Board Members Can Impact Member Engagement at Events
Effective member engagement is critical to the success of any nonprofit association. Although this is widely accepted, some boards of directors are more attuned to its significance than others. Furthermore, some of the most successful organizations have board members that view member engagement goals related to events as more than just an organizational responsibility. Instead, they personally contribute. Here’s how:
  • Take advantage of meet-and-greet opportunities – Most events, especially annual conferences, offer welcome and closing receptions. Capitalize of these opportunities and have your board greet attendees as they enter the space. The more often board members are visible from the floor versus the podium, the more approachable the board will become. Many organizations have found success by placing their board members stay near the registration area to network with attendees after they check in. This effort sets an upbeat tone the moment attendees start their on-site experience.
  • Contribute to first-time attendee functions – First-time attendee events — orientation sessions, breakfast receptions — are not new. They are great for encouraging networking and relationship building. However, boards are missing out if they are not involved. Furthermore, it is important for board members to be active participants, not just present. Board members should share stories about their past experiences and offer advice to help newcomers maximize their time on-site.
  • Seek out new attendees and members – Attendees should have special name badges that easily identify them as first-time attendees or new members. Board members should be on the lookout for these badges and initiate a conversation each time they encounter someone new to the event or organization. This is a great way to help make newcomers feel welcome. It also helps validate their decision to join the association and/or attend the event.
  • The headquarters booth is not just for staff – Consider having board members manage (or at least help manage) the headquarters booth in the exhibit hall. Having board members on the floor has multiple benefits. They can share their experiences and explain how they receive value from the organization’s portfolio of member benefits. This approach can sometimes be more successful than having staff explain what member benefits are available and how they work.
There are few better opportunities to engage members than at events. By having your board members help make this happen, you can increase attendee satisfaction, make them feel more welcome and increase the likeliness they will renew their memberships and register for the event again the following year.


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Board Forward is published 10 times a year by SmithBucklin, the association management and services company more organizations turn to than any other. SmithBucklin has served volunteer board members for 70 years.


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