Engagement, Value, and Blaming the Member

“Need drives value, value drives engagement, and engagement drives renewal, retention, and all the rest.

If only the members would cooperate.

The flaw in this scenario is that engagement does not drive value. Value drives engagement. Members don’t engage first and then find value, as so many associations seem to think. Before they engage in anything an association offers, members have a mental picture of what they will get out of it. First and foremost, members and customers want or need the solution to a problem—and they engage (i.e., join, volunteer, publish, partner) with the association as a way of finding that solution and realizing their personal, preconceived vision of value.

In other words, members bring their idea of value with them, and they don’t usually change their minds about what it means to them. So, if engagement opportunities an association offers don’t match the members’ original value perception, no amount of “communicating” is going to get them to suddenly see the light.”

Great captivating first paragraphs from the article, Engagement, Value, and Blaming the Member by Andrea Pellegrino.  She brings home many key points I’ve wrestled with over the last several years about the challenges many associations face around increasing engagement, perception of value, and hopefully, higher retention rates.  But what comes first–value or engagement?  We often blame members for their lack of engagement and for not seeing the value we offer.  Andrea is right in that the needs of our members drive the value we can deliver, if we understand the needs and provide the appropriate venues to deliver solutions.

She explains that what’s needed is value-driven engagement and explains it as:

“Value—as it is lived and perceived by the member, not by the association—is the only valid basis for engagement. The trick isn’t to convince more members to volunteer or mentor or come to meetings, or to inject “fun” into the drudgery of committee meetings. The trick is for associations to offer more engagement opportunities based around what members value so that more members become—and remain—engaged.”

This is a great and short article that’s worth meditating about while you have that morning cup of coffee or the cocktail at the end of the day.  Cheers!