New Member Orientation: 16 Ideas to Engage, Connect & Inspire Your Members

When it comes to cultivating relationships with members, there’s nothing more important than making a warm first impression. The trick to getting off on the right foot? Creating an engaging new member orientation process!

It’s never too late to update how your organization handles new membership orientation. In this blog, we’ll explore:

  • The impact of a strong new membership orientation
  • How to onboard your new members effectively
  • 16 orientation ideas that will help you retain your members for the long haul

Why Does New Member Orientation Matter?

Member orientation might seem like a small blip in your member relationships, but in reality, it makes a big impact!

Building out your new member orientation program allows you to:

  • Introduce members to your organization (and its culture!). When new members join your organization, it’s important that they feel invested in your cause, resources, or opportunities. Optimize your member orientation process to show off the top qualities of your organization’s culture.
  • Give members engagement tools and opportunities. Think of new member orientation as the chance to give members an operating manual for your organization. Once someone learns how to participate in your organization, they’re more likely to get started while the benefits of engaging are still fresh in their mind.
  • Build your community from the start. Did you know that 57% of Americans are involved in one or more community organizations? From religious groups to clubs to nonprofits and more, people yearn for connections with like-minded individuals. No matter what kind of organization you run, cultivating a sense of community is key!

Recommended Resource: Want to maintain stronger connections with new and existing members? Follow this guide to successful year-round engagement! 🌟

How Do You Run New Member Orientation?

You know you need to hold an orientation, but how do you make sure all your bases are covered? There are a few steps and strategies that make it easy to onboard and welcome new members:

  • Create a new member orientation strategy. First, you’ll want to determine the specific steps, elements, and goals of your orientation. Make a list of the resources, programs, events, and key information you’d like to offer.
  • Build your onboarding toolkit. We’ll get into more detail below, but there are a few assets you’ll want to prepare before orientation kicks off! This includes things like welcome emails and packages, social media templates, and more.
  • Welcome new members with resources. Your resources will be a part of your toolkit and can include things like a benefits package, a tour of your website and mobile event app, an event calendar, and more.
  • Invite them to an event. Kicking off with a memorable new member orientation event can help quickly create positive memories with new members. Use event management software to help you organize everything from registrations to follow-up emails.
  • Offer continued engagement opportunities. Don’t be discouraged if new members aren’t highly engaged right away. If you invite them to an event and they don’t attend, it’s possible they’re too busy or the format doesn’t appeal to them. Whatever the case, reach out to see if there’s something in particular they’d like to see from your organization–and don’t stop inviting them to events and engagement opportunities!
  • Consistently follow up. Asking for feedback is the best way to improve your member experience. Whether you give members a chance to rave about a great experience or offer feedback on a change they’d like to see, all information is good information when it comes from your members.

5 Things to Include in Your New Members Orientation Toolkit

Remember that onboarding toolkit mentioned above? Here are five top elements to include as you onboard your new members!

Welcome email

According to the 2022 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, 79% of associations use welcome emails in their onboarding. This tried and true method is a quick way to say thank you and offer immediate member engagement opportunities. Sending a new member orientation email within the first 24 hours keeps you front of mind!

Member swag

If you want to include some special swag for new members, explore ideas that are relevant to your specific organization. 

Here are a few swag ideas for different membership organizations:

  • A literary event could have a branded tote bag for books
  • A golf club could offer a set of balls with the club logo
  • A professional association could offer fountain pens
  • An animal rescue nonprofit could provide a calendar with cute animal pictures

Welcome video

Looking to add something special to your welcome package? A thank you video from your staff, board, or beneficiaries is a clear way to express your gratitude. Adding a personal touch is key to member appreciation, as it shows new members that you see them as a valuable part of your community.

A welcome video also provides an opportunity for you to offer a quick virtual tour of your member website! This strategy is great for visual learners and can help your members stay engaged.

Welcome package

Think of this as a one-stop shop for everything your new members might need. Your welcome package can be sent either by email or physical mail—you can even ask members for their preference in their registration application.

This package should include:

  • A thank you letter
  • A report on your organization’s impact
  • Comprehensive information about your member benefits
  • Details of your programs
  • An upcoming events calendar
  • A point of contact if they have any questions

Newsletter & social media shout-out

One major part of developing an association marketing strategy is to market across all your channels. Social media shout-outs make new members feel appreciated and introduce prospective members to the peers and colleagues they could connect with!

Similarly, welcoming new members in your monthly newsletter helps existing members get to know your latest recruits, forming connections between new and longtime members.

3 Ideas for New Member Orientation Programs

Building new member orientation programs that foster relationships between members is the first step in growing your year-round community. A member orientation program creates a structured way for new members to stay engaged beyond a single event. 

Here are three ideas to get you started!

Mentorship program

If you’re running a professional association, setting up a mentorship program for new members can help you:

  • Free you up from teaching new members the basics
  • Emphasize the value of long-time members’ knowledge
  • Create networking opportunities for new members
  • Encourage new relationships among members
  • Foster a culture of mentorship
  • Empower your organization’s future leaders

A mentorship program is a win-win—you get to involve your long-time members while engaging new members through your organization!

Buddy program

It can be intimidating for new members to dive straight into participating in your organization. A buddy program helps integrate new members through 1:1 connections that inspire collaboration and curiosity. Buddies can try new activities together, or have a friendly face to attend organization events with.

If you’re running a nonprofit, you could even use this system to create small teams for a competitive fundraising event!

Member matchmaking event

Set up a questionnaire for new members to fill out, then host an event where “matched” members can get to know one another. By identifying a few similarities up front, you can help members break the ice without anxiety. This type of program does require a bit more work upfront, but it’s worth the connections it inspires!

8 New Member Orientation Event Ideas

There are loads of strategies for running a great new membership orientation, but nothing works quite as well as an event! These eight event ideas can help you engage new members and make a strong first impression.


Who doesn’t enjoy connecting over a warm meal? A welcome breakfast is a casual way to bring new members together and introduce them to your organization–and each other–over coffee! Unlike a happy hour, it also removes alcohol from the equation for members who prefer not to drink.

Community service event

No matter what type of organization you run, community service events are a great way to make an impact on a local level. Once again, community is a huge motivating factor for member engagement—your members will be grateful for an opportunity to make a difference.

Try hosting community service events like:

  • Trash clean-ups
  • Food drives
  • Toy drives
  • Charity bake sales
  • Clothing swaps

If you can make your event relevant to your organization, that’s even better! For example, a literary organization could host a book drive for kids or a medical association could do a drive for personal hygiene products.

Park event

When the gorgeous weather hits, it’s always a treat to get outside! Holding a new member orientation event in a local park on a beautiful day offers the dual benefit of getting your members out in the sunshine and increasing visibility for your org–perhaps even sparking interest in a passerby.

Before you host your outdoor event, consider:

  • The weather
  • Availability of bathrooms
  • Hydration stations
  • Local permits
  • Accessibility

Speed networking event

Considering that 85% of all jobs are filled through networking, it’s no wonder most people join associations to meet fellow members of their industry. You can help form new member connections fast with speed networking events—and then follow up with galas for more formal engagement.

Running these small events regularly will help your members consistently broaden their reach while also getting to connect with their new contacts!

Virtual event

Whether due to ability, distance, or personal preference, it’s unlikely that every new member will come out to in-person events. Luckily, virtual new member orientation events come with their own perks!

Going virtual for orientations, workshops, and networking events can:

  • Expand your association’s reach all over the world
  • Give your introverted members more breathing room
  • Make it easy for members to exchange information
  • Save on event costs
  • And more!

Facilities tour

If your organization operates out of a physical location, consider inviting new members to take a tour. This offers a glimpse into how things work behind the scenes and allows new members to get to know your organization. Members can meet your staff, get an eye on the projects that are in the works, and gain a sense of the reality of your day-to-day work.

When members only know your organization based on your emails, it’s easy for you to feel less real to them. A guided tour through your facilities creates the image they’ll see when you pop up in the inbox—and hopefully, inspire personal investment in your success!

Quiz or trivia night

One of the fastest (and most exciting!) ways to engage new members is to encourage some healthy competition. Even the most reserved members can be motivated to participate when there’s a prize (or pride) at stake. And with the help of gamification tools, hosting a trivia event is easier than ever!

Add some fun to your new member orientation with:

  • Leaderboards for event participation
  • A trivia night at the local pub
  • Polls and quizzes at virtual events
  • Team-building competitions
  • Special prizes for winners

Even something as simple as a quick quiz at the end of your orientation session can put a smile on your members’ faces. 

Sports event

Hosting a sports game or tournament is a fun way for members to get to know one another and build a sense of camaraderie. Here are some ideas you can incorporate into your new member orientation (and bring back as an annual event with existing members!):

  • 5K fun run or color run
  • Golf tournament (or mini golf!)
  • Canoe race
  • Volleyball tournament
  • Dance off
  • Barbecue and cornhole tournament

How Event Software Helps with New Member Orientation

Now that we’ve explored different event ideas for new member orientation (not to mention programs and strategies to improve onboarding and retention!), let’s talk logistics. Organizing events for your association is a huge task–but the right event management software helps you pull it off every time. 

From new member welcome events to networking meetups to annual conferences, event management software provides membership organizations with:

  • Straightforward registration and check-in tools for attendees
  • A top-of-the-line mobile event app 
  • Virtual, hybrid, and in person event solutions
  • Networking tools to foster your year-round member community
  • Gamification and live polls to encourage engagement and play
  • Behind-the-scenes customer support for your team

EventMobi has the tools to support your new members’ orientation from planning through execution—and beyond! Connect with our team today to learn more about how you can turn new members into advocates through high-impact events.

Turn Your Newest Members into Your Top Supporters

New members join your organization for a reason: they’re interested in and excited about what your association has to offer. Whenever someone new joins, it’s up to you to maintain the momentum!

Welcome new members, encourage participation, and reassure them that they’re a valued member of your community. As you build out and troubleshoot your new membership orientation toolkit, programs, and events, you’ll continue to learn what turns people into lifetime members.

Ready to take your member engagement to the next level with incredible events? Watch these 8 videos to see what EventMobi can help you achieve!