If you’ve ever been to a professional sporting event, you’ve probably noticed that there’s not much people won’t do for a free T-shirt. But chances are your goals don’t involve talking someone into doing the chicken dance in front of thousands of people. Perhaps all you need are volunteers to hang out at an event for a few hours or complete profiles on their AMS listings. Sometimes simply asking doesn’t quite get the job done. Let’s look at the age-old principle of offering incentives, and see if it would work for your association.

 incentive carrot

Who gets these incentives?

Anyone whom you would like to complete a task, but whom you’re not already paying for said task. You shouldn’t offer incentives to paid employees… their incentive is salary. But if  you’re asking your members or staff to complete tasks on their own time or outside the responsibilities they were hired/volunteered for, it could be time to offer a little token of gratitude to make sure the motivation is there.

I already provide my members with a valuable service. Why should I give them more?

Because your members belong to your association and probably pay dues, you can make a safe assumption they’re committed to the cause your group stands for. But that doesn’t mean they’re invested in the day-to-day tasks that keep the association going, and that could be where you really need them. Also keep in mind that priorities are different for every person. You can up the benefit of helping so that your associations’ needs are a greater priority by offering an incentive.

What incentives should I give out?

Cash is generally the first thought and will always be a motivator, but there are a few problems with just handing out money. First of all, it’s generic. It’s the birthday card with a $20 in it. You’re grateful to get it, but you can tell that not a whole lot of throught went into it. Also, it’s a huge line in your budget that you may not have room for. So for the point of this blog, we’re going to look at other options. You’ll have to make some considerations based on what your budget allows! Also it never hurts to see if partners or friends are willing to make donations.

Every association is bound to have different members, and it’s hard to find something (besides cash) that’s going to have universal appeal.

Sometimes incentive can be as simple as being recognized. Does your organization hold regular meetings? How about a large annual meeting? That could be a great place to take a moment and send a shout out to the members who have helped out. I bet you’ll get other people seeking the same kind of recognition in the next year.

Also keep gifts in mind. While iPads are popular, stick something that’s specific to your association. Picking up the bill for a certification in your field is always a good idea, or maybe even waive dues or ticket prices to an event.

Now decide what you need help with, and dangle that carrot!