Membership Retention and Engagement Strategies
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Membership Retention and Engagement Strategies

February 25, 2020


Welcome to our online workshop focusing on
retaining and engaging both members and officers of your student organization. In this workshop we’re going to discuss
how to market meetings in order to attract new members, how to then engage with those
members in a meaningful way in order to keep them around, how to hold officers accountable
if they start to lose focus, and overall how to boost your numbers across the board and
keep everyone engaged. So let’s start with some basic tips to help
you recruit some new members. Often groups market their meetings as literally
that, as a general meeting. You might see banners that say “General
meeting #3, Tue at 8.” This can be alienating for new people, like
starting a new show on the third season. Instead, market each meeting as a standalone
event, so find a theme or a topic and build your meeting around that. If you can’t distill what your meeting is
really about, maybe it’s time to question if you need to meet as often as you are. If you’re bringing an alumni to come talk,
market that. Promote that you’re working on the upcoming
culture show and have that be the focus. This allows new members to feel like they
can hop on anytime and not be lost, at any point in the year. Also make sure to market that you have open
officer positions, if you do. New members might be more enticed if they’re
looking for a substantial way to contribute to a club. Now let’s talk about when new members show
up for the first time. You want to make sure that these new members
somehow feel included. The easiest way is to assign greeters at the
door to meet these members and talk to them. People join clubs to make friends, regardless
what your actual subject matter is. So make sure to chat with them, maybe make
sure you get their email address or some point of contact, and make them feel at home. You could also incorporate introductions into
the actual meeting, if you have new folks there. Reversely, you could also reintroduce officers
every time there’s new members so that they get a chance to learn who is who and how the
club works. It just takes a minute or two but can be incredibly
valuable. We want to go deeper though, then just socializing
with these new folks. To really keep them around, you have to hook
them with something. There needs to be a reason for them to come
back, a reason they’re needed. So have these new members, on the very first
day, commit to something. Don’t feel bad giving them some sort of
minimal homework, they want to help, that’s why they showed up. By asking them to join a committee for example,
you’re letting them know that they’re needed and valuable. Consider creating committees for things like
social media or tabling or even big events you’re hosting. This immediately connects them to the group
and gives them a purpose, though the commitment shouldn’t be too much to scare them away. Also make sure that you bring up your open
officer positions. But make this process legitimate, don’t
just ask who wants to be Treasurer and then give them the title. Go through the process, do elections at the
next meeting, and announce a new Treasurer formally. This will mean much more, it’ll mean that
this was significant and it’s a job they can’t easily give up on. If you just give away positions to people,
they’ll feel that if they stop doing their job, you’ll just as easily pick someone
else. Another good way to engage with members during
a meeting is to do some sort of teambuilder or icebreaker. There are risks here because some icebreakers,
if done incorrectly, can be incredibly alienating. Asking strangers to get way too close to each
other and do something that makes them uncomfortable might push them away for good, so make sure
you’re doing activities that make sense. If your meeting is focused on your big culture
show coming up, maybe you do a teambuilder that has people share a part of their culture
that they want to celebrate in the show. Teambuilders can totally connect to the other
parts of your meeting seamlessly. The other side of this presentation is about
accountability and what to do when people flake or disappear on you, especially people
with responsibilities. So let’s talk about expectations and how
you bring them up. Firstly, be really up front about expectations
that you have of members. If you have dues, tell people, don’t surprise
them and ask for money. If you have requirements for community service
or how many meetings they need to attend, tell them. I’d recommend working any of these requirements
into your constitution, so that you have an easier time backing them up (and so we can
support you too). Financial expectations such as dues need to
be in your constitution. If we find out that you’re asking people
for money and it’s not in your constitution, we might ask you to pay that money back until
you go about it the right way. While it’s good to set expectations, be
reasonable with them. If general members have to attend three meetings
and you only have three meetings, that means they need to attend every meeting, which sounds
a bit unreasonable. So be flexible and reasonable. Once you’re up front with these expectations,
it’s important to enforce them. If you let people off the hook, everything
you’ve worked for is meaningless. If they’re no longer an active member, so
be it. If someone is no longer eligible to be Vice
President, that means you replace them with someone who can dedicate a little more time
and energy to the group. Enforce these things. Some groups like to put these expectations
into contracts or agreements. This is especially useful for officers and
when you need to hold them accountable. Make sure everyone reads and understands these
expectations and that they sign this document. So when they stop showing up to meetings,
you can point to this document and say: “You’re making me do this.” It’s not a surprise, it’s not personal. They didn’t do x and y, so here’s the
result. A lot of competitive groups use contracts
to ensure people attend practice, so that they don’t just show up for the games. So those are just some ideas. Ways to engage new members and keep them around,
how to promote officer positions, and then how to hold people accountable to what they
commit to. If you have any questions or want to talk
more about this, swing by Student Life and chat with one of our organization advisors
and we can help. Thanks for watching!

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