Even the best engagement plan fails without the proper backing and follow through. In fact, the number one reason engagement plans aren’t successful is the lack of team commitment to execute the required initiatives. If you are looking to engage more members and improve member retention, then you’ve probably considered putting a member engagement plan in place. Don’t let your engagement goals languish before they even get started. Here is a step-by-step guide to establish a member engagement team and help rally them around your cause:
Gather your stakeholders: Who are the folks most invested in gaining and keeping members at your organization? Who is in charge of membership, marketing and recruitment of members? Stakeholders need a leadership team member that can champion the cause for member engagement at your organization. Ideally, stakeholders include representatives from:
- The frontline
- Your volunteer base
Keep in mind your Member Engagement Team may only involve some of these representatives, but they need to be aware that they are responsible for driving member engagement initiatives. Gathering all stakeholders on the front end ensures proper communication later in the process. The Member Engagement Team will be responsible for keeping all the teams they represent in the loop while driving member engagement initiatives forward. Learn more about Engagement Team Roles in this Engagement Team Fact Sheet.
Take time to establish your goals and objectives. Being specific about your goals helps measure success and stay on track. Are you trying to retain members, gain members, or connect your members to your mission? We all want to achieve these items but it helps to nail down one or two things that will lead to these outcomes and make the most impact with a quick win. By creating one goal and attaching a measurement to it you are creating clarity for your staff by defining priorities.
Establish a baseline and a way to measure progress. Once you have a goal in mind it is important to measure your success. By establishing a benchmark from your current status, you can measure your success incrementally based on when you want to achieve your goals.
For example, the team at the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast had a goal to engage more members by having quality in-person conversations. They decided to focus on increasing in-person conversations as a percentage of total check ins. They established a baseline that their staff was having meaningful conversations with 3% of check ins. They wanted to more than double their quality conversations to 7% of check ins. By creating a clear goal and maintaining a laser-focus on one metric, the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast achieved dramatic improvement to 7,000 monthly in-person conversations across their organization!
Once goals are set, everyone at the organization needs to be very clear on when and how they will be measured. Setting attainable goals at the beginning gives a firm foundation for growth and expanded achievement plans. For example, for the first three months an organization will work to reach 5% of all check ins with a quality in-person conversation. Once that is reached, up it to 7%.
Assign Tasks. Once you meet with the team to discuss overarching goals and define first steps, you must assign tasks. This is where each representative may consider involving other team mates. Break down your one measurable up-front goal into specific steps. If your goal, like the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast, is to have more in-person conversations and to monitor the quality of those conversations, you are going to need to establish the following processes:
- Create a tool to establish a baseline (this could be as simple as an excel spreadsheet)
- Train all member-facing staff to track their interactions
- Set interaction goals per staff member and review the interactions and tally the results
- Monitor those results
Once you have your tasks, assign them to your team as appropriate.
Rally the team. Get your team invested in the results and be sure to check in regularly to prevent or work through any roadblocks. Member engagement initiatives must be supported and encouraged from the top down. Senior leaders are responsible for setting the tone for the organization and defining goals with achievable expectations. Without that, engagement rarely makes it out of the leadership level. Other ways to rally the team include coaching for staff that are struggling with engagement goals and applauding staff when they meet or exceed goals.
Have you started engagement initiatives at your organization? How did you assemble your team? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.