Regardless of your association’s mission or membership count, community outreach is a must for both engaging more deeply with your existing members and attracting like-minded new members. Community outreach gives your association the opportunity to show members what you really care about by supporting causes that are aligned with your core values.
By engaging in community outreach activities, you are not only helping the world around you, but you’re also providing more individual benefits to your existing membership, like personal development and networking opportunities. Bringing value to your membership and your community is a win for all involved.
There are countless options for community outreach strategies, so check out the ideas and tips outlined below to find the perfect fit for your organization!
The best place to start when kicking off your community outreach campaign is to first engage with your members to discover what causes matter most to them. This is the best way to ensure your association’s community outreach initiatives are meaningful, impactful and likely to draw participation.
Ask your members what causes they are passionate about and have them nominate nonprofits and charities to donate to. This not only allows you to discover a plethora of options you may not have been familiar with before, but it also ensures the option(s) chosen align with your members’ passions and interests.
By supporting initiatives near and dear to your members’ hearts, you’ll generate higher participation rates and deeper connections with your existing membership.
After identifying what your membership is passionate about, you may want to hone in on one local nonprofit/charity to support on an annual or semiannual basis. Instead of piggybacking off of other nationally recognized fundraising days, which often come with hefty competition, you can consider creating your own fundraising day or week that members and their friends and families can participate in for your charity of choice.
On the flip side, you may decide that there are multiple causes in the community your local chapters would like to support. Create a dedicated page within your membership portal for local volunteer opportunities and encourage your members to take part in as many as they can! You can also promote these events in local chapters’ member emails, mobile messaging campaigns and social media. Some ideas for local volunteer opportunities include:
A great way to become ingrained locally while amplifying your community engagement efforts is to partner with local businesses. These partnerships are a win-win for both your association and the company you partner with, as it amplifies your brand to a larger audience.
Tap into the networks and relationships that your members have with local businesses, most of which will likely have similar community goals as you! By using your membership to help identify mutually beneficial community partners, you are also showing your commitment to their interests and needs, increasing loyalty.
By pooling resources with a local business – preferably a business that is relevant to your association – your community efforts can be multiplied while connecting your members with other professional networking resources in a fun and stress-free way.
Hosting a digital fundraising campaign on GoFundMe or a similar platform is an easy way to support your local community without having to organize a face-to-face event for members, especially during Covid surges. Additionally, crowdfunding enables your members to share the campaign with their networks as well, multiplying your fundraising power.
One drawback to online fundraising campaigns is that while convenient, they do not promote a deeper connection between your members. However, in many cases, digital fundraising campaigns may run as only one component of a larger fundraising initiative. It allows for larger participation numbers, even for those who may not have the physical time to devote to your community engagement events.
A great way to boost community outreach while also providing benefits to members is to start an internship or apprenticeship program with local youth. Ask your membership if there are needs that can be filled within their full-time positions or host interns in your association’s office on a semester or yearly basis. The education that the intern(s) will receive is unparalleled, while you and your members will benefit from extra hands to assist with projects and initiatives.
By providing educational opportunities for youth, especially in underprivileged communities, your association is contributing to the long-term success of the community.
Staying true to your association’s large-scale values while focusing on local initiatives that your members are passionate about is critical when planning community engagement efforts of all kinds and gaining buy-in. Always ask your members for their opinions and support their passions to increase connection and trust in your community!
Emily Herrington is a New Orleans-based digital marketer specializing in SEO, content, and pay-per-click advertising. She can usually be found at her desk obsessing over data and rankings, or in the kitchen covered in flour.
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