Three Tools to Help Engage Members Online
Members are defined as those who belong to something — be it a group, a club, etc. But most organizations realize that while belonging is the beginning, they need to do more to engage members than just merely exist. Most members belong to an organization because they desire a heightened level of involvement with it and its cause, and to become connected to other like-minded members. Thanks to the Internet, communicating with all constituents and keeping them up to date with current events and projects your organization is working on is easier and cheaper than ever.
In the book “Major Donors: Finding Big Gifts in Your Database and Online,” authors Ted Hart, James M. Greenfield, Pamela M. Gignac and Christopher Carnie discuss some online tools that organizations can use to keep members, specifically major donors, engaged and involved. They are:
1) Weblogs. A blog written by a staff member can keep members informed on the progress of a campaign or program, engaging high-dollar members by putting them in direct contact with those carrying out the work their dollars make possible. And if you are an advocacy organization, including blogs from activists with first-hand accounts of the work that’s being carried out in the field puts a personal face on the work the organization does.
2) Message boards. Message boards can be used to put members in contact with other members. The authors use the example of the March of Dimes, whose online community, ShareYourStory.org, allows members to post questions, respond with answers or advice, or encourage each other. “Reading the first-hand experience of another member can be just as interesting and meaningful as a face-to-face meeting, not to mention much more convenient for all parties involved,” the authors write.
3) Members-only community. This type of community is a great resource to make available to members who are major-gift prospects. The authors recommend including a planned gift calculator, a live chat with a major-gifts officer or multimedia testimonials by previous major donors where they explain their reasons for giving and what they, personally, got out of their relationship with the organization. Most of all, the community should connect prospects with each other, “creating an online major-donors community with exclusive benefits, privileges and value,” they write.