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Tips for Developing Member Advocacy

Tips for Developing Member Advocacy Image

Are your members more focused on advancing your chapter or managing responsibilities at work and home? We’re pretty certain their personal and professional lives sit much higher on their To Do lists than sharing news about your chapter.

But they should be thinking about your chapter and talking about it. It’s not enough for your Board and your parent organization to advocate; your members are your best chance for visibility, when it comes to communicating your chapter’s importance to other members and the industry you support and turning guests into members.

What would you want members to talk about related to your organization? Is it your mission and vision and ability to move your industry forward? What it’s like to be a new member? All the great events and educational programs you offer?

Members can’t share if they don’t:

  • Know what you want them to share,
  • Know it’s ok to share, and/or
  • Have the tools to share easily.

 

Here are a few ideas to incorporate into your advocacy process, to improve you members’ ability and desire to share, increase engagement, and ultimately expand your effectiveness and your membership base.  

  1. Brainstorm. Include Board Members in your advocacy planning but also ask for insight from members. What would they want to hear as new members, long term members and/or guests, and how they would want to hear it? You may have always used newsletters and email marketing and your messages may still focus primarily on those things you’ve been communicating for years. That might work for your existing, longer-career members, or it might not, for them or for your millennials. Guests may have no interest in a weekly newsletter or the same email you send to 25 other people. To for the biggest response, hold brainstorming sessions at different times. And, to collect ideas from those who can’t attend meetings, consider a survey with space for write in responses.
  2. Have a Member of the Month program. Who characterizes what it is to be a member of your chapter? Are there volunteers you should spotlight? What about your new members? Ask new members why he or she joined and what non-members should know about the chapter. Include these as regular features on your website or in your newsletter, with photographs, quotes and engaging language. This “humanizing” puts a face to your organization and draws in your members and non-members.
  3. Encourage members to share. They may think your chapter is amazing, but if the places they work have strict no posting policies, they may assume the same applies to your chapter. Tell them it’s ok to share and give them ideas of what to share, like the member of the month feature. Ask them to share their experiences, things they’ve learned, events they’ve enjoyed, and what they got out of being a member. Consider developing content like white papers and webinars and have a library of content members can use and share.
  4. Make it easy. Even if they know it’s ok to share, they won’t if it’s difficult, even if they learned a lot at your last monthly meeting or felt empowered after your last leadership session. Add a “share” button to your website to make sharing simple. They should share their thoughts as well as your curated content with their connections; people love free stuff, so consider providing incentives, like raffles or decreased fees, for those who share content.

Most importantly, be sure your members know why it’s important to advocate for your chapter. It provides much more than new members. Advocacy is good for everyone – you’ll help them grow in their fields, and they’ll be better able to support themselves, other members, and the organization as a whole.  


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