Engagement—what does it really mean? Why is it important? How does it apply to my organization? In the association industry, leaders often think that because members are paying their monthly dues on time or registering for an annual conference or governing a board of members, they’re actively involved and engaged—but could they be doing more?
What is Engagement?
Understanding why, how, and to what degree a member engages with their association can make all the difference when it comes to growing a thriving non-profit. Engagement is the central focus of what associations are all about. Recognized as an elusive, abstract term, it implies the relationship between an association and its members and the mutual exchange of value. And although member engagement is often thought to be unquantifiable, realizing these measurements are imperative and valuable to an organization is the first step.
Why is Engagement Important?
Unlike other static figures such as revenue or member count, association leaders often fail to identify the importance of measuring this qualitative metric and often miss out on something that can provide so much insight into how an organization functions and the value it creates. Engagement is something that’s been talked about for a long time in the association industry—albeit by evolving names—and is all about bringing people in by ways that matter to them and matter to the organization as a whole. Engagement is key to an association’s success as it ultimately drives growth in areas like membership, events, volunteerism, support and much more while it relates to the creation of value for its members; it is this value that drives a stronger community and creates an enhanced experience for everybody.
How Can I Apply Engagement to My Organization?
When it comes to engagement scoring, people must recognize that as a fluid measurement, desired behaviors may vary from one organization to another and also within the same organization over a period of time. As organizations go through different phases in their lifecycles, the needs and strategic goals may change depending on what’s most important at some point in time. For example, although member engagement scoring typically applies to member-based associations whose success primarily relies on engagement, it can be applied to all types of organizations that have goals set in place. Or, at one phase, social media growth may be the most important goal and during another phase, the most important objective might be to increase conference attendance.
Whatever the goal may be, it is critical to understand and compare how your organization performs over time and relative to past phases. Also, the right types of tools give you the ability to analyze patterns that may have influenced your scores at these given times. Depending on the nature of your membership, you may uncover interesting facts about how you engage members based on different criteria such as geographic location, age, years in profession, and organization size. With this information, you can tell when and if things are getting better or worse over time based on shifting goals and use this analysis to predict future engagement patterns. All in all, it is most important that the engagement you’re measuring is effectively aligning with your company’s strategy as this is the foundation to determining whether or not the engagement is of value to you and your members.
Aptify is an association management software solutions company focused on propelling success of member-based organizations and non-profits. With over 21 years in the industry, Aptify knows the ins-and-outs of how associations function and furthering their individual missions. To answer to the need of scoring member engagement in associations, Aptify pioneered the creation of the Composite Engagement Score—a unique tool that accommodates a variety of inputs that drive the aggregate score that is flexible enough to account for evolving changes over time. To read more about how you can score member engagement using the CES methodology, check out our library of free resources at www.aptify.com/CES.
This blog post was presented by Chelsea Haynes, Marketing Communications Coordinator at Aptify.