Supporter engagement

Connected associations: Solving the member engagement puzzle

Regardless of your association’s size, structure, type, and mission, chances are you want what every association’s leadership team wants: satisfied, engaged members who find value in belonging to your community. This goal is so desired because of the positive outcomes of high retention rates, healthy operating margins, and unequivocal mission success.

Member engagement strategies vary significantly from one organization to the next, but what doesn’t vary in the formula for successful engagement is the importance of genuinely connecting with members and delivering personalized service, customized content, and seamless experiences.

To help your association better engage members, we’ll explore a few member management strategies, the software that can help facilitate that engagement, and the experts to turn to help manage that software

Offer high-value engagement opportunities

Why do your members pay dues to your association? Both your team and your members should have an immediate answer to this question. Keep your members engaged by offering a variety of in-demand activities that are valuable to their career and learning objectives. 

For example, you might offer:

  • Continuing education courses
  • Networking events
  • Lectures and workshops
  • Articles about the latest news in your industry
  • Access to a membership base of industry professionals

Providing opportunities is the first step to effectively engaging members. For example, one way to strengthen partnerships with sponsors as well as enhance the opportunities available to members is by offering a variety of sponsorship levels for events. Ensure members know what you are offering by regularly letting them know about new content they can explore. 

New members will need more direction to help them take full advantage of your association’s offerings. Create a welcome email series that introduces them to your association and highlights popular content for them to explore. 

Get to know your members 

To engage your community and make their membership valuable, you must know as much about them as possible. Throughout their engagement with your association, track each member’s:

  • Tenure and type of membership
  • Event participation
  • Continuing education (CE) points earned
  • Content downloaded from your site
  • Activity on member committees and community forums
  • Interactions with staff
  • Certifications received
  • Directories accessed
  • Surveys answered 

Capturing and managing all of this data with just a few spreadsheets can quickly become overwhelming and lead to human errors. Associations must ensure this information is accessible by all relevant departments and readily available to customize members’ experiences. The top way to do this is by investing in comprehensive association management systems like Fonteva and Salesforce, which we’ll explore in more detail later. 

Show appreciation

Your association provides members with valuable opportunities to expand their skill sets, make connections, and advance their careers. However, you can always do more to let them know they’re a valued part of your association’s community. 

Here are a few member appreciation ideas to get creative with how you thank your members for their continued participation in your organization: 

  • Events. Not every event needs to be a formal gathering. Some of the most successful networking events can be casual get-togethers where members are encouraged to relax, get to know one another, and feel appreciated for their contributions to your association. 
  • Gifts. Little presents can go a long way toward building a sense of community at your association. Send branded gifts like mugs, t-shirts, and fridge magnets. Or, for higher-tier members, offer valuable gifts related to your association’s industry, like gift cards to relevant stores or subscriptions to professional magazines. 
  • Spotlights. Have your members done anything particularly interesting or notable at your association? If so, consider featuring them in a member spotlight in your newsletter. Doing so will highlight their role in your member mentorship program, innovative user-generated content they created, or a significant donation they made at your last gala. 
  • eCards. eCards are a quick but memorable way to show your appreciation. Use an eCard platform to design creative digital thank-you letters that members can open in their inboxes. 
  • Feedback surveys. One way to show your appreciation is to make your members feel heard. Send out feedback surveys to allow members to voice their ideas and concerns. Then, if any ideas have potential, you can implement them to improve your membership program.

To maximize your appreciation efforts, record each interaction with members and strategically plan how to advance your relationships with them. You can track your engagement with all your members more efficiently with a system like Fonteva, Nimble, or Salesforce. 

Turn to Fíonta, Salesforce, and a Salesforce-based AMS like Fonteva or Nimble to ensure member engagement

Think about all your association’s “connection opportunities” for engaging members. Each of these moments is like a piece in the larger puzzle of a satisfied and dedicated member. 

Fonteva, Fíonta, and Salesforce are each depicted as interlinked puzzle pieces, representing how they help associations connect with members. 

The membership engagement puzzle consists of dozens of elements that provide a unique view of who that member is and what they need from their relationship with your association.

Associations increasingly turn to Fonteva or Nimble (both built on the Salesforce platform) and Salesforce itself to capture all the data points that make up that puzzle and solve the member engagement puzzle.

  • AMS tools collect relevant data from members so they can be assigned one or more identifying markers (called “badges”). These enable associations to automatically direct members to the most relevant sections of their website and grant them member-specific permissions to download content, update member profiles, register for events, fill out surveys, and complete transactions.
  • Salesforce stores, extracts, analyzes, and updates member data and provides reports to help organizations keep track of member interactions, including their phone calls, website visits, emails, newsletters, and attendance at events.

Cloud-based software like Salesforce is also highly convenient for associations with remote and hybrid teams. Updates made by one user can be seen across your entire platform in real-time, enabling collaborative work and allowing your staff to respond quickly to opportunities and challenges.

Member engagement case in point: Fonteva’s event management solution

Perhaps the richest opportunity that associations have to engage with members is at events. From the planning stages until the post-event emails have been sent, Fonteva Events (100% native to Salesforce) is an indispensable solution that manages all the moving parts involved in hosting conventions and conferences. 

Fonteva’s member-facing functionality allows members to register, purchase booth space, sign up as speakers or roundtable participants, sponsor a breakfast or cocktail party, and book hotel rooms. Back-office users have robust out-of-the-box functionality, and the solution is highly flexible and equipped with a drag-and-drop interface, allowing teams to create custom processes to meet their unique needs. 

While the power of the Fonteva and Salesforce partnership is undeniable, the path to full functionality can be frustrating for association leaders who are unfamiliar with their platforms. That’s where Fíonta excels. Our expertise with both platforms and the robust functionality of Salesforce Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) and Nonprofit Cloud assures association leaders that they can capture all of their members’ relevant characteristics and behaviors and mine that data to develop deep and lasting relationships. 

Beyond engaging with members, Fíonta helps you communicate with them

Fíonta’s nearly twenty years of experience helping associations thrive has resulted in a deep and broad understanding of their challenges and opportunities, including member engagement. Our long-term relationships with Fonteva and Salesforce have solidified our belief that every association can live up to its full potential and exceed members’ expectations. 

To that end, we have a solid bench of subject matter experts on hand to help associations and other nonprofits with member management and analytics and third-party marketing tools like Pardot and Marketing Cloud. With marketing, member management, and analytics tools, your association has all the pieces to complete your membership engagement puzzle. 

Create a positive engagement cycle at your association 

Every element in the formula for successful member engagement builds on the one that came before it. It all starts with understanding member characteristics in-depth and providing seamless user experiences. Interest compounds when you send members personalized, actionable marketing messages and give them access to the full suite of events, certifications, and content that comes with membership. All these elements should integrate seamlessly to ensure your “connected association” is best in class and second to none.   

It may sound complicated, but it’s really not when you let Fíonta weave it all together. We’ll help you create custom workflows, actionable reports, and personalized messages to ensure that your association is ready for the future and that your members are engaged and committed to going there with you.

Share your challenges with us – contact Fíonta today.