24 Top Association Member Engagement Strategies to Rock Retention

Member engagement is the #1 way to make sure your members recognize the value they get from your association. The best association member engagement strategies guide them to participate in the right programs and leave them feeling valued—which makes them significantly more likely to renew!

Here are 24 association member engagement strategies to explore for your organization, plus 6 tips for how to increase member engagement.

What is Member Engagement?

Member engagement refers to the active efforts an organization makes to connect and foster relationships with their members. The point of engagement is to keep your organization at the front of its members’ minds, and demonstrate the value of continuing to be a member.

According to the 2022 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, 52% of associations believe a lack of engagement is the top reason members don’t renew.

The solution? Implementing proactive member engagement strategies!

On a broad level, member engagement strategies can include:

  • In-person and virtual live events
  • Educational resources
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Member engagement software
  • Member appreciation efforts

A member engagement strategy should be measurable, and ultimately aim to increase member participation in your organization.

We’ll get into a more detailed list of member engagement ideas below!

Why Does Member Engagement Matter for Associations?

Improving member engagement is important for many organizations—but why is it so essential for associations in particular?

Investing in association member engagement strategies can help you:

  • Retain your current members. Did you know that the 2021 Association Trends Study shows that 9% of members studied lapsed because they simply forgot to renew? Member engagement keeps you front of mind!
  • Foster a sense of community. One of the most valuable parts of joining an association is connecting with like-minded individuals or organizations. Engaging members year round is how you grow a real community that members can’t find elsewhere.
  • Bring in new folks through referrals. Referrals are a sign your members trust in your association. A successful member engagement strategy broadens the networking reach of your association.
  • Boost your non-dues revenue. According to the ASAE Foundation’s Association Operating Ratio Report, membership dues make up 45.4% of revenue for trade associations, and 30% of revenue for professional associations. Engaging members with ticketed events can bring in event revenue (as well as other streams!) that makes running an association more sustainable long term.

6 Tips for Planning an Effective Association Member Engagement Strategy

As you brainstorm the best association member engagement strategies for your organization, keep these 6 tips in mind: 

1. Segment your members

Dividing your members into segments will help you target your member engagement strategy towards their individual needs and interests.

You can segment your association members by:

  • Known interests
  • Length of membership
  • Membership tier
  • Level of engagement
  • Demographic

For example, with 75% of millennials actively avoiding phone calls, connecting by phone is a member engagement strategy that might be better used for the older members of your association.

You can also vary your CTAs for each segment depending on what they’re likely to offer—long-time members are great volunteer prospects!

2. Find where your members are already most active

Build your strategy by measuring member engagement as it currently stands!

You can gather engagement data from:

  • Social media platforms
  • Event registration and attendance
  • Activity in forums and online spaces
  • Workshop attendance
  • Volunteer lists

As you run your analytics and get a larger picture of how and where your members engage, keep those segments in mind. You’ll very likely find different information from each grouping, which will help you build more targeted association member engagement strategies.

3. Strategize for the whole membership lifecycle

Member engagement isn’t a one and done thing—your association member engagement strategies should be present through the entire lifecycle of membership.

This includes building strategies for:

  • Onboarding. Member engagement should begin the moment their registration is complete. 79% of associations open with a welcome email, and 53% provide members with the opportunity to create a member profile. 
  • Renewal. Choosing when your renewal efforts begin and end, how to frame your messaging, and what marketing channel you’ll use can make all the difference in your retention rates. (Psst—82% of associations cite email as the best channel for renewals!)
  • Year round. The space in between onboarding and renewal is where the heart of membership lies. Active, consistent, and personal engagement is what builds the community your members want to be a part of.

4. Have strategies for in person and online spaces

Local extroverts might be eager to meet up at a restaurant for a networking event, but members who live on the other side of the country might not have the time or money to fly out for a conference. Strategizing for both in person and online spaces gives all members the opportunity to engage on their terms.

In person association member engagement strategies can look like galas, local volunteer opportunities, and networking meetups. For your online members, you can utilize webinars, community software, and workshops with thought leaders from all over the world.

5. Set your member engagement KPIs

Setting specific key performance indicators (KPIs) is essential to measuring the success of your member engagement activities and strategies.

Some association member engagement KPIs you can look at include:

  • Social media metrics (follows, likes, comments, mentions, shares, etc.)
  • Event registration and attendance
  • Direct web traffic
  • New member registrations
  • Referrals
  • Member engagement survey satisfaction scores

If your association is relatively new, investigate what solid member engagement metrics typically look like in your industry. This can help you set realistic KPIs and know where you stand in your broader community!

6. Use tools to track member engagement

Tracking and measuring member engagement can be made easy with the help of tools like:

  • Mobile event apps
  • Social media analytics tools
  • Web traffic reports
  • Surveys and polls
  • Email software (track clicks, opens, etc.)
  • Event registration data
  • Association management software

Depending on your strategy and KPIs, you can pick the member engagement platform that supports you best.

Let’s explore some of that software—and many more member engagement ideas—below!

Ready to build community year-roundy? With appointment booking, group discussions, and detailed reporting metrics, EventMobi’s Networking App will help your members make valuable connections—all thanks to your association.

Top 24 Association Member Engagement Strategies

Now that we’ve covered the tips for making your strategies successful, here are our top 24 association member engagement strategies:

Annual conference

Annual conferences create a regular gathering for members, and serve as a great introduction for new people. In fact, 43% of associations find that offering a conference discount is the most effective way to recruit new members.

With the help of event tech, your annual event can grow into a community that engages conference-goers year round! 


Running a gala adds an element of luxury and elegance, no matter what sort of organization you are!

Galas are also a space to engage members with:

  • Awards ceremonies
  • Sponsor and partner highlights
  • Fundraising opportunities
  • A look at what comes next

Take a look at the 21st Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation Gala—not only was it a night to remember, but it also served as a critical fundraiser to support innovative research by the organization!

Networking events

Did you know that 63% of associations believe networking is the top reason that members join? Speed networking events, happy hours, and roundtable discussions are the perfect place for members to form professional relationships, and your association can be the reason they connect.

Member appreciation events

A dedicated appreciation event helps members feel seen and included in your organization’s work!

Show your appreciation through:

  • Social media shoutouts
  • Special discounts
  • In person events
  • Exclusive webinars
  • Member awards ceremonies


Workshops give your members a hands-on way to build new skills with the help of your association. For example, the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association offers workshops for beginners and more established beekeepers. This maintains the value of membership throughout members’ growth and development in the hobby!


According to a 2021 survey from vFairs, 77.2% of people preferred virtual events because of how easy they are to attend. Webinars offer a unique educational opportunity for members all over the globe to learn from the experts in your field through live or pre-recorded content.

Post-event surveys

Post-event surveys offer direct insight into how the event was received, members’ favorite parts, and areas of improvement. 

Including a post-event survey in your event app can integrate this engagement with the rest of the event journey. Sending an email is also fine—but why not use the software that has already helped them register, set their schedules, and given them maps?

Member satisfaction surveys

58% of associations use member surveys to run these check ins, and for good reason! Checking in with members makes them feel valued, and shows you what you might need to change before renewal time.

Your member engagement survey questions can tell you:

  • What members like best about your association
  • What resources don’t feel as valuable
  • What they’d like to see more of

Conferencing software

If you run virtual conferences, workshop series, or webinars, conference software like EventMobi can provide you with:

  • Video conferencing
  • Livestream support
  • Scheduling tools
  • Personal agendas
  • Breakout rooms
  • Video libraries

Choosing the right member engagement software for your event makes all the difference in giving your members a positive experience at your events.

Learning management systems

If your association primarily engages members through educational software, learning management systems can help you:

  • Manage courses
  • Handle enrollment
  • Create assessments and quizzes
  • Set up discussion forums
  • Track student progress

Association management software

As the name suggests, association management software helps you manage your association from many angles!

It plays a part in improving member engagement through:

  • Member portals
  • Community forums
  • Event management tools
  • Reporting and analytics for your team

Online community software 

Like we mentioned, one of the most important parts of member engagement is building year-round community. When the resources are read and the events are done, community spaces are what keep members coming back to your association.

This member engagement software often includes:

  • Discussion boards and forums
  • Chat and messaging functions
  • Gamification and leaderboards
  • Member profiles

EventMobi’s Multi Event App lets members register for all of your association events in one central, easy-to-use place. Chat with our team to see how your organization can benefit!

Certificate programs

Certificate programs offer your members valuable professional development opportunities. It’s not always feasible for people to go back to school full time to learn a new skill—certificate programs fill that need and give your association an opportunity to become invaluable!

Mentorship programs

Mentorship programs pass down essential knowledge within your community and create the leaders of tomorrow. Plus, the opportunity to learn from someone 1:1 feels more personal than sitting in a seminar.

Member spotlight

Some of the best member engagement ideas come down to member appreciation! When members are doing something cool in your community, give them a shoutout in your newsletters and social media. You can even include “is there something you’d like to share with the community?” in your member engagement survey questions.

Volunteer opportunities

55% of associations invite long-time members to volunteer. When you can already expect a renewal, volunteer opportunities are a way of improving member engagement with the people who have shown their loyalty to your organization.

Association calendar

Marketing association events is a whole lot easier when you give your members a calendar to reference! Including a calendar space on your website and email newsletter will make sure members don’t miss your upcoming events. If your renewal date is the same for everyone, you can also include that in your calendar so it doesn’t sneak up on anyone.

Member newsletters

Newsletters are a great place to send updates across your membership base. This might surprise you, but some people believe that sending paper newsletters is more effective for member engagement! While it’s a pricier option, paper is a way to cut through inbox overload.

Member anniversaries

Say “happy anniversary” to your members with:

  • A memorable postcard
  • A thoughtful email
  • A small gift
  • A discount with a partner organization

If your association is still young (and you have the extra time and resources!), a personal card can also go a long way towards making early supporters feel valued.

Member birthdays

You can also apply the above ideas to member birthdays! Who doesn’t love a kind word and a little treat on a special day?

Personalized member comms

The best association member engagement strategies show members that they’re more than just a number. Engage members with personalized salutations and relevant content, and by actively seeking out feedback.

When renewal time comes, consider offering accommodations like sliding-scale rates for member hardship. This shows members that you value their presence and engagement more than their dues.

Event gamification

Don’t underestimate the power of fun as a member engagement strategy!

Engage your members with gamification tactics like:

  • Leaderboards
  • Polls
  • Puzzles
  • Quizzes
  • Scavenger hunts

You can determine which activities get the most points depending on your member engagement KPIs. For example, if your top goal is boosting social media metrics, you can offer members 3 points for a tagged photo at your event and 2 points for each platform they follow you on.


Let members share their thoughts with the power of polls. The information you gather shows you how engaged your members are, and also gives you insight into what’s on their mind! 

Polls can be used at live events, casually on social media, or on your event app.

Online competitions

A key part of the membership marketing funnel is getting your members to actively participate in your organization. Online competitions give members a place to engage creatively and show their stuff, all while giving your association great publicity.

Some online competition ideas include:

  • Photography contests (baby photos, anyone?)
  • “Caption this photo” challenges
  • Trivia contests
  • Scavenger hunts

Building Connections With Association Member Engagement

Without its members, your association would not exist. Learning more about them and adding value to their membership is how you can keep them throughout your organization’s journey!

Get in touch with the EventMobi team today to learn how we can help you hold impactful events and foster year round community spaces!