Creating an Exceptional Member (Volunteer) Experience


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How can we draw members in and engage them deeply in the mission? This presentation for AMA Alliance looks at the triggers for engagement, explore the engagement continuum and offers a few action steps.

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  • Rule of thumb*: 1/3 currently engaged (that means even on a 1-up task), 1/3 recently, 1/3 uninvolved

    Interesting that this is a metric rarely measured. Research** – where members reported their activity – indicates 14.6% assn members involved in governance while another 15.5% in an ad hoc role

    *Source: 10 Lessons for Cultivating Member Commitment, ASAE 2012
    ** Source: Decision To Volunteer, ASAE 2008
  • Why important? Drives growth!

    Performing one simple task for the association moves perception of the assn value up substantially – from 38% to 44% on NPS scale (Source: 10 Lessons, ASAE 2012)

    15% of dropped members cited lack of involvement, only budget cuts was cited more often at 18% (Source: Marketing General Inc 2013 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report)

    BETTER ENGAGEMENT MEANS BETTER RENEWALS according to MGI Research shows that in the past year members who
    …upgraded their membership to a higher level of service were 12% more likely to renew
    …ordered a product in the past year were 28% more likely to renew
    …were also chapter members were 17% more likely to renew
    …attended an association meeting in the past year were 19% more likely to renew
    …attended four or more meetings were 30% more likely to renew
  • We came to understand that plugging-in includes a lot of what we much call “volunteering” but then DTV told us that the V word could be a barrier …

    Looking for meaning – more than access to knowledge base or discounts
  • Not look for commitment – long-term, hand cuffs

    Handcuffs (those multi-year, big jobs)
  • Here’s the problem – the old model doesn’t fit!

    • It limits opportunities for involvement.
    • It ignores the reality of generational differences.
    • It handcuffs organizational decision-making.
  • The NEW definition of volunteer is giving one’s time and talent to drive mission.

    This new definition draws on two intrinsic motivations to volunteer, with the focus on the outcomes of volunteering and the functions needed to drive those outcomes. This turns the image of volunteering, which traditionally starts with a Board and trickles down or begins with the job title and then the description, upside down.

    What’s in between? Member Citizenship.
    It’s the new volunteerism. It’s called by many building member community. [Wordle]
  • And it’s based on a continuum of engagement …
  • And it’s based on a continuum of engagement …
  • WHEN

    Getting involved is cyclical … tied to family & professional stages

    This is important to note … the magic age is 30 – Gen Xers early 30s – mid 40s

    Why, perhaps:
    Settled down a it
    Clarified their career intentions
    Come to understand how and the importance of fueling requirements for that

    Source: ASAE, 10 Lessons, 2012; Generations & The Future of Association Participation, William E. Smith Institute for Association research (2006) based on Social Capital & Community Benchmark Study, 2000 and Syracuse University similar study, 2004
  • WHY

    Motivation – and it may surprise you.
    Motivation –driven by dual needs; centers on what make associations

    2011/2006: benefits to field 3.6 vs. personal benefits 3.4
  • Pro-social …
    Sell the need to care about the good of the profession
  • Sharpen the personal … nicely balance package

    Top 5 Drivers for Volunteering (ASAE, Decision To Volunteer) – are largely outward-facing!

    1. It’s important to help others
    2. Do something for profession/cause important to me
    3. Feel compassion for others
    4. Gain new perspectives
    5. Explore my own strengths
  • Associating! Railroads not in biz of trains but transportation; associations not in the biz of products but in community:

    1) Market the chapter as a community of peers
    2) Do everything you can to involve new members


    #1: Time & Flexibility

    Time = both in terms of how much and when
    Flexibility = where, how
  • Think short-term, easy to complete tasks
    Maybe reoccurring but not long-term
  • Top 5 reasons for not volunteering (ASAE, Decision To Volunteer) include the critical lack of ad-hoc oppty!

    1. Lack of Information about Opportunities to Volunteer
    2. Conflict with other volunteering activity
    3. Never asked to volunteer
    4. Lack of information about virtual volunteering
    5. Lack of information about short-term assignments
  • Be Flexible: Focus on “Associating”
    Embrace micro-volunteering – ad-hoc jobs, job-sharing, shorter terms … ISES DC, PRSAMD, ONS, AADE
    Harness technology to engage members & streamline the volunteer job … online portals, Google docs, web-meetings, online forms/polling/collaboration
    Create volunteer portals so its easy to find options & sign-up

    #2: work styles are different
  • 4 Unique Mindsets

    Radio Babies – born prior to 1927: what’s my assignment?
    TV Babies – born ‘46-’64 aka boomers: we need to change the world – let’s meet
    Computer Babies – born ‘65-’81 aka GenX: We need to act
    Digital Babies – born after ’81: let’s text and meet-up
  • Focus on mission!
  • Management is about doing things right — dotting the I’s, crossing the T’s, giving reviews, doing all the H.R. stuff. But leadership is about doing the right thing. And it’s very different.
    Tim Bucher, founder and C.E.O. of, a wine site (also with Dell, Microsoft and Apple)
  • Package involvement …
  • Be open to involving when they are ready
  • How do you make this happen? Let’s look first at what engagement is and then at three steps to engaging members.
  • Let’s pause before we leap into the rest of the day…
  • For more information, explanations or questions, contact Peggy M. Hoffman, CAE * 301.725.2508 * Twitter: @peggyhoffman

    Also visit the blog at
  • Creating an Exceptional Member (Volunteer) Experience

    1. 1. Creating an Exceptional Member Experience Building Your Member (Volunteer) Tribe
    2. 2. What percentage of your members engage in your alliance?
    3. 3. CONSUMING (viewing, reading, attending) PROMOTING (liking, sharing, recommending) CREATING (contributing, commenting, survey respondent) SERVING (volunteer in non-governing role) GOVERNING (volunteer in a leadership role)
    4. 4. CONSUMING (viewing, reading, attending) PROMOTING (liking, sharing, recommending) CREATING (contributing, commenting, survey respondent) SERVING (volunteer in non-governing role) GOVERNING (volunteer in a leadership role)
    5. 5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45
    6. 6. Active Members are Pro-Social
    7. 7. It’s about the cause, the people … and me
    8. 8. We’re in the business of Associating
    9. 9. prefer ad hoc or episodic volunteering
    10. 10. prefer short terms not “jail terms”
    11. 11. Embrace micro-volunteering and harness technology
    12. 12. We think differently, work differently, speak differently … on our way to the same place
    13. 13. Switch from giving direction to defining the goal
    14. 14. Switch from giving direction to defining the goal
    15. 15. Open to new structures, new formats
    16. 16. 1. Answer 2. Person 3. Purpose
    17. 17. 1.Person 2.Activity 3.Resource
    18. 18. Peggy M. Hoffman, CAE Mariner Management & Marketing 301.725.2508 Connect with me on-line: Twitter: @peggyhoffman LinkedIn: pmhoffman