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Top 5 Strategies for Engaging and Retaining Club Members

Connect with club members to improve retention.

Attracting new club members and retaining the ones you have enables your organization to balance its budget, expand programming, and continue being a positive presence in your community. Of course, while offering great programming is a strong first step in engaging club members, it's far from the only one. 

Club members experience a variety of benefits from being part of your organization, such as access to activities that interest them, socialization opportunities, and exclusive events. Ensure your members are aware of and able to access these benefits through your marketing efforts, organization model, and overall club values. 

To help your club engage more members, this guide will dive into five strategies for understanding members, providing them with services they’re interested in, and ensuring they feel valued. Let’s jump in. 

1. Build a Sense of Community

Clubs thrive when they foster a welcoming, inclusive environment where every member feels like they belong. While many of your members are likely friendly, breaking the ice is challenging, so they will appreciate your club leadership lending a helping hand to ease the process. 

A few ways you can encourage club members to facilitate connections and begin building a sense of community include: 

  • Social events. Whether your club is based on swimming, team sports, or quilting, chances are many members join specifically because they want to connect with others. Encourage members to get to know each other by hosting social events like lunches, routine activities, and even online meet-ups if getting together in person is ever impractical. 
  • Mentorships. When new members first join your club, they may be overwhelmed or even feel a bit shy about reaching out to long-term members. You can make new members feel welcome by asking your current members to volunteer as mentors. The mentors will be new members’ go-to people for asking questions, learning about your club, and establishing their first social connections. 
  • Dedicated communication channels. While most of your activities will likely take place in person, giving your members a way to stay connected outside of the club can boost their ability to socialize. This might be a dedicated group chat, a Facebook group, or even an emailing list. 

Once you give your members the tools to smoothly get to know one another, they’ll start building a community for you. However, when getting started with a new club or if interactions stagnate, try new community outreach activities that shake up your members’ routines and give them a new way to connect. 

2. Offer Relevant and Diverse Programs

While most of your club likely has at least a few shared interests, diversifying your programming allows you to attract more members, cater to changing interests, and provide more engagement opportunities. For example, you might offer:

  • Recreational events
  • Workshops
  • Guest speaking events 
  • Community service opportunities

Different types of activities appeal to different members and can even inspire club members to consider new viewpoints about how they participate in their shared hobby. 

To fund new activities, you may charge an extra fee. NXUnite’s guide to membership benefits suggests a strategy for using these activities to attract new members while also providing additional value to current ones. Open up new and special events to the general public for a ticketed fee and provide members with a discount, early-access tickets, or even free entry. 

Through this strategy, individuals curious about your club can get a taste of what joining might be like, along with an opportunity to meet current club members. Additionally, club members will feel their membership fees are worth it if they continually receive perks unavailable to non-members. 

3. Seek Feedback and Input

Your club should change and grow as members’ interests, priorities, and preferences evolve. Regularly solicit feedback from club members through surveys, focus groups, or informal discussions. Doing so lets them feel heard, which increases investment by making them feel like they have a say in the overall direction of your club. 

If suggestions are doable and have considerable benefits, act on them and involve club members in the decision-making process. 

For example, you might survey club members about your club’s current technology and how easy interacting with you online is. Several club members might share frustrations they’ve had with your current digital waiver system. With this feedback, you might reach back out to members to get more information regarding their frustrations. This additional feedback can help you decide if you need a new service provider, change how you give directions for accessing waivers, or even provide a low-tech alternative for those who prefer a pen-and-paper option. 

4. Recognize and Celebrate Achievement

When members go the extra mile to participate in your club, acknowledge it. Celebrate accomplishments, whether they’re personal milestones such as being a member for five years or explicitly related to club activities like coming first in their age group in a marathon. Recognizing members encourages them to continue participating in your club and sharing part of their life with your community. 

eCardWidget’s member appreciation ideas for associations offers a few recognition methods that are applicable to clubs:

  • eCards. More efficient than handwritten notes but just as memorable, eCards are an electronic way to send greeting cards to your club members. These cards can be customized to include your club’s branding and a unique message from leadership to the recipient. eCards can be sent immediately after creation or scheduled for delivery. This allows you to create dozens of eCards before an important date, like a holiday, and set them to deliver at the right moment. 
  • Gifts. Tangible gifts do a lot to make your club stand out in members’ minds. Even small clubs can order custom t-shirts and mugs to hand out to members on special occasions, such as their membership anniversaries. 
  • Newsletter spotlights. Consider adding member spotlights if you have a weekly, monthly, or quarterly newsletter. These spotlights could highlight a specific member and their accomplishments, letting them enjoy a bit of public recognition from the rest of your community while also inspiring other members to continue striving to reach their own club-related goals.

Recognition awards and gifts don’t need to be expensive or over-the-top. Celebrating little accomplishments and expressing appreciation for members’ participation in your club helps build relationships with members, strengthening their commitment and loyalty in return. 

5. Provide Opportunities for Leadership and Growth

Many members may be happy to just participate in pre-organized activities, whereas certain long-term members may be interested in increasing their involvement in your club and potentially becoming leaders. 

Provide these members with opportunities to develop relevant skills, both personally and professionally. For example, you might help a member grow their leadership skills by having them assist a current leader with managing a fundraising campaign

For members who demonstrate that they’re up to the task, treat them as stakeholders when making decisions. They can provide their input and assistance for future programs. As your club grows, these individuals can help organize new members and allow you to continue operating at scale. 

Your club’s members come to you to participate in activities relevant to their hobbies, socialize with new friends, and become part of a larger community. Keep them engaged by organizing your club to let them take these actions as smoothly as possible. Engineer social situations that encourage new members to get to know one another, provide new opportunities that expand members’ horizons, and celebrate all of the accomplishments your members achieve along the way.