Why You Should Consider Including Philanthropy as a Membership Engagement Best Practice in the “New Normal”

Updated: Nov. 3, 2020  |  Categories: Low Engagement  

Why You Should Consider Including Philanthropy as a Membership Engagement Best Practice in the “New Normal”

At one time or another, most of your members will feel some stress. When you hear that an association member, you or one of your board members probably talk to the person one-on-one to see how to help. But what can you do when it seems your entire membership is significantly stressed, like what many are experiencing with the current COVID19 pandemic?

Do you continue operating as you have and figure things will get back to normal eventually? That could work, or maybe you could watch your chapter member retention decrease, as members begin to go elsewhere for support they need. 

What if you reacted to the stress of an entire chapter the same way you would if you were interacting with a single stressed member? When it’s just one person, you look for ways to express compassion and empathy and make things easier for that person. Multiply the reaction you get from helping one person by the number of members you have for an idea of what the response could be when you show your entire membership you understand.

Update your association member engagement strategy to include philanthropy

Philanthropy is often defined as “goodwill to fellow members of the human race.” Sometimes it includes giving money while other times it’s truly just making someone feel more comfortable in a situation.

Here are some ways to show you understand these times aren’t normal. You’ll show empathy with and compassion for your membership, while increasing the value you deliver to individual members, your chapter as a whole and the surrounding community during these times of added stress.

Get sponsors to provide in kind benefits to members. What do your sponsors offer that could benefit members and their local community? Maybe they have jobs to fill or could offer resume review and interview prep assistance, or printing. They may not ask for anything in return, but perhaps you can mention them in your newsletter or on your website, or give them a chance to present to your members.

Have an online area where members can connect with, share and learn. Do you have a chapter forum, for members to gather online to interact with other members, and maybe your sponsors, to find some of the support they need? Include options like a job board and a video library of helpful resources that members can easily access. Perhaps you have members who are experts in a specific industry area, and you could set up a chat for other members to get their specific questions answered.

Continue to support your local community. Before the pandemic moved most things online, your association chapter utilized many of the services offered by your local community, holding your meetings in a rented venue, catering food from a restaurant, using a printer, florist, etc. How can you continue to patronize those services? Make your membership and your sponsors aware of these vendors; post them in your forum and send a list out in email communications. Maybe your caterer is now offering home delivery, or your event planner is organizing socially distant, outdoor weddings?

Hold community fundraising events. Are there local organizations that could use financial support right now? Ask your members for their input and leads. Fundraising may seem tricky these days but there are some creative options. Have a local drive in? Sponsor a movie night, with a percent of ticket sales going to the organization you’re helping. Find a photographer to take socially distant pictures of families in their cars and donate the money from the sale of those photos.

It’s more important than ever to continue to deliver value with a dose of compassion and empathy to your members and the local community. Among other things, that support will be remembered by those you help, who may seek out your chapter when things improve and those relationships could turn into strategic partners and sponsorships.


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