Positive psychology shows that expressing gratitude is beneficial to both the giver and the receiver. However, research also shows that we undervalue the impact expressing our appreciation has and, as a result, don’t do it enough. Likewise, member appreciation efforts are crucial to your overall membership retention strategy and are a key way for how to boost membership. However, if you’re not using association management software like MemberClicks, they can be easy to forget when you’re already managing so many other tasks.
When you provide your members with a warm welcome and a positive experience, you help them feel like it’s worth their while to stay involved in your association. It takes a lot less effort to retain the members you have than to constantly be in recruitment mode. Therefore, it’s beneficial to set aside some time to refine your member appreciation program.
As an added benefit, when your members feel appreciated, it creates a culture where they’re more likely to recommend your association to others, making your recruitment efforts a little easier.
In this guide, we’ll cover a few critical aspects of member appreciation to get you started, including:
- Why a member appreciation day is a great idea
- 9 ideas that will engage your members
- 4 steps to hosting a member appreciation day
- How your association management software can help you show appreciation
Why Should You Improve Your Member Appreciation Efforts?
As mentioned above, having a concrete member appreciation strategy benefits both you and your members.
People like to be acknowledged and appreciated for their contributions. When you let members know that you’re grateful for their involvement, they’ll be more engaged in what you have to offer.
For example, if you publicly thank a member for hosting a webinar for other members last month, that thanks could encourage them to attend another in the future as a show of support. Additionally, it could inspire a different member to sign up to be the next webinar host.
Recognizing your members for their dedication to your association’s industry both positions your organization as a valuable leader within the field and gives your members a space to elevate their professional standing.
For example, if your association works with restaurant professionals, receiving your annual award for being the best local chef could be something members aspire to and then highlight at their businesses.
Above all, the main benefit of these member appreciation efforts is that they ensure your organization sees a higher retention rate in the future. The more you can engage with members and create a positive relationship with them, the more likely they are to stay involved in your association.
9 Member Appreciation Ideas to Engage Your Membership Base
Member appreciation efforts can span a variety of activities, so don’t be afraid to get creative! If you’re wondering where to start, here are nine ideas for engaging your members while expressing your gratitude.
1. Make joining your organization a celebration.
It’s never too early to start expressing your gratitude. Use a personalized welcome letter to set a positive tone right away and thank new members for joining. You can even send new members perks, such as gift cards or free merchandise.
Making a positive first impression shows your new members right away that you value them and that they can expect your acknowledgement throughout their membership.
2. Implement a member appreciation day or week.
Turn your appreciation into a day- or week-long celebration of your members. By starting an appreciation day or week, you can centralize your appreciation efforts into an exciting event. More on this in the section below!
3. Shout-out members on your social media.
You have members achieving amazing things all the time, whether they’re receiving a promotion in their field or earning continuing education certificates. Make sure to let them know you’re proud of their achievements and glad they’re a part of your organization.
A simple way to do this is to use your social media pages like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to highlight these members. Be sure to turn on post sharing so they can easily re-share their accomplishments with their family and friends!
4. Ask members for their opinions.
A great way to show your members that you appreciate them—while simultaneously bettering your organization—is to ask them for their feedback. Creating a member needs assessment helps to keep your members satisfied in the benefits you’re offering and also shows them that you value their opinions.
Make sure to review all member surveys, determine ways to address issues or incorporate member ideas into your work, and then communicate to members what actionable steps you’re taking as a result of their feedback. Members will want to hear how they helped make a difference and why you appreciated their time in doing so.
5. Create a member-of-the-month program.
A member-of-the-month program highlights a different member each month to your audience. You can showcase their professional skills, what they bring to your association, and a few fun facts about them. This both helps members feel more connected to one another while also directly expressing your appreciation for a new one each month.
If you have a monthly newsletter, that is an effective way to incorporate this member appreciation strategy. Use a segment of your newsletter to highlight the member-of-the-month’s accomplishments and contributions.
6. Host a member appreciation event.
Member appreciation events can take many forms, from informal gatherings with snacks to cocktail attire galas with plaques awarded to key members. You can even host a virtual networking event where you highlight a few accomplishments of attendees and what others might be interested in learning from them.
The main goal of a member appreciation event is to create an environment where members have a chance to mingle with each other while feeling mutually supported by your association. After the event, make sure to also thank everyone for coming.
7. Offer multiple ways to get involved.
Not every one of your members will want to serve on your board or become a major leader within your association. Show your appreciation for each member’s time and skillset by offering a variety of opportunities, from educational seminars and online workshops to volunteer days.
Giving members different ways to interact with your association helps them to find their place within your organization and increases the likelihood that they’ll want to continue as a member in the future. It’s important to show that you value your members who are more comfortable behind-the-scenes as much as you do your visible leaders.
8. Send a handwritten thank-you note.
Handwritten notes can feel much more personal than an email or social media message. Take time each week to send some of your members a handwritten member appreciation letter to thank them for their involvement with your association. When renewal time comes around, they’ll likely remember the care and attention to detail that went into that message and feel more drawn to keeping their membership.
9. Send tokens of appreciation.
You want to make sure that both new members and members who have been with you for several years feel appreciated and valued. For long-time members, consider sending them free merchandise or offer them membership discounts to show appreciation for their dedication. They’ll likely enjoy you noticing their loyalty to your work.
Implementing a member appreciation day
A member appreciation day is a great way to celebrate your members! Having a dedicated day to say “thank you!” is a great way to:
- Build hype over time for your activities, events and celebrations
- Do something a little bigger than small tokens of appreciation throughout the year
- Develop deeper relationships between you and your members
- Improve member retention over time
- Highlight member accomplishments
How to organize a member appreciation day
There are 4 steps to hosting a member appreciation day.
Step 1: Pick a date & place
First things first, you’ll have to pick a day and where/how you’ll host it. You could host it virtually or in person at an event. In terms of what day you’ll want to have it, you don’t want it to be too close to any other events you’re hosting or busy/important seasons for your members.
Step 2: Let your members know that you’re hosting one!
Once you’ve got your date and place decided, you’ll need to inform your members (and industry audience) that you’re hosting a member appreciation day! We recommend starting by crafting an email and social media campaign that will focus on attracting both potential members and existing members to participate.
You’ll want to start blasting out some promotion at least 45-60 days prior. The goal is to initiate some buzz around your event, so consider sharing some of your engagement activities for the day (see point below) and promote anything that could build the hype.
Also, don’t stop at only social media! Take bits of your original campaign and craft some thoughtful emails to your subscriber list to see about reaching those folks that don’t follow your main social media channels. You can also post on your members-only platform, online community, website and in any newsletters you have.
Step 3: Plan how you’ll celebrate your members!
Now onto the fun part! You’ll need to have some plans in place to actually celebrate your members! Celebrating could be a few things. It could be:
- Having some fun activities for your members to enjoy
- Highlighting some highly engaged members
- Handing out awards for things like most membership growth, most revenue, most event attendees, etc
While your exact activities will range depending on your industry and members, we’ve got some ideas on how to get your members (and potential members) excited! Check them out below:
- Create a trivia game online (we recommend Google forms) and submit your winners into a raffle for various prizes (Amazon gift cards, free webinar registration, etc)
- Provide a special day-only discount on upcoming webinars and conference registrations
- Create an industry-related volunteer opportunity that your local members can attend and promote other remote volunteer opportunities in other major cities
- Host a short online webinar with an industry-related guest to talk about a relevant hot topic in your field
Step 4: Follow up AFTER your event
Once your member appreciation day is over, it’s still important to show up for your members. Your first step post-event should be to send out a thank you email to everyone who attended for being involved in your appreciation day.
You can also share some highlights in your general newsletter and on your social platforms. This can create a little bit of FOMO for those who didn’t attend. It also shows potential members how you show appreciation for those who join your organization.
Using Your Membership Management System to Conduct Appreciation Efforts
To streamline your approach to membership appreciation, you can use association management software like MemberClicks. Your membership management system can help you:
- Easily get in touch with members through a contact centre. You can target, track, and automate your emails through your association management software. This can help you reach members based on their length of time with your association, membership renewal date, general interests, and more, to better customize your gestures of appreciation.
- Create a member-facing website to provide updates and member shout-outs. This is a great way to highlight your member-of-the-month and facilitate conversations between members. Keeping members engaged in different ways through a personalized website shows you appreciate them by meeting them where they are.
- Build online surveys to gather member feedback. Design, collect, and review your member needs assessment all in one place. Using association management software helps you collect feedback following specific events or for the year as a whole.
MemberClicks offers a robust association management software that makes expressing your gratitude for members a simple process. By baking your member appreciation strategy directly into your overall management flow, you can increase your membership retention rates by never forgetting another thank you.
Show your members some appreciation
At the end of the day, your organization only exists because of your members. Make sure to say thank you and show them how you value them. A member appreciation day is the perfect place to start.