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14 Impactful Ideas for an Engaging New Member Orientation 

Andrea Amorosi October 6, 2023
Table of Contents
9 min read

In the ever-evolving landscape of membership-based organizations, one constant remains—the importance of new members. These fresh faces carry with them not just numbers, but new ideas, enthusiasm, and the potential for future leadership. However, attracting these individuals is only the first step. How you integrate them into your established community can significantly impact their long-term commitment and involvement. Enter the new member orientation, a critical moment in setting the tone for a lasting relationship. 

So, what is a new member orientation? At its core, new member orientation is an introductory session or series of sessions designed to familiarize newcomers with the ins and outs of an organization. It provides a comprehensive overview of the association’s values, mission, objectives, and opportunities available. By effectively orienting new members, you not only set the stage for immediate engagement but also lay the groundwork for sustained involvement. It ensures that members not only understand but also maximize the numerous benefits associated with their membership, leading them to stay actively involved for years to come.  

Why is new member orientation important? 

Consider the moment you last entered an unfamiliar setting, whether it was a new social group, a job, or a different neighborhood. Your initial impressions and interactions shape your understanding of that place’s culture, its offerings, and the advantages of being a part of it. Similarly, for associations, these initial experiences are invaluable. A well-structured orientation can fulfill several objectives: 

  • Positive First Impressions: A new member’s initial experience with your organization can strongly influence their overall perception, commitment, and level of involvement. Creating a positive, informative, and welcoming experience from the outset isn’t just a good-to-have; it’s a necessity.  
  • Setting Expectations: It’s important that new members understand the organization’s mission, vision, and objectives early on. This foundational knowledge allows them to align their personal and professional goals with that of the association. 
  • Building Connections: Orientations can serve as a platform for new members to connect with peers, mentors, and organizational leaders. These early relationships often serve as a catalyst for prolonged engagement. 
  • Showcasing Opportunities: Members join associations for various reasons—networking, professional development, advocacy, etc. An orientation highlights the myriad opportunities available, ensuring members can make the most of their membership right from the start. 

As you learn about the importance of new member orientations, it’s essential to look beyond mere induction processes or welcome kits. It’s about laying a foundation for a lasting relationship, one that ensures both the member and the organization thrive together.  

14 New member orientation ideas 

Every member’s journey is unique, and their introduction to the organization should reflect that. Tailoring your approach, being innovative, and genuinely striving to resonate with new members can profoundly influence their engagement levels. Here are a couple of actionable ideas to enhance the new member orientation experience: 

Update your website

The front door to any organization in today’s world is its website. This is the first point of contact for many new members and often the place they return to when they need information or resources. 

Accessibility: It’s essential that when a new member logs on, they can effortlessly find the information they need. Updated membership details, benefits, and an events calendar should be at the forefront, clearly visible, and easy to navigate. Think of it this way: A new member is akin to a guest in your home. How do you make sure they know where everything is and feel comfortable? 

Storytelling: Every organization has a unique story, a mission that drives its actions and goals. Your website should narrate this story. For a newcomer, understanding the organization’s history, its core values, and its vision can be instrumental. It creates a connection, a sense of belonging. This is not just a list of dates and events; it’s the ethos that binds every member together. 

Send a welcome email 

Joining a new organization can be exhilarating but also overwhelming. Amidst the rush of signing up and exploring, a new member can easily feel lost. A simple, yet profoundly effective remedy is a heartfelt welcome email. 

Personalization: Begin by addressing the new member by their name. It’s a small gesture, but it creates an immediate connection. An email that says, “Dear Alex” resonates far more than a generic “Dear Member.” 

Branding Consistency: Make sure your email carries your organization’s branding. This is more than just a logo at the top. It’s about the colors, the tone of the message, and the overall design. Consistent branding not only looks professional but reinforces trust and authenticity. 

Highlight Opportunities: Give a snapshot of what’s coming up. It could be upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, or even online webinars. This not only keeps the members informed but actively encourages them to participate. 

And if you’re wondering how to craft that perfect welcome email, look no further. Here’s a valuable resource for you: the MemberClicks video on How to Craft the Perfect New Member Welcome Email. 

Spotlight new members 

Recognizing new members isn’t just about making them feel welcome—it’s about celebrating their decision to join your community. One effective way to do this is by spotlighting them

Public Acknowledgment: Feature new members in your social media posts, be it a brief introduction on Instagram stories or a welcome tweet. Online recognition not only makes them feel valued but also integrates them faster into the community. 

Newsletter Nods: In your email newsletters, dedicate a section to welcome new members. Not only does this familiarize older members with newcomers, but it also fosters a sense of unity. 

Consent is Key: Remember, always get permission from the new members before spotlighting them. Privacy is paramount, and ensuring their comfort should be your top priority. 

Provide a new member welcome package 

Nothing says “welcome” quite like a thoughtful welcome package. It’s tangible proof of an organization’s dedication to its members. 

Personal Touch: Start with a heartfelt welcome letter. Outline the organization’s values, express excitement about their membership, and offer avenues for them to engage and contribute. 

Stay Updated: Include an event calendar highlighting significant dates, activities, and any member-specific events. 

Key Info: Ensure they’re informed about dues, renewal dates, and other vital membership details. 

Branded Merchandise: Throw in some free branded merchandise like a pen, notebook, or a tote bag. It’s not only a token of appreciation but also a way for them to display their affiliation. 

Produce a new member welcome video 

In an age where video content reigns supreme, a welcome video is both engaging and effective. 

Visual Welcome: Consider producing a short welcome video or webinar. This could be a virtual tour of the organization, interviews with existing members, or an overview of benefits and opportunities. 

Convenience: A pre-recorded video allows new members to engage with the orientation material at their own pace and on their own schedule. 

Direct new members to online resources 

A thriving community has a plethora of online resources. Make sure your new members know where to find them. 

Member Directory: This is a tool for members to connect, collaborate, and network. 

Discussion Boards: Places for members to ask questions, share experiences, and engage in meaningful discussions. 

Stay Social: Direct them to your organization’s social media pages. It’s a platform for updates, engagements, and more. 

Blog: If you maintain a blog, it’s a reservoir of insights, updates, and valuable content. 

Support: Always provide member support contact information. Whether they have questions or need assistance, knowing where to turn is essential. 

Have existing members share their experience 

Stories resonate. They inspire, motivate, and foster connections. 

Digital Storytelling: Encourage longstanding members to share their journey on social media. These personal narratives can inspire and guide newcomers. 

In-Person Shares: At orientation events, have a segment where a few seasoned members recount their experiences, challenges, and the value they’ve derived from the organization. It adds a personal touch and makes the organization’s impact tangible for new members. 

Ask new members for feedback 

Every new member joins with unique expectations and goals. To truly serve their needs, you need to understand their perspective. 

Survey Sentiments: Shortly after their onboarding, send out a feedback survey. This isn’t just about measuring their initial experience, but also about gauging what they hope to achieve with their membership. 

Suggested Questions: 

  1. What motivated you to join our organization? 
  1. What are your top three expectations from this membership? 
  1. Are there specific events or programs you’re keen on participating in? 
  1. Do you have any skills or expertise you’d like to contribute or further develop? 
  1. How do you prefer to receive communication from us: email, social media, or text? 

Organize a new member welcome event 

Nothing fosters connections like face-to-face interactions. 

A Warm Welcome: Organize an event, be it an intimate gathering or a larger mixer, dedicated entirely to welcoming new members. It’s an opportunity for them to meet, mingle, and familiarize themselves with the organization’s community. 

Mix of Old and New: Invite a mix of veteran and new members. Such interactions can provide newcomers with insights, guidance, and personal anecdotes that make the organization’s journey more relatable. 

Offer a tour 

Familiarity breeds comfort. 

Open Doors: If you have a physical office, space, or facility, offer new members a tour. It’s a simple gesture that can significantly improve their sense of belonging. 

Virtual Tours: In today’s digital age, virtual tours can be equally effective, especially for members who may not be local or able to visit in person. Use platforms or video content to guide them through key areas, introduce them to staff, and showcase facilities. 

Assign a “buddy” to new members 

Navigating a new organization can be daunting. But having a friendly face and guide can change that. 

Pairing Up: Assign a seasoned member as a “buddy” to newcomers. This isn’t just about having someone to answer questions but about fostering genuine connections. 

Shared Interests: Whenever possible, try to pair members based on similar interests, goals, or backgrounds. This ensures that the relationship is beneficial and resonant. 

Encourage new members to volunteer 

Dive in, headfirst! 

Immediate Engagement: Prompt new members to get involved by volunteering. This can range from organizing events, contributing to publications, or assisting in community outreach. 

Skill-Building: Volunteering isn’t just about giving back. It’s a platform for members to hone their leadership, communication, and team dynamics. It’s experiential learning at its best. 

Fostering Relationships: As new members collaborate with others, they form bonds, understand the organization’s ethos, and become integral parts of the community faster. 

Invite new members to a virtual networking event 

In an increasingly digital world, forming connections has evolved but remains just as vital. 

Purposeful Connections: For many, the allure of joining an organization lies in connecting with peers, mentors, or experts in their field. Offering virtual networking events is an effective way to facilitate these interactions, especially for those who may be geographically distant or prefer online engagements. 

Meeting of Minds: Host a virtual networking event specifically tailored for new members. This provides them a platform to introduce themselves, discuss their goals, and start building relationships that can aid their personal and professional growth. 

Follow up with new members after orientation 

Orientation might have ended, but your engagement with new members shouldn’t. 

Continuous Engagement: It’s essential to check in periodically with new members post-orientation. This not only reiterates the organization’s commitment to them but also ensures they are well-acclimated and integrated into the community. 

Feedback and Support: Use these follow-up sessions as an opportunity to gather feedback, address concerns, and offer resources or support. A member who feels heard and supported is more likely to remain engaged and active. 

Retaining your new members 

Orientation is a significant first step, but the journey of member engagement extends beyond new member orientation. At the heart of successful member retention is consistent, meaningful engagement. It’s about understanding each member’s unique goals, needs, and aspirations and offering tailored opportunities to meet those. 

If you are looking to enhance your strategy, our Membership Retention eCourse equips you with effective ideas and strategies, from evaluating your current renewal process to a 12-month retention planning template.  

But remember, communication is key. Personalized, regular communication shows members that they’re valued and keeps them informed about upcoming opportunities, events, and changes. Your members are the heart and soul of your organization. Invest in them, engage with them, and watch your community thrive. 

Check out our curated list of resources available for further reading: 

Free Member Retention Guide

Ready to retain members and keep them coming back forever and ever? This guide will teach you everything you need to know about member retention. We cover all the basics, like the first steps to member retention and how to map out your member journey. From there, we dive a bit deeper into retention tips.