- Look at measurable data – Hoyt’s first tip is to take a hard look at your data and ask yourself, “Where are we today? Where do we want to be and why is it important? Most people understand the value of having a broader membership base and retaining members is a lot easier than recruiting new members.”
- Break down retention goals – “If you are looking at retaining 1%, 2% or 3% more members, how many members is that? Once you have that figured out you can start tying those numbers to financial benefits,” explains Hoyt. All those things help justify engagement initiatives to the leadership team.
- Take it back to the mission – “Many people are surprised when you take those membership goals and connect it to the increase in number of lives you can touch every day,” says Hoyt.
In most corporations, senior leaders are the visible face of the organization. But, that isn’t always the case for members at health and wellness associations. Many times the only contact members of those facilities have is with front-line and wellness staff. That’s why it is vital that senior leaders take the time to define and champion the engagement strategy throughout the organization.
Senior leaders and board members are charged with setting the strategic direction and cultural goals for most associations to steer non-profits in the right direction and achieve their vision. We’ve all heard that positive attitudes and actions are contagious and can build a culture of engagement that involves and inspires all employees. According to Dan Dummermuth, CEO at the YMCA of Middle Tennessee, “I think a lot of it is the sheer volume of people coming through our doors. What happens a lot of time on the engagement side of things is the capacity of the staff is tested. We already ask staff to do so much, and taking a systematic approach to engaging members is one more thing. So as leaders we have to take a hard look at that. If engagement is going to be a priority, if we really want to help people–and grow revenue by adding members and stem attrition by keeping members– we have to make engaging them a priority. Sometimes we may have people in the wrong roles, or lack adequate training to make engagement successful. So that’s something to evaluate too.”
3 Ways to Measure Staff Engagement
- Anonymous surveys – Be sure to stress that employees should be open with their feedback to allow real change to take place
- Team Huddles – Organizations with successful engagement strategies often huddles each day to share what was successful and what was not so successful with member engagement. This is also a great way for staff to keep an open line of communication with their team leads
- Be present – If leaders make a point to be visible and approachable it sets a tone for the whole organization. Making culture a focus is easier when senior leaders can be seen by everyone in the organization
Senior leaders are responsible for setting the tone for the organization and defining appropriate goals. Setting the tone for all interactions with all levels of staff helps set the tone with how your staff will engage with your members.
Earlier in the year we published a story about the Akron Area YMCA’s efforts to increase in-person engagement at their centers. We spoke with their Technology Director, Ken Hoyt, about his efforts to motivate staff to create good engagement habits.
Today we’re seeing a dramatic increase in the number of conversations that his staff is having with members but also an increase in the quality of conversations initiated and tracked. In fact, looking at the first half of May, the Akron Area Y is reporting 899 in-person conversations. This is more than double the 404 conversations that were tracked during the whole month of April.
Why is it important to track these conversations? This is the best way to get stories. The stories the staff at the Akron Y have logged range from basic:
“Since joining the Y ___ has tried to come every weekday. He really enjoys his new routine of working out before work.”
To the inspirational:
“___ just lost her husband 2 months ago. Trying to get back on her feet. Coming here has really helped her cope. She is interested in water aerobics for her bones and joints. She thinks she will try it next week.”
By having these conversations, the Akron Area Y is connecting with their members on a deeper level and they are logging these stories to help tell the Y story to those who don’t know or don’t understand it. These stories serve as a foundation for community outreach as well as donor and volunteer recruitment. The mission of youth development, healthy living and social responsibility is reflected in stories like these:
“[I] talked about her 11 year old using the fitness room because school will be out soon. I told her that if he is big enough to use the machines and goes through teen wellness that would be okay for the summer. We discussed making the teen wellness a one on one session with a wellness coach for several sessions. We also talked about camp and volunteering for day camp for the summer as an option for him to be involved in the Y…”
“I asked what his workout goal is and he said, ‘not to worry about his wife for an hour.’ He talked extensively about his wife and her medical condition. She is home now and resting.”
“Got to sit with ___ and her newest little princess who is 2 weeks old now. Said they were all doing very well. She is ready for a run and the doctor has permitted her to start back because she was so active throughout the pregnancy. She and the kids just came in to play with the other kids in CW today. The kids were missing their friends.”
You can set your staff up for success when capturing conversations with members. By tracking and recording these interactions you have the stories that support the Y mission, inspire staff, donors, and volunteers, and benchmark your engagement efforts with your members.
Daxko recently hosted an engagement webcast featuring Cassi McDowell, Engagement Specialist at the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati, and Christin Baker, Daxko Engage Adoption Specialist. We’re here sharing the top takeaways from the webcast, as well as resources to help you keep your new members engaged.
- 41% of attendees said that their own organizations had not established a culture of engagement but that it was coming soon
- 36% said the already had a culture of engagement and
- 22% said they did not have a culture of engagement
Now, on to our takeaways.
Utilize technology to create deeper connections.
The Cincinnati Y recently began using Daxko Engage to track member engagement. They used to write paper notes about new member interests, but these were difficult to keep track of. With Daxko Engage, staff have the ability to track member interests on member profile pages, allowing staff who engage with members to have a deeper, more targeted conversation.
Note: No matter what product or tool you use, you can it’s important to keep track of conversations with members to better understand their needs and goals. Non-Daxko Engage users could utilize a well-planned spreadsheet to track member goals.
Daxko Engage users also have the ability to create follow-up tasks for other staff members. For example, if a member mentioned an interest in youth soccer for their child, the staff can have the appropriate person follow-up and encourage them to register.
Create targeted initiatives to take new members on a journey.
The Cincinnati Y also utilizes Daxko Engage to execute a targeted new member program. McDowell explained that it’s like the new member is taking a journey with their Y. The Cincinnati Y’s program is six weeks and begins with a welcome email, then a phone call one week later, followed by several additional touch points. The last email is a mission email that explains the Y’s annual campaign. McDowell said the mission email at the end is an important step because it explains how the Y is different from other health and wellness organizations. “It’s so important to help members know and understand the Y’s nonprofit status,” McDowell explains. The mission email is informational and comes from a member of the development staff that can follow up with the member if necessary.
Don’t forget about other new member timeframes.
The YMCA of Greater Cincinnati experiences two busy new member seasons. The first happens as expected in January where people are rushing to join and set goals. McDowell’s branch has three pools and outdoor amenities galore so they experience an influx of new members for the summer season. These memberships, she explained, have less of a rushed feeling to them. These members join to experience their Y for the summer but they may stay all year if they become engaged. Think of all types of new members when creating new member initiatives. You may want to even think about adding a special touchpoint for different types of memberships.
The new member engagement efforts at the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati are paying off. The Powel Crosley Jr. branch (McDowell’s branch) has achieved a 4% increase in retention of family, adult, and young adult member units since launching Daxko Engage.
This webinar was part one of an ongoing thought leadership series: Establishing a Culture of Engagement. While Daxko will be hosting the series, the focus will be on highlighting progressive member-based nonprofits with the people, processes, and technology in place to better engage their members.