As part of my New Insights from a New CAE weekly column on SmartBlog Insights, I’m delving deeper into my New Volunteer Manifesto that I published here. In Part 5 published last Thursday, I looked at New Ways of Associating.
The New Volunteer Manifesto: New Ways of Associating
I recently published a call to action for associations, a New Volunteer Manifesto. Last week I explored creating a learning culture for volunteer. Now I’d like to propose some new ways of associating.
Nurture social networks that connect members with one another and with your association. Don’t assume that if you build a private network that they will come. Find out where your members are hanging out – possibly Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter – and build your community there.
Give members the encouragement and tools to self-organize informal member meet-ups. Don’t be threatened if members use your online networks to publicize these meet-ups. Encourage and help them. Be the connecting thread.
Make it easy for members to organize working groups to explore new ideas and projects. Don’t perpetuate barriers that rein in their creativity and desire to experiment and be innovative.
Give younger members the means to contribute their talents and their voice. Younger generations are not as willing as Boomers were to ‘pay their dues’ and watch and wait while others contribute to their association.
Make it easy for all members to give feedback. Consider a feedback area on your web site or an online forum. Allow your members to have a voice and a place to contribute their ideas.
Control is a touchy subject. You really have never had it, as much as you would like to think you did. This is the member’s organization, not just the board’s, definitely not the staff’s, no matter how invested we are. As long as members stay on message politically, don’t be threatened at their attempts to create what works for them.
Transparency and openness are now more important than ever. Many members want to know what’s going on behind the scenes, what decisions are being made, and what their association and leaders are doing. Make it easy for a member to figure all this out by sharing this information on your web site.
Don’t be afraid to take a risk and maybe even fail. Your fear of regret should loom larger than your fear of failure. Be receptive to new ideas. We are entering new territory – members no longer need us as their source of knowledge, news and networking. We must find ways to remain a meaningful and valuable part of their lives.
Keep a spirit of entrepreneurial innovation alive in your leadership.
What do you think about these ideas? Have you tried any?