15 Jun Maintaining Association Member Engagement During the Coronavirus Pandemic
The recent onset of the coronavirus pandemic has sent many businesses scrambling to deal with the resultant upheaval, including professional organizations. How your association manages the pandemic could be the difference between continuing to thrive and seeing years of hard work laid to waste. Here are two initial steps your association can take to help you navigate this difficult time of uncertainty.
Evaluate Your Association’s Unique Needs
Virtually every industry has been hit with challenges due to lockdowns, ill colleagues, and changes to safety protocols. You can make your association invaluable to members by helping them figure out new rules and regulations, arriving at a consensus about safety, and serving as experts about how to keep functioning while offices are shuttered.
For medical membership groups, for example, support on the front lines of treatment might be necessary, along with optimizing resources and research information. Your association can function as a clearinghouse for communication and updates, as well as provide a lifeline for those who may be struggling with the emotional aspects of the pandemic.
What is the best way to find out what your membership needs? Ask them. If they’re not coming to you with requests for assistance, send out a survey or host an online chat session. Some areas of concern that are likely to arise include:
- Changing industry standards and protocols
- Working from home logistics
- Staff illness and retention
- Retirement funding and investments
- Legal liability and risk management
- Association publications
- Membership fees and dues
- Member job loss or reduced hours and long-term economic difficulties
- Rescheduling events on the calendar
Move Meetings and Events Online
While immediate meetings and in-person events have probably already been moved online, those big annual get-togethers and conferences further in the future pose a problem. Do you cancel or reschedule, or do you hope that people will be able to go back to some semblance of normal life by the date of your event?
Factors to consider:
- Cancellation for venues, hotels, etc.
- How far out the event is
- Revenue needs
- Ability to reschedule key people involved
- Attendee preference
Another option is to take major events online too, just like board meetings and smaller conversations. Consider that a year or more from now, we could still be facing coronavirus restrictions. Also, if the economic downturn persists, as it may well, members may welcome the chance to participate in an annual meeting or conference without the onerous expenses of travel and lodging.
The challenges here are twofold: ensuring your tech is up to snuff to handle the event and getting everyone on board with an online alternative. It may well be worth the expense of hiring a tech consultant for the event who can advise your group about issues you haven’t yet considered or be there for the conference to troubleshoot and help things go smoothly. A pro can also deal with security issues to minimize the risk of cyber threats or privacy violations.
The latest predictions for the coronavirus in the United States estimate that many areas may be experiencing social distancing for some months to come and that it’s possible multiple waves of restrictions may be in the future into 2021. Jaffe Management is here to help you navigate this time of transition, whether your association needs help with a headquarters office in order to go virtual or with membership administration should you find yourselves overwhelmed or understaffed.
Reach out today with any questions about how we can assist your association.