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How to Host a Virtual Member Appreciation Week in 5 Simple Steps

Tatiana Morand  22 May 2020  0 comments
 

member appreciation week

A couple of months ago, my manager told me how much he appreciated my hard work on a particular project.

He wrote me a little note, and sent me a Starbucks card, just to say thanks. Based on the fact that I’m writing this now, you can tell that moment stuck with me.

I felt appreciated, and I was happy that he recognized how hard I had been working.

Now, does this story sound like something you've been doing lately?

If not, it might be time to say thank you to your members.

For membership organizations, showing appreciation is key. Members who feel valued and appreciated are not only more likely to be engaged, they will also recommend your organization to colleagues and friends and consistently renew their membership.

 

Plus, considering the current state of disruption in everyone’s lives, it’s more important than ever to create moments of joy where you can.

 

So, how can you do that for your members?

 

(Other than handing out Starbucks cards willy-nilly, of course.)

 

One tactic that I’ve seen be quite successful amongst membership organizations we work with is hosting a virtual member appreciation week. 

 

Even if you can’t meet up in person, you can host activities and run contests online so that members can continue to feel appreciated — and in this post, I’ll show you how to do so step-by-step. 

 

And even if you don’t have the capacity to run a whole week of activities right now, I’ll share six more ways you can show members your appreciation (which may or may not include Starbucks…).  

 

Ready? Let’s dive in! 

 

How to Host a Virtual Member Appreciation Week 

Step 1: Choose Your Activities

First things first, put together a budget. That will help you determine the types of activities you can host.

 

(And if the answer is “none”, that’s totally okay too! There are a lot of ideas in this list that don’t require any budget.) 

 

When deciding which activities to implement, think about activities that will be valuable to your particular membership. 

 

For example, professional development association members might appreciate advice on how to take headshots at home or virtual networking events, while educational association members might value discounts on a course or a free webinar. Pickleball club members might want discounts at your local sports store, and business owner association members would love complimentary design services or marketing training.

 

At the end of the day, though, you know your members best. Just think about why they joined your organization, and how you can give them additional value — that's the best way to show appreciation! 

 

Based on your budget and member interests, here are a few ideas you might want to try: 

 

Virtual Events

  • Mail over onsite snacks, treats, and small gifts or swag 

  • Onsite headshots

  • Networking happy hour

  • Virtual Q&A with your president

  • Free professional workshops or trainings

  • Award ceremony 

 

Other Online Appreciation Tactics

  • Feature loyal members in the newsletter and social media

  • Social media campaign to celebrate members

  • Free webinars

  • Online contests and give-aways 

  • Discounts or vouchers to local businesses or services

  • Discounts on upcoming conferences

Step 2: Set the Date 

If you haven’t planned a virtual event before, make sure you’re allowing yourself enough time to set everything up as well as coordinate with any guests. If you’re just running simple activities, a month is more than enough, but if you want to have a lot of different speakers, you might want to consider giving yourself at least three months to get on the calendars of key staff and members, plan member features, and secure possible speakers, trainers, and member goodies.

No matter what activities you choose, featuring the accomplishments and loyalty of select members should be among them. In the beginning stages, you will want to brainstorm with other team members on who you plan to highlight. When you decide, reach out to these members for headshots and possible updates. You may even reach out to their close network to help tell their story.

Step 3: Create Some Buzz

Once your main activities are in place, it's time to spread the word. Start by creating a webpage or blog post, and include announcements in your newsletter and social media.

And note that it's okay if you don't have every activity set in stone while promoting your membership appreciation week. You can even provide teasers of member features, and the types of events members can look forward to. 

If you are implementing a social media campaign, be sure your members (and even your members’ network) are aware of how they can take part. Getting them to share it can expand your reach, and get even non-members interested! 

Step 4: Launch your Membership Awareness Week

It's go time! Keep promoting your activities through email and social media so that late-comers can still join in the later ones. Consider sharing pictures of each day's activities on your social media.

Most importantly, have fun! This is a celebration of those at the heart of your organization—your members. 

Step 5: Recap your Week

When your member appreciation week is done (and I’m sure it will be a wild success!), send out a recap via email, your social media, or blog. If you did any live-streaming, re-upload the video so that members who couldn’t attend live can still see it, and share it out as well. Thank members for taking part and share the week's highlights — this ensures that if some of your members missed out on the fun, they'll be sure to tune in for the next one! 

Read More: How to Write a Volunteer Thank-You Letter That's Actually Meaningful (+ Template)

 

Three Great Examples of Member Appreciation Weeks

 

Do you need a few more ideas? Here are three of my favorite member appreciation weeks hosted by associations and member-based organizations. 

 

Although you’ll see that some of their activities are in-person, they can easily be transitioned to virtual ones. 

 

Schaumburg Business Association

 

The Schaumburg Business Association packs their Membership Appreciation Week with activities tailored for its professional members, including one-on-one meetings with an attorney (which you could do via video call), lunch with the SBA president, and complimentary headshots. They also provide discounts to local businesses throughout the week.

 

Schaumburg Business Association

 

YMCA of the Peaks Region

 

The YMCA of the Peaks Region shows their appreciation with all kinds of member goodies provided right on site. Throughout the week, members receive complimentary YMCA swag and treats, and can take part in special events like a night glow swim and rock climbing. Although activities like these are difficult to hold virtually, you could share activities that members could do in their own backyards to stay safely socially distanced. 

 

 YMCA of the Peaks Region 1

YMCA of the Peaks Region 2

YMCA of the Peaks Region 2

 

College Sports Information Directors of America 

 

The College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSida) appreciate their members through an annual #ThankYourSID social media campaign. 

 

Throughout CoSIDA Membership Recognition Week, those who interact with collegiate athletics communications professionals share social media messages of appreciation and celebration for athletics communications staff members. CoSida also features several members on their own social media platforms and website.

 

College Sports Information Directors of America 1

College Sports Information Directors of America 2

College Sports Information Directors of America 3


6 More Virtual Member Appreciation Ideas 

 

Not able to plan a full week of online activities right now? 

 

That’s totally fine! 

 

Thanking your members regularly doesn’t have to take a lot of planning or cost a great deal. You can still host individual appreciation events, or send members smaller tokens to show how much they mean to you. 

 

Here are six more ways you can show member appreciation regularly, most of which are free or budget-friendly. 

 

1. Say the Magic Words

 

Everyone loves hearing thank you! Actively find moments that warrant a quick thanks, whether that be a new member joining, a membership renewal, a referral, speaking at an event, or attending a committee meeting. While email is the quickest way to thank your members personally, you could send a hand-written note in the mail, or even make a phone call for an extra personal touch. 

 

Consider having the president or executive director of your organization sign thank you notes, or take time to make thank you calls to make members feel even more special.  

 

2. Offer This to Active Members 

You may have a few loyal members that are active in your organization, whether they recently renewed, consistently take part in programs, speak at events, or actively participate in your social media. Consider giving these members tokens of appreciation, like gift cards or gifts. Or you could provide a perk like a discount to your next virtual conference to the top ten most active members in your organization — this might help encourage a little friendly competition as well!

3. Put Them in the Spotlight

Want to showcase members’ achievements? Start a member of the month program, where you highlight members on social media and in your email newsletter. You can feature members who just had a significant achievement, are doing extraordinary work in their field, are active members, or maybe hit a major year milestone as a member of your organization. 

Want some inspiration? Check out this example from the APHE:

 

APHE

 

 

4. Send a Little Something Extra

Who doesn’t love getting mail? Sending a little holiday note is a great way to let members know you’re thinking of them amidst holiday greetings from friends and family. If you have it in your budget, consider sending a holiday gift to members, like a small tin of cookies. 

Plus, you don't have to stick to the big December and January holidays to send a note. If your organization is celebrating a significant milestone or achievement, like your anniversary or a record number of members, you can send a letter of celebration to your members for that as well.

 

5. Reach Out on Their Special Day

If you have a member database, all your members’ birthdays should be recorded — and what’s more personal than a "Happy Birthday" on your special day? Have your president or CEO sign birthday cards to mail, or ask members to write a special message in an e-card and send it by email. If you have a volunteer committee, you could task them with making birthday calls to members.  

If budget allows, you could consider sending along a small gift card or discount to a local business to use during their birthday week. The free Starbucks drink is always one of my favourite birthday perks, so if you can do something like that for your members, they’ll love you for it! (You can really see where my priorities lie, based on all these Starbucks references…) 

 

6. Ask Members This Question

Want members to feel that you value their contributions? 

Just ask them one simple question.

 

“Is there anything our organization can be doing better?” 

 

Don't underestimate how much asking for member feedback will make them feel valued. It will make members feel like they have a stake in the future of your organization, and that their thoughts are appreciated. Ask members how their experience was at a recent conference or ideas for other events and activities. Talk to them about challenges your organization may help them solve — especially in times like these, where they may be facing additional struggles at home. 

 

And you don’t have to stop at one question. You can send a simple survey to members or offer a small gift card as an incentive for a short feedback phone call.

 

Of course, asking for evaluation is just the first step in creating a better experience for your members. Be sure to act on and implement initiatives based on your members' feedback. Seeing your honest opinion and thoughts become recognized and come to fruition is a powerful form of appreciation. 

 

If you want to retain members in the long run, showing member appreciation goes a long way. 

 

It helps build trust and confidence and cultivate engaged and life-long relationships, as well as provide members with additional opportunities to get involved in the activities you’re running even if you can’t be together in person. 

 

Have you had success running a virtual member appreciation week, or any other member appreciation activities? Let us know in the comments! 

Tatiana Morand

Posted by Tatiana Morand

Published Friday, 22 May 2020 at 2:34 PM
Sorry, this blog post is closed for further comments.

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