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Three Strategies for Member Engagement

By Brandi McGrath Kong, Director of Member Services


This past year is like no other we have ever seen. The way we approached membership had to change. While many of Sertoma’s activities are typically focused on membership recruitment and retention, the pandemic has given us a unique opportunity to focus on membership engagement. Of course, we couldn’t do it through our usual face-to-face meetings as we’d like, but clubs just like yours have found ways to bring those important interactions to a virtual setting. But what else should we be doing?

Let’s start at the very beginning – what is member engagement? According to enSYNC Corporation, a membership management consulting firm, membership engagement is the ongoing interaction between a member and an organization in the pursuit for meaningful value. It differs from customer service in that membership engagement is a proactive means of approaching your members. We are actively focused on trying to build and maintain a relationship with those who are part of our club. We seek to provide a positive experience. Members want value and we want to provide it to them. 

This can be achieved in many ways, but let’s focus on three strategies:

1. Engagement through Mission: Mission drives everything we do at Sertoma. On the national front, we strive to improve the quality of life today for those at risk or impacted by hearing loss through education and support. On a more local level, our clubs have diverse missions focused on nearly every worthy cause you can imagine. Chances are, your members joined your club because they believe in the mission that you support. They want to engage in mission activities that benefit your local community. 

It is your job as a club to promote your mission to members and potential recruits. Does your mission support the local causes that matter most to your members? Hopefully, the answer is yes, and finding ways to engage them in volunteerism and fundraising is a natural fit. If not, is there potential for a new partnership that would be attractive to members and prospects? 

The good thing about all of this is that it is usually something your club is already doing and likely doing well. Where we tend to fall short is angling it as a benefit of membership. Make sure that you are leveraging this in a way that engages with your members. Even if they can’t give time or money to the cause at hand, this is a great time to remind members why your club is important. Make these activities the stars of your club communications, whether it be on social media or in your newsletter. Highlight the efforts at your next meeting. The more you talk about it, the more likely people are to get excited and want to join in. 

2. Engagement through Service: As we noted earlier, members likely joined your club because they believe in what you’re doing. However, it’s more than that. It’s personal. Sertomans have a heart of service. They want to give back to their community through actively engaging in volunteer activities that benefit the places where they live, work and play. 

Knowing this, the question becomes how can we find ways to use this spirit of volunteerism to recognize current members and attract new ones? The answer is engagement through service. 

One thing to keep in mind as you engage in service – always be prepared! Have an elevator speech ready so that you can talk about the great things your club is doing at any time. You should have membership packets and business cards so that you can share information about joining your club. 

3. Engagement through Education: The causes that our clubs support are so important, but many clubs tend to never really talk about them. Sure, there is a passive article here and there in the local paper, but the most successful clubs are going out into their community and talking about what they’re doing. So how can your members help educate the public about your club and causes?

The easiest and simplest way is to find ways to position your members as experts in your local community. Groups are constantly looking for speakers, so find ways to build up and promote your club’s speaking repertoire. And of course, make sure to bring it full circle and connect everything back to your mission and service. 

You can learn more about membership engagement in our latest on-demand training.