Membership Engagement: Keeping Your People Connected

28th May, 2020

Membership relationships hold associations together in the best of times; in times of crisis, these connections are put to the test. Will your members lean in to the challenge? Opt out? Or use this time in the way you suggest? Here are five ways associations are working with members in these challenging times:

1) Encourage Social Connection

“Social relationships are an incredibly important buffer against the negative consequences of stress” said Katie McLaughlin in the online Covid19 roundtable event of the Association for Psychological Science. She goes on to say “Strong emotional support not only prevents anxiety and depression in periods of stress, but also buffers against the negative physiological consequences of stress on the immune system and physical health.” Their event discussed the psychological dimensions of COVID-19 and how it is affecting both society and individuals. The online gathering was a natural response for their association, and offers us all insights into maintaining social connectedness, reducing overwhelming emotions, and self care. See:

2) Caring for Caregivers

Many neighbourhoods have gone to their windows to applaud caregivers at eight 0’clock each evening. The Alzheimer’s Association has taken this a step further by equipping their caregivers with the information and skills needed in their particular context – where their patients may not be fully aware of the precautions necessary to mitigate corona risks. As you think about your members, what is the message and necessary behavior that is needed for them right now? Have a look at how they adapted their message for their members at

3) Members Supporting Members

Faced with simultaneous event cancellations and a wave of Virtual Facilitation requests, members of the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) turned to each other for support. With daily zoom calls attracting 50 people each, groups worked through their challenges together in breakout rooms on client communications, revenue loss, event transformation and how to best make a difference. As IAF’s chair, Vinay Kumar, wrote to their members “this is the time to reach out to your connections and make new ones” and they have facilitated this with a Virtual Facilitation Resource Page with tools and events, found at

4) Time for Learning

With more personal time for reflection, encourage your members to take advantage of learning opportunities. Suddenly confronted with home-schooling, we all need activities that keep our kids engaged. Homeschool Ideas is a collection of activities and resources to help families create an educational environment at home. And while the young ones do their things, the Center for Creative Leadership is offering free resources on adult topics like crisis leadership, virtual teams & remote work. What educational assets could your association leverage now? See: and

5) Living Your Mission 

“Medical Alley is once again demonstrating its unmatched ability to communicate, connect, and collaborate in order to address the world’s biggest healthcare challenges,” said Shaye Mandle, President and CEO of the Medical Alley Association (MAA). MAA has applied it’s raison d’etre to the corona crisis, by creating a matchmaking platform that invites all parties around the globe to use their COVID-19 Resource Connect Tool, in order to assist in ensuring no patient has to go without the life-saving resources they need due to lack of supplies and capabilities. See:

Jeffer London is a facilitator at the Center for Creative Leadership and sits on the board of the International Association of Facilitators. For insights into the facilitation of engagement, see Jeffer’s blog about stimulating conversation at

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