Taking Member/Donor Engagement to the next level
I have a niece named Annabelle- she’s very advanced and is, naturally, an awesome kid. One of the things I love watching Annabelle do is meeting a new child. It’s pretty amazing for kids at that age. They have no fear at all, be it on a playground or in your child watch. If you have a program in your association that has young kids from ages 3-5, take a moment and observe the way that age group interacts.
They just go right up and say “Hi I’m Annabelle, wanna play?” Usually the other child wants to play and so they begin some kind of super fun activity. If only it was that easy to have our adult members interact and engage with one another. As adults it’s not that easy for us to walk up to a stranger and introduce ourselves.
Just think of the member connections that could be made if our members could introduce themselves to one another. Most members come in, go to their treadmill or bike and leave. This is why we as YMCA, JCC, or community center staff need to figure out ways to disrupt their isolation and help them engage with other members.
How can you prepare your facility to help engage?
I’ve gotten to know and play around in Daxko Engage and I’ve had a huge revelation, I had it wrong. As a membership director I was always looking at how my staff could engage more members. Front desk staff, wellness floor staff, group X instructors were all asked to connect with members. This is great and important but it’s nearly impossible. The ratio of members to staff doesn’t really work if you’re looking at moving members to a higher level of engagement. I’m introducing a concept I call Engagement 2.0.
This concept is connecting members to one another. It’s very easy using Daxko Engage to connect staff to members or the Y to members. They have all kinds of reminders about e-blasts, phone calls or mailers and that’s awesome. That’s helpful and can help move the needle but taking things to the next level is Engaging members to one another. Engage 2.0
How can we design our spaces, our programs, or events and member appreciation activities to help members connect to one another? Let’s use our seniors as a case study. They connect with one another, they sit and chat and visit. That’s why senior retention rates are usually higher than other membership categories. I think we can begin to figure out this engagement piece if we think about how we can help connect members to one another. So how do we do this? It’s going to take a village and that village is your staff! All staff- part time and full time staff- they need to be leaders on this quest.
Look at this also as a donor cultivation piece. The more members you have who are engaged the more likely they are to donate to the annual campaign. The highest level of member engagement is for them to be a donor.
Questions you can ask your staff to help brainstorm
- How can we be intentional about creating spaces for conversations? Think about how you can create a shared experience members can talk about.
- Group X class has this kind of connection built into it. If I go to a class I can talk with a stranger after class or before class about our shared experience of class. This gives me a way to connect with other members. This is why Group X instructors are critical to your YMCA, JCC, or community center. They build the best relationships! I have coworkers that remind me, not everyone goes to a Group X class.
- Member Challenges are a great way to connect members to one another. A member challenge would be “Do an Iron Man in a month” or “train for the local marathon”. Make this as public as possible- have the members sign up and put something that tracks their progress in an open space. This gives people the chance to share their progress and strike up a conversation with members about the challenge.
- Group volunteer activities are great ways to get people talking and connecting.
- What activities can we do that connect members?
- Family night is a great way to do this and it helps families spend time together with other families.
- Specific parent/child activities like “Mommy and me tea” or “Daddy Daughter dance”
- Is there a way to make some spaces more conducive for sitting and chatting?
- Some YMCAs don’t have a large lobby so this might prove to be difficult
- Ask the question, is there a creative way to make this space comfortable for sitting and gathering?
Imagine YMCA or JCC staff changing their thought processes around member engagement and encouraging front line staff to help connect members to one another. If you can imagine this, you will be able to see people move up the engagement line from low → medium → highly engaged.
This also helps YMCA or JCC staff not feel it’s their job to connect with every member that comes in, which can be daunting. Frame this in a way that makes them a catalyst for engagement and connectivity.
Your staff have great ideas on how to do this and I bet would love to spend time helping you brainstorm fun ways to make this happen. It’s a small adjustment to framing things but this kind of small thing can help move members!