Members are the heart of any membership-based organization. Their ongoing commitment is what builds community and brings in dues as a key form of revenue—so it only makes sense to show member appreciation!
From events to perks to special resources, here are 15 unique member appreciation ideas to show gratitude and drive meaningful results for your organization.
Why Does Member Appreciation Matter?
Showing member appreciation isn’t just an act of kindness—it’s also a business strategy.
Putting dedicated effort into recognizing your members helps with:
High member retention rates are what keep you from having to constantly seek out a fresh membership base. On average, members have a 50% retention rate in their first year, which jumps to 80% in year two and then keeps growing! Leading with appreciation secures your future long-term cheerleaders.
When your event is over, building year-round community will bring in ongoing revenue and increase overall engagement. Member appreciation ideas that bring people together don’t just make people feel good about your organization—they also inspire a deeper desire to connect.
Staff, volunteers, and board members play an enormous role in keeping your organization operating. When you get in the habit of saying thank you to members, it becomes natural to say thank you to colleagues. Considering that over 80% of employees say they work harder when their manager appreciates their work, that organizational culture bodes well for your future!
4 Ways To Show Member Appreciation
Member appreciation ideas will typically fall into 4 categories:
In person member appreciation events
Holding in person events like a member appreciation day both creates positive memories for members and boosts engagement! According to the Naylor 2022 Association Benchmarking Report, 74% of associations consider event attendance to be the best measurement of member engagement.
Valuable in person member appreciation events:
- Show members why they matter
- Connect members with one another
- Are personalized to members’ wants and needs
- Establish a hub of community
In person events give you an opportunity to put a face to your organization and engage members one-on-one. The space you curate represents the energy of your organization, and makes membership value feel more tangible!
Virtual member recognition ideas
While in person events generate a live, energetic atmosphere, virtual events and member appreciation ideas:
- Bridge physical distance between members
- Let members engage with content at their own pace
- Can be easily advertised to prospective members
- Typically cost less time and money
Take a member appreciation week as an example. While a full week of in person events would require a lot of resources, it’s much less complicated to schedule social media shout outs, webinars, and virtual games in close succession.
Gifts & perks
Some members get excited about receiving special goodies like:
- Branded swag & merch
- Partner products
- Discounts on events
- Early bird tickets
- Gift cards
All member appreciation gifts should be relevant to your members’ interests and tie back to your organization. For example, members of a writer’s union might appreciate receiving book bags full of titles from sponsors!
Giving out these gifts and perks on special anniversaries is one way to use them as a targeted member appreciation strategy. However, if it’s within your budget, offering a discount code as a way to say thanks can also be a pleasant surprise—especially in the months leading up to renewal.
Resources & opportunities
If you run an organization like an association, members will especially appreciate receiving exclusive resources and opportunities like:
- Credible certifications and milestones
- Discounted mentorship programs
- Professional development events
- Organization/member spotlights
For example, running a special feature in your newsletter featuring the accomplishments of long-time members shows that you believe they are valuable to your organization. Plus, giving your members some time in the spotlight fosters your organization’s community spirit!
Recommended Resource: Looking for a strategy to engage and appreciate your event attendees? Check out our guide to year-round engagement! 🤝
15 Virtual & In Person Member Appreciation Ideas
Ready to show your members your gratitude? Here are 15 virtual and in person member appreciation ideas to get your gears turning:
Member appreciation day or week
A member week or day should include multiple components of member recognition and celebration, such as:
- Virtual or in person events
- Social media campaigns
- Giveaways and prizes
- Games and competitions
- Awards ceremonies
If you want to take a hybrid approach, you could include one in person member appreciation day during your members week. This can help activate your local community while engaging members on a broader level!
Facilitating connections between emerging professionals and established mentors is how you create longevity in your industry and community.
Take the Association of Canadian Archivists (ACA) Mentorship Program for example. By doing the work to pair mentees with compatible mentors, they show recognition for their members’ unique needs and appreciation for what they have to offer.
Similar to mentorship programs, educational resources show your members that they’re important to your community, and that your organization wants to invest in their presence and development.
These resources could include:
- Exclusive webinars
- Discounted workshops
- Online resource libraries
- Professional certifications
- Personal critiques
As your members level up in their industry knowledge, send out some congratulatory messages and encouragements. A learning streak is well worth celebrating!
Member of the month
Announcing a Member of the Month in your newsletter and on social media is a personal way to show member appreciation. Including a small prize alongside the title adds extra value to the program.
You can choose this member based on criteria like:
- Participation in discussion boards
- Number of referrals they’ve brought in
- Notable accomplishments in your community
For the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ Member of the Month program, members send in applications to be featured. If your organization has a larger membership program, this strategy saves time searching out monthly candidates!
Socials shout outs
Give your members a shout out on social media for their:
- Membership anniversaries
- Weddings, birthdays, and baby announcements
- Career milestones
- Volunteer support
- Acts of kindness
- Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns
Making someone feel appreciated often comes down to being specific and personal. Noting and celebrating these details in members’ lives (with their consent!) shows that they’re more than just numbers to you.
If you learn that one of your members has a business, program, or initiative that aligns with your organization’s values, inviting them into a partnership is a great way to show member appreciation.
Signing onto a partnership:
- Boosts both organizations’ visibility
- Shows members you value their work
- Expands your networks
- Strengthens your bonds
Check out Community Tool Box’s toolkit for creating and maintaining partnerships between different organizations.
In a world of spam emails, it’s always exciting to find a little gift in the inbox!
Some gift-centered member appreciation ideas include:
- Personal playlists
- Free ebooks
- Audiobook credits
- Gift cards (especially for partner businesses!)
- Discounts on products and events
According to one survey, 63% of customers think businesses should show their appreciation by offering discounts to loyal customers. Whether or not you’re running a for-profit business, the sentiment stands—people love an opportunity to save money!
Appreciation videos from staff members, board members, and volunteers is a member appreciation idea that keeps things personal. If you have the budget, getting a Cameo from a supportive celebrity can add an element of surprise and delight to your videos!
In general, adding video into your event strategy helps to deliver content in a fresh way while driving excitement. Plus, it’s a way to put faces to names in your organization and demystify who’s working behind-the-scenes.
Why not turn someone’s birthday into a member appreciation day?
This could include:
- Birthday emails with digital perks attached
- Handwritten birthday cards
- A birthday video
- Coupons or a free gift voucher from a partner business
- Free mentoring session
- Social media shout out
Perks don’t have to be complicated or expensive—automating birthday emails with attached gift card codes is plenty effective when your resources are stretched thin.
Bringing your members together for a community outing offers them an easy opportunity to connect with one another. Offering free or affordable activities and events is a great way to show appreciation while encouraging participation.
Some community outing ideas include:
- Volunteer day
- Community clean up
- Outdoor movie night
- Neighborhood bike ride
- Attending a sports game
- Park event
- Pub crawl
Want to know some key factors to keep in mind? Check out our post on planning an outdoor event, which includes weather and accessibility considerations.
Lots of people appreciate the opportunity to get a little luxurious—and a gala allows you to do just that! Holding a formal event in a classy venue tells your members that you think they’re worth some extra extravagance.
Galas are also an opportunity to incorporate other member recognition ideas, such as:
- Thank you speeches
- Auctions with partner gifts or member art
- Awards ceremonies
- Special gift favors
This sort of member appreciation event will come with a higher start up cost, which also makes it an opportunity to connect with sponsors.
Did you know it can be 7 to 10 times more costly to attract new members rather than retain existing ones? Delivering a strong welcome from the moment of sign up shows members that appreciation is a priority of yours, and ups your chances of keeping those new members.
These welcome gifts could look like:
- Discounted or free tickets to your next paid event
- Free mentorship sessions
- Branded swag
- Personalized thank you cards or videos
- Gift cards
- Free ebooks
These gifts also do best when they come with a thorough welcome packet that teaches members how to access all of their benefits. Give your new members a one-stop shop for all their membership perks!
What’s truly better for an organization than referrals? Having members talk up your organization to friends and colleagues is an organic way to build an event community. While many members will feel inspired to chat away, a set referral program gives them extra incentive.
This program can come with perks like:
- A free month of membership for every referral
- Points towards a “Member of the Month” prize
- Special gift swag
If you’ve got a referral all star, show some member appreciation by inviting them to be on a committee. Not only will this give you a valuable resource, but it’ll also emphasize how important you find their contributions to your community.
Merch for long time members
Some of the best membership appreciation ideas come with physical milestone gifts. Give your members something to cherish after years of membership!
Award special merch to members who have:
- Attended a certain number of events
- Been members for a certain number of years
- Donated a specific amount to your organization
- Volunteered a large amount of hours
Conduct surveys & connect with members
Gifts, events, and resources are a great way to show appreciation—but often, members simply want to know that they are being listened to.
If you don’t currently have the budget to invest into complex member appreciation ideas, it is more than enough to:
- Send out post event surveys
- Hold feedback sessions
- Invite members to planning sessions
- Post polls on social media
Asking members what they want, and then giving it to them whenever possible, is the most authentic way to show you appreciate their voice.
Recognition & Gratitude in Member Relationships
Member retention largely comes down to value. When people feel like their membership is valuable and that they are valued by the organization, they’re more likely to stick around! With member appreciation strategies in place, you can build the genuine relationships that help your organization thrive as a community.
Interested in learning more about EventMobi? Book your personalized demo of EventMobi’s Event Management Software platform today!