Engage and retain your association’s members through community building

These four community-building strategies can help your association keep members engaged and ultimately make member loyalty stronger.

Your members are the heart of your association. It’s important to make them feel welcome and connected with your organization so that they feel engaged and keep renewing year after year.

That’s why community building is a vital aspect of any strong membership marketing plan. It’s an ideal way to help members feel a strong connection with your organization and ultimately strengthen member loyalty.

Let’s look at four effective community-building strategies to help you engage and retain members.

Four effective community-building strategies for associations

1. Make new members feel welcome.

Welcoming new members sets the tone for their relationship with your organization by engaging them right off the bat. If new members feel at home right away, they’re more likely to feel a part of your association’s community.

Here are some ideas for making new members feel welcome:

  • Send a series of welcome emails. Send new members a “thank you” email to make them feel appreciated. Then, send them a welcome email (or series of shorter emails) that lets them know how your organization works, what communications to expect from your association, and where they can go for information and resources.

TIP: Email campaign management functionality in YourMembership association management software (AMS) allows you to quickly and easily build email lists based on member information, and then create and send targeted email communications.

  • Pair up new members with a “buddy”. Connect new members with a volunteer ambassador in your online member community who can help to make them feel even more welcome and help them get to know your organization better.
  • Invite them to join in. Get new members involved by inviting them to connect with your organization and other members. For example, invite them to a group for new members in your online community. Be sure to ask someone on your staff and a highly involved member to join the group to keep discussions going and answer questions. Another idea: Include a footer in your onboarding emails that lets members know how to stay in contact with your organization, such as customer support contact information and social media icons.

TIP: YourMembership AMS includes functionality that makes it easy to build a thriving online member community.


2. Build community online.

Developing a community online is a great way to keep members connected while they’re on the go. Here are some ways to build a sense of community online:

  • Set up and grow an online member community. An online member community gives your members and prospective members a way to network with each other and share ideas. It’s also a great way to communicate with and engage members. You can make your online community a sort of town center for your association by posting important industry and association content, setting up discussion groups, and suggesting member connections based on similar needs and interests. The National Association of African Americans in Human Resources (NAAAHR) leveraged its built-in online community to keep all members informed in real-time. As soon as a member joins the association, they become part of the conversation.
  • Offer an online member directory. Provide your members with an online membership directory that allows them to easily search for other members in your association. Your members can use the directory to connect with others in your industry or profession and build relationships that can lead to mentorship opportunities, job leads, information sharing, and exchanges of ideas and advice. By offering this type of tool, you can encourage ongoing member engagement.

TIP: YourMembership makes it easy to set up an attractive and well-built online membership directory for your association.

  • Host virtual events. Virtual events offer a convenient way for members to engage with each other and your association between in-person events to keep them feeling part of your association’s community all year long. You can offer online conferences, webinars, career fairs, networking events, and more. You can even host a trendy “Ask me anything (AMA)” event within your online community that provides a great way to engage with your members all year long.


3. Facilitate in-person networking.

Face-to-face networking is a powerful way to keep members actively participating in your association’s community. As you plan your association’s in-person events, be sure to incorporate networking events that get attendees talking with each other. In addition to networking opportunities at your annual conference and other regular onsite events, consider hosting regional member meetups and workshops to facilitate networking among members and keep them feeling connected.

TIP: YourMembership AMS includes event management functionality to help you easily create, host, and manage your organization’s events. Using the mobile event app from YourMembership, you can keep attendees informed and engaged throughout your event.


4. Encourage peer-to-peer support.

When members start connecting with and helping each other, community building takes on a life of its own. You can encourage members to support each other in multiple ways, including:

  • Offering volunteer opportunities that allow members to volunteer to do things like start important conversations in your online community or write a helpful content piece that you can share with other members
  • Setting up discussion groups in your online community for your committees so that they can easily share updates and connect with others in the group
  • Setting up discussion groups in your online community when there is an important and/or timely issue facing your industry or profession so that members can connect with each other to discuss the issue and share helpful ideas and insights


Learn more membership marketing tips for your association

Community building is just one aspect of successful association marketing. Discover more tips and insights in the guide, Top 10 Greatest Hits for Membership Marketing.

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