|Many community organisations reach a point where they ask (or should be asking) this question – does our organisation have a future? Before adopting a negative or defensive attitude to that question it is worth reflecting on some fundamentals:|
- Would a name-change or a re-focussing of our activities attract new members?
- What do we really know about:
- Our potential and existing members?
- What keeps existing members interested?
- How to engage our members?
- What might attract new members?
The world has changed, and will continue to change
In reality, much has changed in the last century – for instance:
|Early 20th century family:|
|Early 21st century family:|
- People will not necessarily give their time (or have time) for traditional voluntary activities, and
- Those who have been leaders in community organisations (baby boomers) are retiring
Issues to consider:
- Are new members joining?
- Are new members leaving after a year or two?
- Are member resignations/deaths increasing?
- Are you struggling to get people to your activities and events?
- Are you battling to recruit quality volunteers?
- Are you having trouble gaining or retaining sponsors?
- Is the average age of your committee members greater than 50?
- Are other organisations or activities competing for your potential and existing members’ engagement?
Referring to a “generation” used to be a helpful indicator of likely behaviour – but no longer:
- 1926 – 1945 Silent Generation
- 1946 – 1964 Baby Boomers
- 1965 – 1980 Gen X
- 1981 – 1994 Gen Y/ Millennials
- 1995 – 2010 Gen Z
- 2010 – Gen Alpha
Reference to a “generation” is now a less useful indicator of likely behaviour because:
Patterns of work have changed (working hours, use of technology, both partners working, people holding down more than one job, etc),
- Young families carrying more debt (student loans, housing etc),
- Grandparents are commonly busier with grandchildren, and
- There is a broader range of leisure activities available, at home and away.
The generational, career and family lifecycles have also all changed:
Child 1 – 5 years
Primary student 5 – 12 years
Secondary student 13 – 18 years
Graduate 18 – 21 years Student loans
Career started 18 – 25 years Marrying
Career builder 25 – 40 years Young children
Consolidator 45 – ~60 years Children less dependent
Pre-retirement 60 – ~65 years
Retired ??? years Grandparent duties
Do we need to change our thinking?
Membership is a choice, and then an investment, NOT a donation
Community organisations need to:
- Arouse the interest of potential and existing members,
- Market themselves – every member is a marketer,
- Deliver value by making a meaningful contribution to the lives of members,
- Find out what keeps their members interested and involved, and
- Then, satisfy those needs or desires.
- An organisation that does not satisfy the needs or desires of its existing members does not deserve to exist, and
- An organisation that does not satisfy the needs or desires of its potential and existing members will wither and die.
Efficient organisational processes maximise opportunities:
|Membership recruitment is not why members belong to an organisation, BUT all members should “recruit” new members.|
Potential members and new members:
- Often don’t know what your organisation does, and
- Cannot be expected to know unless you tell them clearly
Perception is reality – What potential and new members perceive is very often different from reality.
A challenge – Can your organisation’s purposes be briefly and accurately stated (a brief “mission statement” for use in publicity and membership material).
Potential members and new members
|You need to:
|To do this, you need to provide:
Great Activities and Events are Essential
- Activity and event venues, formats, frequency, duration, and content,
- Engagement mechanisms for activities and events,
- Whether you are meeting the expectations of members with diverse cultural and ethnic experiences and expectations, and
- Reassess whether activities and events are relevant and engaging for newer and younger members.
Imperative for success – creating a strong member community
Organisations need to:
- Create an engaging, innovative and strong organisation/community – both online and offline,
- Become facilitators and enablers of communities, and
- Connect members in ways that will provide the member with meaningful, positive outcomes
Continuum of membership engagement