Your members are the lifeblood of your association. They participate in lively discussions at events and conferences, support each other personally and professionally, and, of course—they pay their dues. For all that they contribute to your association, your members deserve to be appreciated.
Luckily, there are a variety of ways to show your members how much you value them. Whether you’re planning a member appreciation day, hosting a virtual event, or just improving your day-to-day strategy, these ideas can help you get creative. Here’s what we’ll cover to help you improve your efforts:
- Why You Need a Member Appreciation Strategy
- 13 Member Appreciation Ideas That Work
- Tips for Hosting a Member Appreciation Day
- How eCard Software Can Boost Your Member Appreciation Efforts
These member appreciation ideas don’t just make your members feel good, they can also help your association boost engagement, retention, and even recruitment. Let’s explore the reasons you should prioritize member appreciation, then we’ll dive into how to do so effectively.
Why You Need a Member Appreciation Strategy
Saying thank you to individual members when they attend an event or suggest a great webinar topic is a good start, but it may not be enough to make an impact. To truly express your gratitude and make members feel valued, you need a comprehensive member appreciation strategy.
When you have a structured plan in place to recognize members often and in the ways they prefer, member appreciation can boost your association’s:
- Retention rates: Members who don’t feel appreciated may choose not to renew their membership. Reduce the chances of lapsed members and increase retention rates by ensuring that every member knows their place in your association is important.
- Engagement levels: A thoughtful thank you note or a gift for attending an event can easily prompt members to up their engagement with your association.
- Fundraising results: Don’t forget to factor your association’s donors into your appreciation strategy as well. Regularly thanking and recognizing donors helps you build strong relationships that last.
- Recruitment success: Satisfied members who feel like a valued part of your community are much more likely to spread the word about your association to their friends and colleagues. Plus, you can highlight especially engaged members in your marketing materials to draw in new prospects.
Your association can reap all of these benefits by investing more of your time and resources into member appreciation.
13 Member Appreciation Ideas That Work
When crafting your appreciation strategy, be sure to include a mix of member appreciation tactics to provide variety. Not every idea will resonate with all of your members, so take note of individual preferences and record them in your member database. When an idea makes a big splash with a majority of your community—lean into that tactic! Now, let’s dive into our top member appreciation ideas.
1. Member Appreciation eCards
You can’t go wrong with a classic thank-you card, but you can make it better by going digital. Online greeting cards, or eCards, make showing your appreciation quick and easy without sacrificing crucial personalization.
Through eCardWidget’s intuitive platform, your association can design your own set of branded eCards and send them to members. To show your appreciation, leverage eCards in the following ways:
- Send thank-you eCards to all members who attended an event, webinar, or conference.
- Celebrate your members’ personal achievements by sending congratulations eCards.
- Send eCards with personal messages to individual members when they reach milestones like five years of membership.
- Spread holiday cheer by sending well wishes to members with holiday eCards.
- Send thank-you eCards to members when they make a donation.
- Welcome brand new members to your community by sending a welcome eCard.
The best part: you can take member appreciation to a whole new level with eCards by letting your members take the driver’s seat.
What does that look like? Simply use the platform to add a sending widget to your website or member portal, and members will be able to send any eCard to another member. Think members applauding one another’s presentations, congratulating each other on new jobs, or just saying Merry Christmas. With eCards, you’ll create a culture of appreciation within your association and encourage members to build a positive community on their own.
Take a look at how Harbor launched an eCard appreciation campaign to celebrate its veterinarian members:
By letting your members send eCards like this one to other members, you’ll plant the seed for lasting, peer-to-peer appreciation that lifts up everyone in your association’s community.
For situations that warrant tangible appreciation efforts, don’t be afraid to send a gift to your members! Some of our favorite gift ideas for association members include:
- Branded merchandise like t-shirts, water bottles, or notebooks
- Gift cards to stores or sites you know your members love
- Free subscriptions to professional magazines
When in doubt, choose gifts that align with your industry or sector. For instance, if your association is made up of veterinarians like our earlier example, pet accessories or branded scrubs might be especially well-loved gifts for your members.
3. Welcome Packages
Start showing your members appreciation from the moment they join to establish a positive relationship up front. Create and send small welcome boxes full of association-branded items, information packets, and discount cards for relevant businesses. Or, put together virtual welcome packages that include discount codes, gift cards, and branded Zoom backgrounds along with information about involvement opportunities.
4. Handwritten Notes
For example, you could have your staff write a heartfelt letter to a prominent member on their tenth anniversary with your association. Or, if a member makes an especially large donation, taking the extra time to handwrite a thank-you card shows that you personally appreciate the contribution.
5. Member Appreciation Events
In-person or virtual member appreciation events are a classic way to celebrate membership and give your members a valuable opportunity to connect with each other. These events could take the form of a dinner, a holiday party, or any other type of event that you know your members would find especially enjoyable.
6. Social Media Shoutouts
Go a step further from mass appreciation tactics to recognize individual members who make a large impact on your association. Choose one individual per week or month to personally shout out on your association’s social media accounts.
Social media shoutouts will resonate with those who prefer public recognition, and they can serve as recruitment tools by providing examples of members who love your association. Just be sure to ask for members’ permission before posting!
7. Newsletter Spotlights
Member spotlights in your newsletter are similar to social media shoutouts, except newsletters provide the opportunity to create more in-depth profiles. Use these longer spotlights to:
- Highlight long-standing members’ histories with your association.
- Celebrate member accomplishments, such as winning awards or speaking at conferences.
- Recognize major commitments and service to your association’s community.
If you send out printed newsletters, members are likely to find a newsletter spotlight especially valuable since they can keep it as a token of your appreciation long-term.
8. Member Appreciation Day or Week
Instead of spacing out appreciation tactics over time, some associations opt to pool all of their member appreciation ideas into a single day or week. This can make for an exciting, jam-packed annual event where the only objective for members is to show up and celebrate their relationship with your association.
We’ll get into more detail about hosting a successful member appreciation day later in this article.
9. Appreciation Videos
Videos are known to be more engaging than text, so why not incorporate them into your member appreciation strategy? Record thank-you videos from staff to put a face to your appreciation. These videos can be personalized to thank an individual or sent out to all members on special occasions, like the anniversary of your association’s founding or Thanksgiving.
10. Mentorship Programs
If a professional mentorship program isn’t already one of your association’s membership benefits, look into starting one. Free career or skill-based mentoring is one of the most valuable member appreciation ideas you can offer to your members.
Plus, these programs provide opportunities for more established members to increase their involvement and give back to their community in a highly personal way.
11. Flexible Engagement Options
Sometimes the best member appreciation ideas are the ones that improve your association’s existing offerings rather than introduce new ones. Increasing accessibility across the board is a clear, actionable way to show you care about and respect your members.
To do so, take a look at your existing programs and engagement opportunities, and find ways to make them more flexible. This could mean adding a virtual option to all of your events and webinars, or it might look like adding closed captions to all of the videos in your resource library.
12. Feedback Surveys
Another clear way to show members that you appreciate and respect their opinions is to simply ask for them more often. Send out regular surveys requesting feedback on your programs, resources, events, and even your social media presence. Record all of the information you receive in your member database, then take action to better align your offerings and communications with member preferences.
13. Member-to-Member Appreciation Opportunities
Members love to be recognized by your association, but they also enjoy sharing appreciation by recognizing others. Give them plenty of opportunities to do so, through eCards, discussion groups, and member-nominated awards.
Encouraging member-to-member recognition will ensure that your entire association community feels appreciated and valued.
Tips for Hosting a Member Appreciation Day
One of the most popular ways that associations show their members they care is by devoting entire days, weeks, or even months to member appreciation. These member appreciation days often invite all members to take part in a variety of fun activities centered around celebrating members throughout the day. Activities could include member award ceremonies, trivia competitions, and meet and greets.
While traditionally in-person, many organizations have shifted to virtual member appreciation days or weeks to provide more flexibility for members across the country to join. If you’re interested in planning your own member appreciation day, start by evaluating whether in-person or online events would be a better fit for your community.
Once you’ve determined that, follow these basic steps to host an engaging member appreciation day:
- Plan your appreciation day’s schedule of events. Choose a date, time, and location for the day, then look back at our list of member appreciation ideas to start building out a robust and engaging schedule.
- Send invitations to all members. To set the tone, create special eCard invitations for your member appreciation day. Send your eCard invites out to all members, and encourage them to share the invitations with any friends who haven’t registered for the event yet using your eCard sending widget.
- Promote the event across multiple marketing channels. Start marketing early to give members plenty of time to make any necessary travel plans. Share content about the day via social media, email, direct mail, and your website to widen your reach. Make sure to include the online registration link in all promotional materials, and don’t forget to send out plenty of information to registered guests ahead of time.
- Host your member appreciation day! Enjoy getting to focus on celebrating your members and building relationships. At the event, consider giving out small appreciation gifts or member recognition awards to make a bigger impact on members.
- Thank everyone for attending the event. You may not think this step is necessary since the entire day was about thanking your members, but it’s still a best practice to thank attendees after the event. Send thank-you eCards to all the members who attended, and add personalized notes for those who won awards.
After hosting a successful member appreciation day, take stock of what went well. Which activities were members most excited to participate in? Which marketing channels led to the most registrations? Discuss questions like these with your team so you can make next year’s member appreciation day even better.
How eCard Software Can Boost Your Member Appreciation Efforts
There’s no doubt that member appreciation is important, but your staff also have plenty of other responsibilities vying for their attention. Anything you can do to make the member appreciation process easier and more streamlined will take the weight off of your hardworking staff and benefit members in the long run. One way you can do so is by leveraging eCard software.
Almost all of the member appreciation ideas above can be improved by incorporating eCards. These digital greeting cards are incredibly flexible and offer numerous ways to get creative. Beyond member appreciation, you can start using eCards in other ways, like:
- Celebrating holidays and birthdays
- Recognizing donations
- Inviting members to events, webinars, and conferences
- Encouraging members to interact with each other online
- Appreciating staff members at your association
These uses just scratch the surface. Explore real examples to see more of the many ways your association can get creative to incorporate eCards into your long-term appreciation and operations strategies.
Your association can get started with any of these member appreciation ideas now and build out your appreciation strategy. Once you put these ideas into practice, your members are likely to be more engaged, active, and committed to your association’s community. Remember to take their feedback and preferences into consideration as you jump into celebrating your members.
To learn more about member appreciation ideas and the ways eCardWidget can help, check out these additional resources:
- How to Thank Donors: Best Practices + 15 Effective Ideas. Learn best practices and ideas for thanking donors, then apply them to your member appreciation strategy.
- 11 Top Corporate Gifting Platforms & Companies to Consider. Looking for member appreciation gifts that really stand out? See the unique kinds of gifts these 11 gifting companies have to offer.
- 13 Remote Employee Recognition Ideas to Show You Care. Take inspiration for your member appreciation ideas from these popular ways companies show appreciation for their remote employees.