Archive for December, 2020

Five Things to Love About the Year We Love to Hate

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed

A chorus of jeers is rising for 2020 in its waning days, and for good reason. But before we bid the year a hearty good riddance, consider whether it left us a few unexpected gifts.

How do we hate thee, 2020? Let us count the ways.

Actually, let’s not. That list would be way too long, familiar, and depressing. It seems safe to say that very few of us will be sorry to see the screen door hit 2020 on the way out. Unfortunately, we’ll be cleaning up the mess it left behind for some time to come.

But as hard as it may be find them—and as accidental as they may seem—2020 had a few redeeming qualities. For associations, I count at least five things to love about the year we love to hate.

As hard as it may be find them—and as accidental as they may seem—2020 had a few redeeming qualities.

It clarified our priorities. In an emergency, when resources are suddenly scarce, the fog around priorities—a person’s or an organization’s—tends to lift.

Maintaining meetings in some form became Job One early in the pandemic, leading to a rush into the virtual space—a shift that was probably overdue, but better late than never. Associations now have nearly a year of experience with virtual meetings that they can build a post-pandemic event strategy on. (My colleague Samantha Whitehorne has been chronicling that journey for nine months; her work is worth putting on your holiday-break reading list.)

Meanwhile, many associations made a quick advocacy pivot to prioritize their members’ immediate needs as economic activity nearly ceased in many sectors last spring and then resumed only haltingly. They also took meaningful action to assist with the world’s pandemic response. Internally, many association leaders faced difficult choices about operations and staffing, which led some to take a hard look at the core values and culture that would be needed to sustain their organizations through the crisis and beyond.

We broke free of the office. After virtual meetings, the shift to remote work was the story of the year for associations, along with so many other organizations. Some made the change more easily than others. But after the extended experiment with scattered teams working in places other than a headquarters office, the possibilities for continued flexible work arrangements that would likely help attract and retain talent—not to mention smaller overhead budgets that would come with less office-building square footage—look enticing for the long run.

We dove deeper into DEI. The racial reckoning that grew out of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and too many others pushed associations to recommit to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The summer protests came and statements were issued, but in many cases the response went deeper. Many organizations and coalitions launched new initiatives to address systemic racism in their professions and industries.

Some associations convened difficult conversations among staff and members and examined whether access and opportunity were truly available to underrepresented groups in areas like volunteer leadership and event participation. In ASAE’s Collaborate community , members sought help from their peers and shared details of their own attempts to grapple with complex issues around social justice. Conversations there focused on practical topics like appropriate DEI terminology, use of demographic information in member recruitment, and DEI guidelines for conferences.

We made personal discoveries. I suspect most of us learned something new about ourselves this year—maybe deep, maybe trivial but still interesting. (Me: It wasn’t too late to try yoga and love it; and hey, I like jigsaw puzzles!) We figured out new and far more rewarding things to do with time we used to spend commuting. Last fall, readers shared their COVID-19 silver linings with us.

We learned to appreciate ordinary things. As much as we may love our down-the-hall commutes and bunny-slipper-level home office attire, there’s been a lot to miss: the impromptu deskside drop-ins from coworkers, a favorite coffee shop down the street from the office, even the long hours and sore feet of in-person conferences. I know I took those things for granted, or even complained about them, in 2019. I promise you, that won’t happen in 2021.

So thank you for these gifts, 2020. Now get out.

The post Five Things to Love About the Year We Love to Hate appeared first on Associations Now.

Should Your Association Consider Adding a Gen Z Membership Tier?

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed

With a recession, a pandemic, and a tough job market, some associations are looking to target Generation Z with new member offerings. It can work if you prioritize their engagement, one expert says.

We’re starting to get past the point where millennials are at the center of the discussion around younger members. The focus is shifting to Gen Z—but how can you convince people born after 1996 to join your organization? Is a new membership tier worth discussing?

Sarah Sladek, CEO of XYZ University and a generational engagement researcher, says yes—in part because of the current environment, driven by a recession and a pandemic. And Gen Z is feeling it more than most.

Gen Z actively consumes and creates content in a variety of forms on a variety of platforms. Associations need to do the same.

That might be why discussion of member tiers is picking up again. Sladek compares this period to the 2008 recession, when associations created low-cost tiers for younger members.

“In many ways, we’re seeing a repeat of that market environment now, as associations are scrambling to figure out ways to appeal to young people,” Sladek says, adding that retirements and career changes among older members might also be a factor.

New Generations, New Habits

However, 2020’s younger members aren’t like those of 2008.

For one thing, everything is virtual at the moment—which could be a virtue for omnivorous content consumption that drives many in Gen Z, but that requires a more open-minded approach to content creation that emphasizes visuals and user-generated content.

“Gen Z actively consumes and creates content in a variety of forms on a variety of platforms. Associations need to do the same,” Sladek says.

Another, more fundamental problem? In a world where people spend heavily on monthly subscription-based services, annual memberships may be going out of style.

“This points to a bigger issue for associations, which likely need to reconsider their dues structures,” she says. “In addition to price being a common barrier, young people are also more accustomed to having the option to pay bills monthly rather than annually, yet few associations offer this option.”

Younger generations may also want more purchase options. For example, think of how streaming services offer an à la carte alternative to cable bundles. Likewise, younger members may want flexibility to pick and choose their services. For associations, the forthcoming generation offers a reset opportunity.

“The time is now to be rethinking dues as well as value,” Sladek says.

Gen Z’s Shifting Values

Sladek says that Gen Z has a unique perspective compared with other generations. She notes that Gen Z-ers tend to be highly informed visual learners with a strong focus on creativity and an eye toward broader horizons.

And there’s a distinct focus on advocacy that hasn’t been as pronounced in older generations. That means younger members want to speak up—and if they aren’t being heard, they might not renew.

“Gen Z has been raised in a world where everyone is treated equally and everyone has a voice,” Sladek says. “When the reality is different, they disengage. They will expect a seat at decision-making tables, and for your association to be intentional about outreach and giving a voice to the marginalized voices.”

The Risk of the “Summer Camp” Tier

These changing habits might lead some associations to build membership tiers with a distinctly younger focus. But Sladek warns against separating the tiers too much, as it may create a declining value proposition over time. It’s a situation she likens to a summer camp.

“The student and young professional chapters tend to be more focused on fun, led by peers, and there is a feeling of inclusion as well as responsibility,” she explains. However, when young members move into regular membership, this inclusive environment can be lost. “As a result, the young members ‘graduate’ into an organization where their participation is overlooked or minimized.”

Instead, Sladek suggests that member tiers be in tandem with the organization’s goals while also taking Gen Z insights into account.

“If an association wants to engage young people, it has to be a real commitment throughout the entire organization,” Sladek says. “The associations which struggle to engage young people tend to be those which don’t prioritize engaging them.”

The post Should Your Association Consider Adding a Gen Z Membership Tier? appeared first on Associations Now.

What Virtual Attendees Are Looking for in 2021

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed

A look at three ways attendee expectations have evolved since they pandemic began, and what that means for associations as they plan for their 2021 virtual conference offerings.

As we close out 2020, there’s lots of talk about how the pandemic caused skeptics to embrace everything from remote work to telemedicine. And this new comfort with not going to the office and relying more on technology, as well as the other benefits that come with them, means that consumer, employee, and traveler expectations are changing as we move into 2021.

The same is true for your attendees: With almost a year of attending virtual meetings under their belts, they know what they like and don’t like—and will expect your association to take both into account as you host virtual conferences in 2021. Here are three ways I think attendee expectations have evolved and what that could mean in terms of execution:

Attendees want to make connections. Networking and hallway conversations are staples of in-person events. And although attendees were willing to watch speakers give presentations from their screens with little to no interaction at the beginning of the pandemic, when associations were quickly pivoting to virtual, that’s no longer the case. Attendees expect the ability to connect and share with colleagues, exhibitors, and speakers. And these interactions will need to go beyond Q&A sessions, live chat, and polling. As you plan for 2021, think how you can create intimate settings for small groups of attendees to talk among themselves, they way they might chat waiting in line for food and drinks.

Among groups investing in making these connections happen is the Consumer Technology Association. During a recent virtual press event discussing next month’s CES, CTA President and CEO Gary Shapiro discussed their approach.

“It is costly for us, there’s no secret about that,” Shapiro said, according to AdAge. “We’re feeling the effects of the pandemic like others, and we’ve had to cut back on things, but one thing we invested in was this venue, this platform that allowed exhibitors, customers, attendees, business people, startups, retailers, the investment community, and of course media, to connect.”

Attendees don’t want to stick to the traditional schedule. In-person meetings typically pack a lot into several long days. While it’s pretty common for attendees to leave their hotel room at 7 a.m. and return 12 hours later, your virtual participants really don’t want to be sitting in front of screen that long.

Keep this in mind as your plan your 2021 virtual conference schedules. How can you break up or reconfigure your event so that attendees can get the most of out of it, especially when they are juggling family and work responsibilities in the same space where they are participating in your meeting from?

Next April, for example, the American Counseling Association is transforming what has been a multiday annual conference into “a monthlong celebratory, community-building, and engaging virtual experience.” The New Jersey Dental Association and American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery are also taking a similar approach.

Attendees want more of a voice. Association members are often involved in choosing content and sessions for conferences. And while they should still be doing that for your virtual conferences, consider how you else you can engage them in a way that will help you produce better virtual events. Sure, a post-event evaluation will provide some insight, but consider going further. What if you looked at social media activity during your previous virtual events and picked out three to five attendees who expressed the most frustration or criticism and scheduled a phone call with them? You could ask them more about their experience and what you could be doing better.

By getting attendees more involved in the process or having them help you design your virtual conference in 2021 and beyond, your association is sure to benefit from happier and more engaged attendees.

What expectations do you think attendees will have for your 2021 conferences and events? How are you planning to meet them? Please share in the comments.

The post What Virtual Attendees Are Looking for in 2021 appeared first on Associations Now.

Use Fast Data You Gathered This Year to Improve the Member Experience

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed

The upside of the shift to virtual platforms in the past several months is that members are interacting more with associations digitally. This is providing a quick roadmap of member preferences. Speakers at the ASAE Technology Exploration Conference explained why that’s key.

Members are engaging now more than ever through online channels like virtual events, online community discussions, social media posts, surveys, and online education platforms—which is creating an abundance of data to mine to improve the member experience.

A session on maximizing fast data at the ASAE TEC Virtual conference last week covered the benefits of collecting fast data and how to implement it to help with member recruitment, retention, and renewal.

“Now more than ever there is an uptick in people using data. We’re in a new, changing environment, and we can’t rely on history because the landscape has changed,” said Julie Sciullo, CEO of Association Analytics. “Fast data is real-time data that allows data to stream together to make rapid business decisions.”

Association-specific information from Acumen shows that since March of this year, there has been a 42 percent increase in overall use of data and a 70 percent increase in executive usage. The rapid shift to an all-virtual environment has amped up the use of data, which is providing an opportunity to engage with members more effectively than ever before.

In other words, the data tells the story.

The Next Wave of Data

Associations have long relied on traditional ways of determining member engagement by longevity, volunteering, meeting attendance, and publishing articles, said session co-presenter Tom Lyons, director of IT at the American Society for Microbiology (ASM). The increased use of data in recent months has allowed associations to “look outside the sandbox at the next wave of data.”

Social media streams are incredibly fast. “We get a snapshot of people engaging with us in the moment,” Lyons said. But it’s essential to use that data and not just have it, he advised. And applications are maturing to include more data insights, which makes reporting more accessible to all staff members, not just IT professionals.

Serve Members Better

The ASM team challenged themselves to serve members better by looking at behavioral and demographic data that members share as they interact with the organization through online communities, social media, virtual meetings, and more. This lets ASM staff observe what members are engaging with and what they are specifically interested in, providing better, more relevant information for making business decisions, Lyons said. For example, a member profile is only as up to date as when it was filled out. Priorities and interests change, which is why the behavioral interaction becomes even more important.

Sciullo recommends online communities as a great starting point to gather fast data. “It’s certainly one of the most dynamic and forward-thinking” ways to find out what members are thinking, she said. The chat function in virtual meetings is another way to collect data on what is important to members, as well as voice calls and messages. All that data can be used to drive value back to members, Sciullo said.

Members are providing a customized data trail of what their preferences are through their digital interactions with associations. This is giving associations the chance to respond better—and faster—to their needs.

“We really want to deliver what our members want, when they want it, and on the channels they want it,” Sciullo said. “Now is a better time than ever to move forward in this capacity.”


The post Use Fast Data You Gathered This Year to Improve the Member Experience appeared first on Associations Now.

Get Conference Inspiration from Trusted Peer Connections

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed

So many in our industry have been pushed to their limits in 2020. Whether that has manifested in job loss, interrupted work/life patterns, isolation, grieving the loss of a loved one, unimaginable work pressure or needing to be “always-on” on Zoom or Teams, it has been a year of disruption unlike any we might have imagined.

In spite of all the bad, there is also much that is positive for the next phase of association conferences. Earlier in my career I got connected to a network of like-minded planners and leaders by getting involved in industry associations like PCMA and ASAE. Those relationships have significantly shaped my leadership style and expertise. For many, COVID has made it more difficult to build a trusted peer network.

VCC Client Roundtable

Inspired by one of our clients, last week we convened a roundtable of forward-looking association Event Directors. The purpose of the event was simple; to bring together a like-minded group of really smart and thoughtful people to share what they’ve learned in 2020 and what they are taking into 2021 for their organization’s major conference. It turned out to be an inspiring conversation.

These event pros were not shy and shared many obstacles but always coupled them with an idea or plan to overcome, recalibrate or thrive. In fact, that sharing allowed the group to build trust and connect very quickly. In these days of working remotely, it seems there is no substitute for peer exchange. The greatest value I think they all took away: we are not in this alone.

Roundtable Takeaways

Here are just a few of my favorite snippets from the conversations in hopes you might find something that resonates:

  1. Just try stuff, treat your next event like a laboratory.
  2. It’s more important for your team to understand programming than logistics.
  3. Embracing the opportunity to “own” a virtual program can be exciting and fulfilling.
  4. Have an emcee or host who is not your volunteer president.
  5. Planning virtual events takes more time, resources and energy. Right now, it’s just harder!
  6. Develop your experience strategy before committing to a platform.
  7. Throw out the old (or just get rid of the pomp and circumstance) and embrace the opportunity to try something new and unexpected.

I came away from this exchange more confident and bullish for a future of hybrid events that engage multiple audiences. What I know for sure: with these amazing pros leading the way, association events will never be the same. And that gives me hope.

Do you participate in a formal or informal peer group to help you navigate the future? If so, what advice or valuable lessons learned can you share?


The post Get Conference Inspiration from Trusted Peer Connections appeared first on Velvet Chainsaw.

Top 2020 Membership Takeaways

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed

Is 2020 ending with a bang or a whimper? Hard to say, but it’s almost over, and that is a good thing. The challenges of this year, however, were no match for the fortitude of associations. Here are some reflections.

There’s little chance of overstating what a chaotic and unsettling year 2020 has been. As difficult as it was, associations have exemplified the tenacity, flexibility, and ingenuity necessary to rise to many daunting occasions and continue to meet their members’ urgent needs.

I’ve talked to a lot of association professionals over the past nine months, and what I heard was: This is what associations do best. They are communities of problem solvers. Here are some examples.

Delivering Value Amid Crises

Associations faced many challenges in demonstrating relevant value for members during several crises, but there were still a lot of success stories. Many people I spoke to talked about how the crises made them move much faster—without a safety net.

The American Nurses Association responded quickly to get nurses what they needed most when the pandemic struck: an on-demand COVID-19 webinar series free to all nurses—not just members. ANA garnered 130,000 registrants for the series, and a targeted membership email to those registrants led to approximately 2,600 new members. ANA also extended their grace period for membership renewals and offered members a well-received monthly dues payment structure.

It makes sense that nurses would value information on responding to a global pandemic, but how else do you know what members value? A recent report, Association Trends 2020: From Disruption to Opportunity [PDF], found that despite the many challenges this year has brought, member engagement continues to grow and loyalty to associations is strong. Fifty-one percent of members surveyed said their association is more important to them today than before the pandemic.

Advocacy and meetings are often regarded as core elements of an association’s value proposition. But Tom Morrison, CEO of the Metal Treating Institute, said that as part of an exercise to determine value, MTI took advocacy and meetings off the table and discovered that sales forecasting, financial benchmarking, training, and professional development were important value drivers for members.

Virtually Engaged

Associations large and small found innovative ways to engage members, some on really tight budgets. The Council on Undergraduate Research developed “Five in Five,” videos that provide five tips, solutions, or answers to questions in five minutes. The staff didn’t have any video technical skills to speak of, so they used an inexpensive platform, Animoto, to produce polished videos quickly. CUR’s videos include ones on how to better leverage their online community platform and five tips for hosting a virtual symposium.

The American Concrete Institute also used videos to better connect with members, especially when they realized everyone was becoming a lot more proficient in a virtual world. The membership and marketing teams created short, one- to two-minute whiteboard videos to connect new, prospective, and longtime members with ACI’s benefits. The videos walk members through the benefit options and show them how to navigate different sections of ACI’s website where the benefits can be accessed.

Budgeting Membership Dues

2020 brought a lot of uncertainty, especially regarding finances. Associations struggled to figure out ways to factor membership dues into 2021 budgets. Christina Lewellen, CAE, executive director of the Association of Technology Leaders in Independent Schools, had some great advice.

Her team analyzed different levels of membership based on member engagement, looking at factors like longevity, volunteering, and participation in meetings. That helped them determine which members would be more likely to come back, and that’s how they built their budget.

And finally, how do you communicate with members in a crisis? A combination of empathy and some old-fashioned techniques are key, according to Sheri Singer, president of Singer Communications. She offered lots of practical guidance on ways to talk to members in difficult times. And—bonus—she explained why we all have Zoom fatigue. It’s because we’re experiencing “lizard brain.” Mystery solved!

As we head into 2021, it will be a relief to come out of survival mode and head into what I hope is recovery mode. It’s time to turn the page.

What membership strategies worked for you in 2020 that you plan to use in 2021? Please share in the comments or send me an email.


The post Top 2020 Membership Takeaways appeared first on Associations Now.

A Last Look at Leadership in 2020

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed

Nobody wanted or expected a year like this one. But as 2020 ends, it’s a good time to look at a few lessons worth hanging on to.

Now that 2020 is finally heading out the door—”And stay out!” I’m tempted to yell at it—there are lots of good reasons to avoid looking backward. Vaccines are on the way, a contentious election season is over and done with, and everybody is entering the holiday season eager to turn the page.

But ignoring the experiences of the past year would be a missed opportunity. For much of this year I spoke with association leaders about how they were responding to COVID-19, and they were doing the difficult but necessary work of figuring out how to handle typical association tasks like strategic planning and staff management in a brand-new environment. In 2020, associations proved themselves to be up to the challenges they faced. For that, if nothing else, it’s a year worth remembering.

Below are a few of the lessons that sprung out of 2020, and I hope you’ll take a moment to share some of your own lessons learned in the comments.

Agility is more a part of associations’ DNA than we thought. At this year’s ASAE Virtual Annual Meeting & Exposition, many presentations were about how capable associations were at pivoting in response to COVID-19, changing how they handled meetings, advocacy, and serving member needs. The new environment meant that associations could be more flexible about how they operated and were free to try new ideas in ways they wouldn’t in a “normal” year. “This is the time to try it—if it doesn’t work, just blame COVID,” said the leader of one online meeting of association leaders. It was a time to explore new partnerships and new ways to keep your association’s culture intact despite working remotely.

Focus on what you can do well now, and members will see it.

Oh, and about “normal.” Stop fixating on it. The early days of the pandemic meant throwing out the usual association playbook of tactics and member marketing. “Question every single line item that you have and why you have it and why you are asking people to pay for it,” association consultant Shelly Alcorn, CAE, told me just as everybody was buckling in. As the pandemic has stretched on, it’s been important to avoid complacency and simply wishing for the more familiar times to return. Rather than worrying about when face-to-face meetings are coming back, think about how you can serve members in the current moment. “We are telling our people that no matter what they do, it will never be as good as what we did before, and we cannot wait to get back to doing things that way, without even trying what we could be doing now,” said Joy Davis, CAE, managing director of member products at the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists. Focus on what you can do well now, and members will see it.

You can do governance well in a crisis. Board meetings tend to have a ritual-and-ceremony element to them—the mixers and dinners and icebreaker exercises are there to create a sense of belonging and cohesion, so volunteer leaders can get important collective work done. Those things are hard to replicate virtually, but not impossible. Earlier this year I explored what made one online retreat work well on a practical level—chuck the real-time report-outs, keep an eye on your introverts, beware of Zoom fatigue. But though the meeting format might change, it’s just as important as ever to avoid being reactive and tactical in strategic meetings. The experience of the Automotive Recyclers Association as they redid their strategic plan in 2020 is a reminder that such plans aren’t meant to be a response to a pandemic but resilient enough to handle all sorts of challenges.

There’s a lot of DEI work still to be done. The protests around racial inequality that followed the killing of George Floyd by a police officer last May were not new, but this year there was a stronger urge to do more around diversity, equity, and inclusion than simply acknowledge its importance. Texts to Table, a video series/podcast on race and leadership featuring four Black association executives , was essential viewing for me and many in the association community this year. Leaders needed to be more mindful of how remote-working environments can exacerbate the negative treatment of marginalized groups. But DEI work will only be successful when the C-suite shows real diversity. As Rob Henry, vice president of education at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education put it: “Until we change leadership, this will not matter. I believe people are committed to diversity, but they are more committed to their cultures. And what we have to do is bring in more diverse leaders who will change the culture.”

The post A Last Look at Leadership in 2020 appeared first on Associations Now.

Four Ways to Meaningfully Measure Your DEI Efforts

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed

Make sure your initiatives to build a diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplace are generating real change by measuring more than just demographics. A comprehensive look at inclusion, retention, and employee advancement will offer a better yardstick for DEI success.

Your association has probably been focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in recent years—but has your work produced real, positive change on your staff team? Success can be difficult to measure, but one thing is certain: Your organization needs to go beyond filling quotas.

“There is definitely room for improvement, especially in the association world,” says Heba Mahmoud, senior manager of diversity initiatives at the Consumer Technology Association. “What I see is associations looking at the demographics of who they’re hiring and just leaving it at that.”

Use these strategies to perform a deeper analysis of your organization’s workforce DEI initiatives.

Define Goals Using Benchmarking Data

Your association may have hit what your leaders consider an ideal level of representation across the organization, but is it enough? Get a sense for where you stand in your recruitment efforts by looking at demographics benchmarks across your industry and beyond. Organizations such as Culture Amp create reports [PDF] on diversity, inclusion, and intersectionality that offer insights into representation in the workforce, based on data from more than 100 organizations.

Mahmoud says some organizations try to have their staff demographic composition mirror the composition of their community, the customers they serve, or their country. For added context, look at your own organization’s year-over-year data to see if you’re making consistent progress.

Measure Outcomes, Not Just Output

Hiring diverse candidates is only the first step. Go further by measuring how well these employees are succeeding in your organization and determining whether they have a clear path of advancement.

“We need to start moving past that first stage of recruitment,” Mahmoud says. “Ensure that you’re creating spaces that allow for the journey to continue.”

You can do that by measuring representation at all levels of your organization. What percentage of leadership positions are filled by people in underrepresented groups? Has that percentage increased year over year? Are employees moving up through your organization? If minority groups are underrepresented at the leadership level, your organization may have barriers to career development that need to be removed.

Focus on Retention

You’ve hired diverse workers, but will they stick around? A revolving door of talent doesn’t serve your organization or your employees—in fact, high turnover could have several negative effects. Go beyond recruitment by measuring your employee retention rate. The average employee retention rate in the United States in 2019 was 90 percent; meanwhile, Black employees are 30 percent more likely [PDF] to say they have an eye on the exit than white employees are.

If minority employees are leaving more often than other groups, it could be a sign that your DEI efforts aren’t working beyond the hiring stage.

Use Surveys to Measure Inclusion

A diverse organization is not necessarily an inclusive one. Your DEI efforts need to ensure that all employees feel a sense of belonging and all voices are heard and respected. Inclusion is about making sure your employees’ experiences in your organization are not negatively affected because of their identities.

“One of the key ways that I think we can measure inclusion is engagement surveys,” Mahmoud says. “Ask people how they feel about their inclusion within your organization.”

In your survey, don’t just ask “How do you feel?” Ask specific questions, Mahmoud advises. For example:

  • “Do you feel like you have a safe space to speak up in meetings, to your boss, and to your colleagues?”
  • “Do you feel like you’re able, as a [demographic] person, to provide input to our organization?”
  • “Do you feel like there is a work-life balance here?”

When you analyze your survey responses, you’ll see where your DEI efforts need improvement. For example, if a number of employees express concerns about approaching higher-ups, you can create a leadership inclusiveness training initiative. And if your retention rate is low, these answers could help explain why.

The post Four Ways to Meaningfully Measure Your DEI Efforts appeared first on Associations Now.

A Member Exit Survey That Tells You What You Need to Know

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed

Want to know why members left? Ask them. Effective exit surveys can give you insight into what your association can do to better retain current and future members. Here are a few best practices.

What’s worse than a member leaving your association? Not knowing why. With an exit survey, organizations can turn their lapsed members into valuable sources of information on what they can do better.

But not all organizations take advantage of this opportunity. Jayne Tegge, member engagement manager for the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP), says she has received only one exit survey from companies she has worked for. “And I’ve worked at a lot of places,” Tegge says.

For smaller organizations with limited staff, it’s probably just not a priority, she says. But if you make it one, you can gain insights on the state of your organization. Use these tips to build an exit survey that will tell you what you need to know.

Keep It Short and Simple

Members who are on their way out probably won’t want to sit through a hundred questions. Promote participation by asking about a dozen questions that cover the basics. Questions should include:

  • Why are you discontinuing your membership?
  • What did you like best about your member experience? What did you like least?
  • How can our organization improve the membership experience?
  • What could we have done to keep you as a member?
  • Do you plan to rejoin in the future?

The key is to understand exactly why they’re leaving and what they think you can do better.

Avoid Leading Questions

You won’t have a clear road map for improvement without truthful responses. Make sure that questions are worded simply and without bias and that they don’t suggest an answer. For example, don’t ask, “Do you think our low-cost membership dues are fair?” Instead ask, “What do you think about our membership dues?”

If you create multiple-choice questions, make sure the list of answers covers the entire spectrum of possible reactions, from very positive to very negative, instead of putting a positive spin on each potential response. Make sure to add an “other” option as well to offer more flexibility.

Allow Anonymity

Another way to ensure honest responses is to keep participants anonymous; SIOP follows this strategy, Tegge says. Don’t ask for any identifying information, and make sure you’re not requesting details that are too specific, such as the exact date the respondent joined.

On the technical side, services such as SurveyMonkey let you decide whether to track and store identifiable respondent information.

Leave Room for Written Responses

Use some open-ended questions—including a final question such as “Is there anything more you would like to add?”—to allow respondents to expand on their thoughts.

“That’s why we have open-ended questions, so they can tell us exactly what they want to tell us,” Tegge says. “That is where the content we want is located, because that is an individual’s personal experience.”

Give Lapsed Members a Breather

Wait a few months after members lapse to send your survey so they have a chance to spend time away from your organization and reflect on their experiences. Plus, you don’t want to contact lapsed members too frequently, or they might tune you out.

At SIOP, members receive an exit survey 12 months after their membership ends. Three weeks after that, the organization sends a reminder to complete it, and lapsed SIOP members have a month to submit their answers. This generous window of time increases the number of responses—and the more you get, the more data you have to work with.

“Some think, ‘I’m going to do that, but I don’t have time today.’ So they might do it in five days. Then we have all the stragglers who totally forget about the survey,” Tegge says. “So when we send the reminder at the three-week mark, we get a whole other blast of people.”

The post A Member Exit Survey That Tells You What You Need to Know appeared first on Associations Now.

Five Ways to Have Fun With Remote Colleagues That Aren’t Just Another Happy Hour

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed

As months of remote work go by, organizations are ready to find new ways to engage employees. Consider these activities to help virtual team members connect with one another.

Back in March, organizations had to think of clever ways to connect coworkers as they transitioned to working from home. Thus, the virtual happy hour was born. But for some, the novelty of this activity has vanished after months of remote work.

Yet social activities are still important in combating feelings of isolation among those working from home. Consider these five fun approaches as you plan future virtual team-building experiences.

Three Minutes of Nerd

Put a twist on show-and-tell: Have everyone come prepared to talk for three minutes about something they “nerd out” about. Star Wars, baking, computer programming, craft beer—anything goes! (Props welcomed.) Understanding interests is an important part of building relationships, so employees are likely to make connections as they discuss things they’re passionate about.

Taste Test

Send participants a “taste test” kit with three different brands or varieties of a snack—such as a chocolate bar or potato chips—to taste together and take notes. This offers a new dimension, adding a physical component to a virtual setting.

Another taste-testing activity is to compare name brands to generic alternatives to see if the popular brands live up to their reputations.

Worth a Thousand Words

Get your team’s creative juices flowing with drawing activities. Try a blind drawing exercise, where one person describes an image taken from a random image generator while other team members attempt to draw the image. The catch: The speakers can’t say what the image is, so they are forced to use descriptions, like “wavy lines in background” to describe a mountainous landscape. If you want to turn it into a competition, do it Pictionary-style and ask participants to draw pictures while separate teams guess what the picture is—whichever team makes more correct guesses wins.

Play these games often enough and your workforce might become more productive—studies show that drawing can sharpen memory, improve concentration, and relieve stress.

Virtual Escape Room

The popular in-person experience has gone virtual, allowing teams to cooperatively solve puzzles from home. There are a host of virtual escape rooms to choose from: You can figure out how to jump off a runaway train in the nick of time, or see if you can evacuate from a damaged space station with no gravity and no power. Whatever the adventure, virtual teams will bond over conquering these challenges together.

PowerPoint Karaoke

Put your coworkers’ presentation skills to the test with PowerPoint karaoke. Participants deliver an on-the-spot presentation based on slides they’ve never seen before—and hilarity often ensues. Hold a video meeting with your usual happy-hour group, and select a new person each time to be the presenter.

Silliness aside, this activity can also help employees to build their presenting skills by learning to improvise in front of an audience.

The post Five Ways to Have Fun With Remote Colleagues That Aren’t Just Another Happy Hour appeared first on Associations Now.