Strategy Sessions to Consider for Summer Review


Summer is a great time to get back to your board basics.

Hopefully, this summer you and your board are getting some time to unwind. The active chapter season can be quite chaotic. From education, to advocacy, and mentoring, your members and the community you support are grateful for all you’ve done to help ensure their success.

A bit of downtime is always good, but remember what happens to kids during the summer, when they’re out of school. Teachers call it Summer Slide. It happens to adults too. No matter the age, when we’re not keeping our brains active and engaged, we tend to forget things, and like students, it’s hard to get back on track in September.

Summer is a great time to review your past year’s accomplishments and understand where you can improve. Here are a few strategic areas you might want to consider in your summer review in addition to the organizational checklist that we’ve shared previously.

Board continuity. Changes to the board typically happen in the summer. Terms end and board members step down when they realize the fall may be too busy for them to do the job they need to do with all they have on their plate at work and home. Ask your board members for names. They should be considering who can step in when they step down. Expand your pipeline, so you’re not scrambling if someone steps down unexpectedly.

Job descriptions and transition plans are critical tools for those stepping into a role. If you have them in place, perfect. Review them to be sure they still represent the jobs appropriately. If you don’t have them, now is a great time to pull them together.

Membership structure. Does your structure meet the needs of your members and prospects? Review your benefit offerings, as well as things like length of membership, and expirations. Does anything need to shift to better fit your base?

Perhaps a tiered structure with different options for dues and benefits would be a better fit. Or maybe you could allow your members to select the benefits and dues that meets their needs and then base their dues on what they choose. A study by the Avenue M Group found that some organizations allowing members to create a customized collection of member benefits to match their needs and interests have doubled their membership.

College students and young professionals are two groups that could benefit from additional options; their disposable income is limited at this point in their lives/careers. Tiered memberships could bring them on board now, and they would have the chance to grow into experienced professionals and full-dues-paying members.

Finances. How are you doing fiscally? Where are you doing well, and where are you suffering?

Is it time to increase your dues and event pricing? Or does your bank account give you some pricing flexibility? Perhaps your membership levels can include free attendance to events, or you can give your volunteers discount attendance to events.

However, it’s not all about decreasing prices. If the cost for one of your offerings is too low, members may believe it won’t provide the value they expect, and they won’t attend. You may find that you can actually increase some of your pricing.

Special programming. This review should be in addition to the close out sessions you hold right after each of your events. Now is the time to evaluate the success of all your programming. How well are the events you hold meeting the needs of your members? Are you hearing from your young professionals that they’d like more opportunities to get together and network, with each other and with your more experienced members? Perhaps it’s time to consider starting a mentor program, where you can match young professional members with a seasoned mentor.

Once you adjust your plans for next year, you’re not done.

A yearly summer review is a great opportunity to catch what you may miss during a busy year. To continue to expand your membership base and engage your members, your organization must continue to anticipate change and adjust to meet the changing needs of your members.

Matching your offers to what your members and those you support value most will go a long way toward keeping them for the long-term.

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