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by Kevin Helm, KCSAE Secretary

I’ve been involved with KCSAE for a long time and am receiving more value from my KCSAE membership than ever before.  I believe it’s primarily because I’m more involved in the organization than I have ever been – in part because there are more opportunities that make it easy to be involved.  Personally, there is a correlation between my involvement in KCSAE and the value I receive from my membership.

There are plenty of articles and books and what-nots regarding member involvement, for good reason.  It could arguably be the single most critical element to proving value for your association.  While much has been published on this subject, evolving technology increases our opportunities to address the needs of our members in an increasingly sophisticated manner.

KCSAE is keeping abreast of these changing technologies and the needs of our members with the development of four new online communities.  Communities designed to bring together members who share common interests and needs.  These new online communities were developed to improve upon the success of the association’s existing member engagement activities.  If you haven’t joined one of the communities, I encourage you to get more out of your KCSAE membership by signing up on the web site for any which fit your interests -- Membership, Emerging Professionals, Advanced Professionals, and CEO communities.

Most often, when you find an organization with a thriving, engaged membership base, you’ll find an organization focusing its resources on member engagement. Caitlin Struhs at Higher Logic wrote a succinct article on this subject, with a focus on online communities.  She suggests that the function of an online community is all about giving people a place to engage, no matter their interests or industries.  Furthermore, she cites that ASAE found that members who are engaged in their online community, Collaborate, are 30 percent more likely to renew.  Additionally, they found that these engaged members are 23 percent more likely to recommend ASAE to their peers.

My organization, the Society for Healthcare in Simulation, has also recognized this opportunity and has invested significantly in building our online communities.  We’ve added a full time employee (total 11 employees) devoted solely to managing and developing interest groups at three different participation levels and we’re now building an app for the purpose of facilitating additional electronic communication within these groups.  We’re already realizing a significant bump in our online community membership and activity and we’re looking forward to learning as much as we can given the ease with which online engagement can be tracked and measured.

So, with so many articles and advice, what makes a good engagement strategy? I like the simplicity of the three factors mentioned by Caitlin Struhs:

Step 1 – Make it easy
Make it easier for your members to engage across multiple platforms, especially mobile.  Focus on usability and accessibility.

Step 2 – Make it often
Provide as many opportunities for engagement as possible.  Add more features, notifications, prompts and entirely new engagement programs.  She describes, “frictionless engagement” as making sure your members can engage the way they want to engage, whether it’s on mobile devices, email, smart watches, or a desktop.

Step 3 – Make it fun
The members should feel good when they use your community, they should enjoy finding answers to their questions and being recognized for contributions.

For a good first step, grab a copy of  C. David Gammel’s book, Maximum Engagement  for an introduction to measuring and developing strategy around member engagement.  He presents engagement in a methodical manner and provides metric-driven strategies you can easily apply to your organization.  At my previous organization, with the guidance he provides in his book, I identified 32 different engagement points, divided those into meaningful categories, assigned priorities and weights to each, and built a map of our organization’s engagement activities.  This map helped us set priorities by identifying the areas where we could make the greatest impact in member engagement.

Regardless of which tactic or strategy you use, I’m confident your organization will also benefit with a robust engagement strategy, particularly focused on online engagement.  We’re doing it here at KCSAE with a thriving membership base engaged in the increasing number of opportunities.  If you personally haven’t yet done so, get more out of your membership by joining one or several of the new online communities and help us continue to make KCSAE a relevant and thriving organization.


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