Member Appreciation: Two Words Go a Long Way


It would be easy to sit here and preach to you about the importance of recognizing your organization’s members “now more than ever” in the midst of a pandemic, civil unrest and wild politics, but the truth of the matter is a lot more blunt. Simply put, if you haven’t been focused on showing member appreciation before the mad mad world we live in today, then you’re already WAY behind the 8-ball.

The fact of the matter is a lot of people feel like their job is a thankless one these days. Working long hours; taking on more duties in light of recent layoffs; trying to be productive in makeshift home offices; wondering if they’ll ever get back to being just working, supportive parents again, or if they’ll have continue their role as working supportive parents who are also responsible for the daily education of their children.

To say these are difficult, unprecedented times is a massive understatement. That’s why you should consider taking this opportunity to show gratitude to your organization’s dedicated, loyal members who rely on your support to remain successful in their respective fields. It’s the least you can do to say “thank you,” and you’d be surprised at how far that will get you.

Now, with in-person events limited on an epic scale, gone are the days of an elaborate member appreciation dinner or awards ceremony to recognize the five, 10 or 20-year tenure of your organization’s members. So, what are some of the best ways to show your members genuine appreciation during a global pandemic?

Let me break it down based on the time you’ll need to invest (because, let’s face it … you’re swamped, too):

Highlight Member Anniversaries in Your Weekly Email Newsletter

This is as simple as it sounds. If you’re already producing a weekly email newsletter that goes to your entire membership (which you should), why not add a section called “Membership Spotlight” and highlight member anniversaries or achievements each week?

All you have to do is run a report of member join dates each week, copy the names from the list, send those to your editor to place in your newsletter, and BAM — just like that, you have a special shout out that’ll be seen by your members as well as their colleagues and peers.

Send Personalized ‘Thank You’ Emails

We have all heard a simple thank you goes a long way. Well, it’s true, and it can go even farther when you place it in a personalized email to your members.

For this idea, all you have to do is create a standardized email thanking members for their contributions to the industry as well as their continued dedication to your organization. This doesn’t have to be a long email — in fact, it shouldn’t be. Remember, no one has a lot of time to spare, so make the email short, sweet and to the point.

The next step is to automate these emails where they hit 90 days out from a member’s renewal date. Not only does this show them you care, but it also reminds them it’s almost time to renew.

Plus, it opens the door for a conversation. If they’re feeling unheard, underappreciated or feel like their dues aren’t getting them as much as they used to, a member appreciation email gives you the opportunity to possibly retain some members who may otherwise be on the fence.

Utilize Social Media To Spotlight Member Achievements and Anniversaries

In a world of instant gratification and overinflated egos, who doesn’t like having their name splashed across Facebook or LinkedIn for friends and peers to see (assuming it’s for the right reason)?

No matter where someone stands on the debate of whether or not social media is good for our souls, it’s hard not to feel a small sense of pride when you’re tagged in an announcement touting how wonderful you are.

So, be sure to work in at least a weekly post sharing one of the following about your members:

  • Anniversary dates or birthdays (best to group these so no one feels left out)
  • Professional achievement stories (makes your member and your organization look good)
  • Impressive or impactful member posts (a quick share of an already posted status is super easy)
  • Board member highlights (makes your board members feel seen and keeps them engaged, and subtly touts what your organization is doing behind the scenes)

Gifts: Traditional and/or Digital

Believe it or not, thank you gifts are still a thing. What better way to make someone feel appreciated than by giving them something unexpected (and free!)?

Depending on your budget and time constraints, you can choose to go the traditional route or opt for a more digital approach.

Anniversary plaques, framed pictures or even printed certificates make great thank you gifts as they can easily be hung in offices for others to see, thus extending the value of the gift and the message behind it.

However, digital tokens of appreciation can also go the distance. Whether it’s a digital gift card to a big chain store or local restaurant, a free registration at one of your organization’s upcoming virtual events, or a discounted membership renewal rate, digital gifts keep on giving.

Whichever of these tactics you decide to deploy to show your organization’s appreciation for its members, be sure to inject a sense of sincerity into each gesture, for without your members, where would your organization be?

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