Events are one of the main opportunities for associations to showcase the benefits of membership. They are also a great avenue to connect with colleagues face to face and for your dedicated volunteers to receive appreciation for their hard work throughout the year. In order to be successful, it is essential that your events take into account member needs, whether through professional development credits or networking opportunities. Here are five suggestions for ensuring you meet the diverse needs of your membership.
1. Ask them what they want
It’s really as simple as that. Distribute surveys to members either by email or in person at events. Ask them for their preference on format, time and day of the week. Request speaker and topic suggestions and ensure this feedback is provided to event committee volunteers for consideration. Surveys can provide very useful information, allowing you to change current practices and add new features to your event repertoire to keep members happy.
2. Focus on event accessibility
Particularly for province-wide associations, deciding on venue locations for events can be very challenging. Even if you have many members located in downtown Vancouver, it is important that you do not neglect members located in the Fraser Valley or in Richmond, for example. In order to demonstrate awareness of your diverse membership, try to alternate between a few locations, informing members why you have made this decision. They will appreciate your efforts to make events accessible for everyone. Close proximity to affordable parking as well as transit stations are also important factors to keep in mind when selecting a venue.
3. Utilize volunteers
If you have limited resources for staff, it is essential that you call on other members to volunteer their time. Event planning can be a daunting process and will go a lot faster if you can delegate tasks among a few people. It also gives new members an opportunity to get involved and learn about the association, while engaging with board members. This is both a simple and helpful way to retain members!
4. Make sure there is something for everyone
For large associations, you likely have a very diverse membership made up of professionals with varying levels of experience and areas of specialization. Sometimes you simply cannot please everyone at the same time. So on top of regular events, it is a great idea to hold smaller sessions throughout the year that target specific segments of your membership. For example, senior practitioners may want to hear about more advanced topics from specialized professionals, whereas new members may want to hear from senior members about how to build their practice. By offering a mix of sessions, you will truly demonstrate your commitment to member needs.
5. Recognize the new and the old
Events provide the perfect opportunity to recognize long-standing members for their dedication to the association and their profession. Make sure you utilize these occasions to acknowledge these individuals in front of their fellow colleagues. On the same note, recognize new members who are present in the audience and even invite them to sit with the board of directors to learn more about the association. These little touches can really go a long way in showing your appreciation.