Associations are built for members, but it is you and your board who are elected to make decisions that improve the member experience. As representatives of the association, you are trusted to make decisions on behalf of members, but do you have to do it completely on your own? Here is how you can be an even better board by reaching out to your member base:
- Remember, you are an ambassador. It can be so easy for board chairs and members to make decisions based on their own beliefs or opinions — but at the end of the day, you are there for the members, so don’t get lost in defending yourself or the organization. Approach criticism with curiosity and empathy so you have a better basis for decision making when a similar issue comes up.
- Understand member expectations. Are there certain programs or events that you know members expect? For example, if your annual conference has consistently high attendance, you know members care about it. Make these items priorities so that you are following through on high-value member benefits.
- Do member check-ins. Consider distributing a survey to active volunteers and/or your whole member base to gather information about upcoming decisions, what they want to see more of, and what is not working well. Asking for their help shows thoughtfulness.
- Vary communication methods. If you are trying to reach your entire member base, email alone will not cut it. Consider social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or even personal phone calls! This not only will get you more engagement, it will prove to members you care that they see the information you are distributing.
Managing the hopes and expectations of an entire organization is not easy, and it’s important to remember that not everyone will be happy all the time. By promoting engagement with the member base and asking questions, you will show that you care about what your members think and bridge the gap. For more advice on board governance, check out our podcast, Associations Next.