How to Build Community in Your Association 


July 19, 2023

Community is a powerful tool amongst associations. It's used to describe everything from the local chapter meetings to online forums and social media groups. It's the reason people join and stay in your organization. It's why they're willing to pay membership dues year after year. But how do you build an effective community? Let's take a look at some of the most important aspects of a strong community and how they can be used to grow your association. 

Benefits of community within an association 

Community is an effective way to engage members and promote growth. Association communities can serve as virtual meeting grounds where your members share ideas and discuss relevant topics with others who face similar challenges. Let's break it down a little further.  

  • Builds brand affinity. Members are often eager to engage in conversations about their interests. Your association can use community platforms to get more people talking about what's important to them. This will help you build a stronger sense of community around your brand, which can increase member satisfaction and retention rates, while also increasing reach through referrals and advocacy campaigns. 
  • Increases membership revenue. By hosting events, online courses, or other products/services offered, you can increase revenue that will later be used to further benefit members. In addition to supplying access to valuable resources, many communities also offer paid services like mentor programs that provide personalized support for members looking for help in their professional lives. 
  • Helps find new members. Strong communities are great for helping you attract people who may not have considered joining your organization or volunteering before. They can be an important part of a larger marketing strategy that includes other tactics like email marketing and social media outreach.  
  • Offers feedback. Those who want to give back but can't offer a lot of their time or energy can still provide input. This is especially helpful for associations that are looking to make changes within their organizations or simply learn more about what it is that people would be interested in joining an association for. 
  • Provides inspiration. Community creates a space for you and others to promote your local events. If you have an event coming up, or if there's something happening in your area that interests association members, bring it up in the forum! Your members are likely to be interested in attending these kinds of activities – and they might even offer suggestions on how to make them better. 

How to build community in an association  

The purpose of any community is to help people connect with one another. You want your members to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions with each other, as well as learn from each other’s experiences. To offer this kind of an experience for members, start with these 5 steps: 

  1. Create a forum. This can be as simple as creating an account on your association management system, which will likely have a built-in forum feature. Alternatively, you could use a third-party tool to manage your community because they can provide more options for customization and privacy controls. Communities can be on social media platforms as well, like Facebook or LinkedIn. Do some research on which choice works best for your association.  
  2. Establish community rules. This can include guidelines for posting and commenting as well as how members should treat each other. In order to make the forum more accessible and relevant to your membership, consider creating a calendar of events for the association and in their area. 
  3. Spread the word. Make sure your members know about these opportunities for community within your association. You can do this in an email or newsletter, or by posting a message on your website or on a forum.  
  4. Start the conversation. Curate discussion topics and post them in the forum or bring them up at meetings to get the conversation going. This will help to establish the community as a place that people visit often and keep coming back to. It’s also important to make sure that you are regularly posting in the forum so that members feel like they have an open line of communication with you. You will also want to ask for volunteers who will help moderate the forum and make sure conversations are going smoothly.  
  5. Provide direction. Make sure that the forum and discussions have a clear purpose. You should have a specific goal in mind before you create something, and make sure that all of your members know what that goal is. This will help them to understand how they fit into the forum and what they can contribute.  



The goal of building a community should be to create a space for members to discuss topics that are of interest to them. This can mean anything from sharing stories and professional advice to discussing current events or debating the latest advocacy efforts. The key is to make sure that everyone feels welcome and accepted. 


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