Sunday, October 25, 2009

Keeping busy association members active and interested

Quipped from an excellent article I found from the Education and Training Unit for Democracy and Development (a South African based non-profit) that deals with a challenge many associations face comes an interesting consideration: What are you doing as an organization to keep your members engaged and involved. Many professional associations face this challenge and the need to address this challenge becomes all the more relevant when your association relies on volunteer power, your members keep very busy schedules and even more so when membership in your professional association is not a regulated requirement.

Keeping members active

Many organisations lose members as fast as they recruit them. There are common problems we all have in keeping members involved and active. Here are some typical ones:

The organisation's meetings are long and boring
Members do little other than to listen to leaders talk
A small clique has all the power and does not encourage others to get involved
Members are not valued and are never thanked or praised for the work they do
Members feel useless or frustrated
The organisation has no projects that members can be involved in
Members feel that they are getting nothing out of the organisation.

People usually join an organisation because they want to do something for their community. But they also want something out of being a member. You should find out what motivates members and make sure you manage them so that they stay motivated and involved. Members are usually motivated by:

Feeling that they are valued by the organisation and making a contribution
Opportunities to learn new skills or get education about issues that interest them
Working on issues that will improve their lives or the lives of their families and communities
Feeling part of a team
Activities that entertain them or add to their social life
Rewards in terms of status, personal development or access to employment opportunities.
Here are some of the things you should do to keep members motivated and involved:

  1. Do an introductory induction workshop for all new members so that they understand the organisation and its work

  2. Welcome and introduce all new members at the beginning of each meeting

  3. Run regular education and development sessions for all members - either as part of regular meetings or in special workshops

  4. Encourage members to get involved in projects and campaigns

  5. Give people responsibilities and tasks and team them up with experienced members - they will feel useful and valued

  6. Thank people and praise them in meetings for work done

  7. Structure your meetings so that they are exciting and everyone gets a chance to participate

  8. Organise social events for members such as picnics, parties and outings

  9. Leaders should spend time talking with members and getting to know them

What are your thoughts and experiences?


Anonymous said...

Very thoughtfull post on Personal Development. It should be very much helpfull.

Karim - Positive thinking

Mark Buzan said...

Thanks for commenting Karim...I don't see the relation to keeping busy members active.

Carmelan said...

I hope you'll see the relevance to this article in my comment. My organisation has a wide diversity of members who I am certain have skills that we can use. Everything from graphic design, to telemarketing, to banking, to education, to history. Have you seen any member surveys that petition members, upon joining, on what skills they have and may be able to contribute to the organisation? Many thanks. Carmelan
Democrats Abroad Australia

Mark Buzan said...

Hi Carmelan,

Very relevant question! I can't say I have examples on hand however I can remember seeing a number of local NPOs utilizing this as a best practice. Overall, I think it's an EXCELLENT idea! First, it brings them into the organization right from the start and second, I would be willing to wager that you would find a higher degree of involvement if people are asked to contribute according to their natural skills and interests.

Hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the helpful information. Hope to hear more from you.
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