writes.

    TIM EBNER - Tim Ebner is a senior editor for Associations Now. He covers membership, leadership, and governance issues.

  • 30 Jan 2020 4:22 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    Attendees take time away from the office and spend money to attend your events. Are you doing everything you can to make them feel appreciated? Five ideas for setting the bar high.

    Earlier this week I came across an article posted on Harvard Business Review (HBR) about small things employers and managers can do to make their employees feel appreciated. The article got me thinking about two things: how it applies to conference attendees, as well as a bad experience I had as an attendee that made me feel unappreciated.

    We’ll start with the latter. During my first job as an editorial assistant for Prevention magazine, I was sent to a holistic health conference. I was excited because not only was it the first conference I got to attend as an official reporter, but I was also getting to fly and stay there on the company dime. Now fast forward to me arriving: I walk in to the registration area where I am asked to give my name. When I do, I’m told, “We have no one registered under that name.” We quickly discover I’m registered under “Samantha Whitehorse.”

    Honestly, it’s not a big deal. My last name has been mispronounced and misspelled practically since I was born, but what was surprising was their solution. Instead of printing me a new name badge, they told me the only option was to hand-write my correct name on a white sheet of paper and shove it in my badge holder. Needless to say, most of my conversations at that conference began with people looking at my badge and saying, “Oh, what happened?” or “So, you signed up at the last minute and they couldn’t make you a proper badge?” Not exactly the impression I wanted to make.

    So, in the vein of HBR, here are five small ways to make your attendees feel appreciated:

    Tell them to what to expect ahead of time. Attendees, especially first-timers, may feel some anxiety about attending your event, so it’s important to give them as much information as you can. You might provide them with a first-timers’ guide or share tips and tricks from your seasoned attendees.

    Make them feel at home once they’re onsite. First impressions are everything, so set the tone immediately when attendees arrive. If that’s at the convention center, make sure you have their name badge ready (with the correct spelling!) and that you give them the tools they need to make the most of your conference. These might include your onsite guide, a personalized list of suggested sessions, or a schedule of networking events.

    Give them the opportunity to provide feedback in real time. Sometimes you can make quick fixes for attendees onsite that make them feel more comfortable—for instance, making the room warmer or turning up the microphone volume in the general session. Give attendees a way to provide feedback in the moment, whether through your conference app or social media.

    Be their note-taker. With multiple sessions to choose from in a particular time slot, attendees won’t be able to get to every learning session they’d like. Consider having a designated person in each session who can take notes on the key takeaways and lessons. After the conference, send a summary out to every attendee, so they don’t feel like they’ve missed out on anything.

    Follow up with them post-conference. Once the closing session wraps up, it doesn’t mean that the experience is over for your attendees. Touch base with them after they’ve returned home. That communication should include not only a post-event survey to get their thoughts, but also a thank you to say the event wouldn’t have been as successful without them being there.

    How does your association make sure that your conference attendees feel appreciated? Tell us about it in the comments.

    BY SAMANTHA WHITEHORNE / JAN 23, 2020 - Association NOW

  • 20 Jan 2020 8:36 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    Your association exists to provide value to members, and likely to improve the profession or niche in which your members operate. If your association is like most, that value comes from the products, programs, services, information, resources, and tools you create. These valuable offerings are produced by your staff or member work groups, task forces, or committees.

    This is the first in a three-part series of articles. Look for the second article in February 2020 and the third in March.

    What is content?

    Content is how our work is manifested in the world. Your products, programs, services, information, resources, and tools are your organization’s content. Here are some examples of content associations create: advocacy issue updates, books, conference proceedings, clinical practice guidelines, courses, legislative talking points, magazine articles, membership details, newsletters, podcasts, press releases, webinars… the list is not exhaustive.

    Associations may decide to create these in various formats: text (articles, blog posts, or web pages), infographics, videos, designed documents (PDFs), graphics, etc. But regardless of the format, it’s all content.

    Who creates associations’ content?

    The people who create this content are subject-matter experts (SMEs) – conference planners, government relations folks, course developers, researchers. That is what you’ve hired them to do, and they usually do their jobs very well. But not all of them have experience communicating their expertise to audiences who need the information but don’t have the deep expertise that the SMEs do.

    As a result, members don’t always know about all the good work your association creates for them – and they may question the benefits they are getting by being a member of your organization.

    But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you treat your content strategically, members are more likely to:

    • Use the programs you create for them
    • Support your efforts to shape industry-positive legislation
    • Register for courses
    • Download research
    • Attend conferences

    And members who take part in what you offer will have more favorable opinions of your organization, and are more likely to renew their membership and recommend your association to industry colleagues.

    What is content strategy?

    Content strategy is the practice of planning for the creation, publication, delivery, and governance of useful, usable, effective content. Useful means the content is presented so its relevance comes through loud and clear. Usable means the content is easy to find and act on. Effective means that the content has a clearly articulated audience and explicit measurable goals, that you do the measurement to determine whether the content met its goals, and that you make decisions about how to publish similar content based on those results

    The objective of content strategy is to get the right content to the right person at the right time for the right action. This takes a partnership between SMEs and people with expertise in content creation, publication, and promotion.

    Why content strategy?

    Smart organizations align their content with their strategic goals. This means several things, as listed in Association Content Strategies for a Changing World, a report published by the ASAE Foundation in 2019:

    • Each piece of content it produces has an explicit, measurable goal tied to a specific outcome of the program that the content is about and a clearly articulated audience.
    • Content is created in a way—terminology, readability level, format, length, timing, etc.—that resonates with the audience.
    • The people with expertise in creating, publishing, and promoting content work in partnership with subject-matter experts managing the organization’s offerings to ensure that the content about and from those programs achieves its goals.
    • The organization evaluates content to determine whether the content meets its goals, and that information drives decisions about what to do more of, do less of, or do differently.
    • Subject-matter experts work in partnership with each other to determine when to collaborate, when to cross-link, and when to reuse content that another department has created.

    Content strategy is a key way associations can make sure that the content about their work is published in a way that resonates with the audience and, therefore, has the greatest chance to succeed.

    What does it take to have content strategy?

    Content strategy consists of six building blocks, each with several tactics: 1) Know the organization; 2) Know the audience, 3) Ensure content effectiveness; 4) Plan and promote content; 5) Support content with structure; and 6) Sustain with content governance/operations

    We will dive in to the blocks and tactics in more detail in the next article, but for now it’s enough to say that not every organization needs to use all of the tactics to achieve content success.

    Starting your content strategy journey

    Every organization’s journey to content strategy is different, because associations have such a diverse set of sizes, focus areas, staff composition, challenges, and industry dynamics.

    But to get started, I suggest that you take stock of where you are now and start planning content better:

    1.      Learn what content you have now with a content audit. You’ll likely uncover content you didn’t know you had, content that is outdated, or old versions of current information.

    2.      See how your content is doing. Start by collecting analytics data for each piece of content. You may be surprised at the low usage of much of your content. (When you create similar content next time, you’ll be identifying the audience and setting measurable goals.)

    3.      Gather everyone who creates content and start conversations about the content they have now and what they plan to create. You’ll all likely identify opportunities to collaborate and cross-link content that is relevant to the same member segment or used for a common purpose.

    There are probably people in your association who already realize the need for a more strategic approach to content. They may be in your communications group, education, marketing, IT, or a program area. If you can find them, the journey will be easier.

    Words Hilary Marsh The Boardroom

  • 16 Jan 2020 5:00 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    Nonprofits’ email open rates rose nearly 5% in 2019, a stark contrast to a slight decrease in worldwide email open rates, according to a new study.

    With an average open rate of 25.20%, nonprofits trailed only government organisations (30.50%) in a benchmark report released by email marketing software provider Campaign Monitor.

    The average email open rate across the 20 measured industries for 2019 was 17.80% — a 0.12% dip from the same report in 2018, in which nonprofits led the field with a 20.39% open rate.

    Campaign Monitor found that, for nonprofits, Wednesday (26.20%) was the highest-performing day; in the 2018 report, Sunday (22.9%) had been the No. 1 day for nonprofit emails.

    While nonprofits exceeded the average for open rates, the average click-through rate for nonprofits settled at 2.60%, matching the global average for 2019. Nonprofit open rates lagged slightly from 2018, when they were measured at 2.66%.

    Certain other industries also saw stark improvements: government open rates improved by a stunning 10.71% (from 19.79% to 30.5%), while education open rates improved by 4.5% (from 18.9% to 23.4%).

    Mondays and Wednesdays rated the best for nonprofit click-through rates, at 2.70%; Sunday, Thursday and Friday trailed at 2.50%. Overall, Tuesdays were the best day for email open rates across industries, at 18.30%.

    Nonprofit emails also slightly exceeded the global averages in bounce rate (1.00% to 0.7%), and unsubscribe rate (0.2% to 0.1%).

    Campaign Monitor said in a press release that the report was developed after analyzing billions of emails sent globally using its platform.

    “Marketing has evolved to become a data-driven discipline, and marketers need to actively measure the effectiveness of their campaigns and programs,” said Lane Harbin, director of marketing at Campaign Monitor, which boasts more than 250,000 customers worldwide. “Savvy marketers can use this information to quickly double down on areas where they are excelling and determine where they need to make improvements in 2020.”

    For nonprofits, the latest findings reinforce an industry-wide trend toward email marketing. Another 2019 report from CampaignMonitor and QGiv found that a plurality of donors – 42% – say they prefer to hear from a nonprofit via email.

    Chris Strub Contributor 

    CMO Network I highlight successful social media strategies from savvy nonprofits.

  • 09 Jan 2020 5:11 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    Associations pros frequently cite member engagement as a top challenge, and many of the most effective ways to make easier connections with members are in the digital realm. Here are three items to add to your online engagement plan in the new year.

    If January is for making new year’s resolutions, then association professionals might want to spend some quality time thinking about boosting member engagement in the coming year. Most associations have a good set of digital tools available, but it might be time to take a look at ways you could use them better to make the member experience feel more relevant and real.

    In a GrowthZone survey, association professionals ranked member engagement as the top challenge of 2019, higher than recruitment and retention or challenges with communicating member value, attracting young members, or funding.

    Shaun O’Reilly, vice president of marketing at MemberSuite, thinks member engagement will remain the top challenge in 2020. He argues that association professionals need to start thinking strategically if they want to succeed in making routine touchpoints with time-strapped members. “What we advocate is that associations should engage online through a continuous and segmented approach,” O’Reilly says.

    He suggests three areas where associations can focus on digital engagement this year:

    Member portals. An association’s online community is where members go for information, resources, and connections. O’Reilly believes that many member portals are underutilized or overlooked as engagement opportunities. To get better results this year, he says it helps to think like a community manager.

    You might already have a community manager on staff, but you could cross-train other staff members and member volunteers to serve as community ambassadors. This creates champions who know how to cultivate and encourage community conversations online. “With the right functionality and people, [a member portal] can transform into a dynamic place for online engagement,” he says.

    Social media diversification. This could be the year you break out of business as usual on social media. O’Reilly says associations should go beyond pushing social posts to followers and embrace social media as a customer service interface, as many brands do. “Look at all the different channels you’re on and think about how you might use them differently to deliver messaging and support,” he says.

    Also consider new platforms for engagement. For instance, Fast Company recently reported that Facebook engagement is declining, whereas TikTok engagement is growing quickly, especially with millennials and members of Gen Z. How might you use TikTok to engage members?

    Sponsored content. Too often, O’Reilly says, sponsored content is viewed purely as a nondues revenue opportunity. “However, I think associations need to get more creative if they want to find digital content opportunities that can serve revenue goals and member engagement,” he says. “Sponsored content is not just about getting in front of people; it’s about building a connection.”

    A strong sponsored content program provides valuable knowledge and information to readers from sponsors with expertise to share. In turn, it gives sponsors a platform to create a meaningful connection to the community. In the new year, O’Reilly says, associations should look for opportunities to start or grow a sponsored content program as a way to drive engagement as well as revenue.

    Have you found member engagement to be a challenge at your association? How are you addressing the issue through digital engagement? Post your comments below.


    Tim Ebner is a senior editor for Associations Now. He covers membership, leadership, and governance issues.

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