Membership Engagement: Coaching the World to Thrive

3rd Jun, 2021

Members are the lifeblood of an association. Fully engaged, they make our associations thrive, have impact and offer a meaningful experience. But having active involvement can be hard – and when it dips, so does membership, morale, finances & results. So, how to boost engagement?

We’re investigating engagement strategies – what’s your association doing to ensure members grasp your purpose and are able to participate in your causes? Do you have a platform in place that makes collaboration easy? Are your members making progress together? How do you promote their contribution?

Magdalena Nowicka Mook speaks with Jeffer London about being a platform for member’s success. As CEO at the International Coaching Federation (ICF), Magda nurtures a system that serves the world by empowering members – it’s a beautiful ripple effect felt by millions, including any of us who have ever been coached.

PURPOSE How do members make sense of your raison d’e╠étre?

We decided to have a very specific and explicit role for our members in our vision statement – “coaching is becoming an integral part of a thriving society and ICF members represent the highest quality in professional coaching.” We exist for them to be the best professionals in the marketplace. It is their work that brings about the empowering of people, organisations, nations and the planet to be at their highest potential and create a better place for all of us. We empower our members, so they can empower their clients.

PARTICIPATION How do your members get involved?

With over 40,000 members around the globe, it is not easy to seek an input from each and every one of them. However, we have several mechanisms that we use to get their voice. We survey new members and newly credentialed coaches every month. Once a year we conduct professional development needs survey as well. And whenever there is an important issue - such as our recent re-branding – we conduct focus groups, snap-shot surveys and seek input from our board members around the globe to be sure we are representing the interests and sentiments of our members in the most accurate manner. We also ask members about their top reasons for optimism and, equally, of concern, so we can best address them as an organisation.

PLATFORM How do your members connect and collaborate?

Most of our members belong to their local chapters and the chapters are the best way for them to collaborate and be in community. We also host eleven communities of practice, where coaches connect through similar interests or market segments – great places to share and learn. Technology is improving just about every day and we have ways for them to interact. From zoom platforms, to blogs, to basecamp or teams, we utilise what is accessible and available to keep our members engaged. As our members reside in just about every time zone there is, the availability of on-demand material and ability to interact outside of the actual meeting are very important.

Coaching is an integral part of a thriving society and every ICF member represents the highest quality of professional coaching.

PROGRESS How do your members move things forward?

Coaching is still a relatively new profession, so one of the ways that we measure progress is the growing awareness of coaching around the globe. It is impressive how fast it is spreading, based on the study conducted every couple of years by PricewaterhouseCoopers. One initiative we are very proud of is the IGNITE programme, which offers pro-bono coaching to the leaders of non-profit organisations. Coaching the leaders of these organisations, has enabled them to inspire and lead their employees to deliver even greater results for the populations they are working with. Through over 60 projects around the globe, we managed to touch lives of over 16 million people over the past two years. That is just heart-warming.

PROMOTE How do you recognise member’s talents?

It is so important to recognise our volunteers and it is also not as easy as one may think! How can we repay for endless hours of time, talent, and commitment? At ICF, we have several awards programmes that celebrate chapters that do amazing things. We have programmes that celebrate Young Leaders in our organisations and those who contributed for many years – we call them the Circle of Distinction. We also recognise our committee leaders, board members – at every level – chapter leaders and others who serve at the ad hoc capacity. We know they are not doing what they are doing for recognition and yet it is the very least we can do to appreciate them.

POSTSCRIPT Any other advice for creating engagement?

People engage when they align with the mission and vision of the organisation. They make themselves available when they believe they can make a difference, and their dedication in fact moves the organisation closer to its desired outcomes. Some may come to you. Some you may need to invite as they do not see themselves as leaders, although they have every quality it takes. Being open, inviting, building your pipeline and looking for unusual talent, is what will land you with the leadership that cannot be stopped from dreaming and delivering – in other words, keeping your organisation relevant and evolving to meet the needs of your stakeholders.


Jeffer London is on the board to the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) and hosts the Facilitation Impact Awards. More info at or @jefferlondon.

The IAF promotes facilitators and all who use facilitation to help people work together effectively. Looking for better facilitation? Check out or talk to Jeffer directly about facilitating leadership teams and association-wide engagement initiatives.



Magdalena Nowicka Mook is the CEO of the International Coaching Federation (ICF). ICF is the leading global organisation dedicated to advancing the coaching profession by setting high standards, providing independent certification and building a worldwide network of trained coaching professionals. See how ICF connects its member coaches with what they need to succeed in their careers, at

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