Membership Engagement is Vital for Your Organisation, Here’s Why


An image of 2 men drinking coffee and having a chat at Membership Excellence 2016

Member engagement is key to taking your membership organisation further in 2016. A focus on engagement means shifting from rapid recruitment practices towards building deeper relationships with existing members. My colleague Carleen and I talked with engagement experts at Membership Excellence 2016, a conference by MemberWise. We want to share our key takeaways on membership engagement with you.

Watch our video for a quick overview, and read on for more in-depth advice.


What is Membership Engagement?

Membership engagement is a concept considered fluffy at times, but experts disagree. Paul James, Membership Engagement Manager at the Association of Accounting Technicians, explained the concept well. Paul said that member engagement is “an interaction which has a positive outcome for both the membership organisation and the member”. The positive outcome for the organisation is that the interaction encourages a desired action. For the member the positive outcome links with the intangible value of being part of a membership organisation, for example an increased feeling of belonging.

Your desired actions should come from your strategic plan, and can be for example membership renewal and event attendance. Members are more likely to take desired actions if you provide them with value. To do this you need to embrace personalisation in your offering. Engagement is all about building relationships with individuals – it can’t be achieved through impersonal mass-communication.

Audience of membership professionals at Membership Excellence 2016

It’s all about Member Relations

Membership engagement is not a one-off activity. It needs to build over time. The Royal College of Physicians gave a great presentation on how to put member engagement at the heart of your organisation. Laura Fleming, Head of Membership, emphasised that you need to keep your eye on the member relationship. The core of this relationship is that members need to feel cared for by being valued, motivated, and supported. This is a journey involving both functional and emotional aspects unique to each member.

Steve Barraclough, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors, agrees with Laura. Steve says “the more individually you treat people, the greater return you are likely to see”. Taking the time to build member relationships gives results.

Exhibition at Membership Excellence 2016

Member Engagement Gives Results

Sue Froggatt, independent consultant, put it well by saying “It is a no brainer for me that engagement is more important than recruitment. You have no better recruiter than a happy member”. We agree – a recruitment push might give you a lot of new members in the short-term, but if you don’t engage them they are likely to cancel sooner.

Growth might be slower to start with when you focus on improving member engagement by creating value for individual members, but it will be sustainable and speed up in the long run. As Sue says: “Happy members are your greatest recruiters and unhappy members your fiercest critics”.  

What were your key takeaways from Membership Excellence 2016? How are you going to engage with your members this year? Let us know by commenting below. 

We are proud to be a MemberWise recognised supplier. Learn about our membership management software here. 

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