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Out of sight, out of mind: A no-no for associations

AS I was thinking about what to write for this week’s column, I chanced upon a short article entitled “People Forget” from “Our Daily Bread,” a 365-day devotional booklet I read first thing in the morning. It tells the story of a churchgoer who curiously asked the priest why he repeats his sermon from time to time, to which the pastor replied, “People forget.”

Interestingly, when I started to write this piece along this storyline, I remember a personal experience after I retired a year back. As a retiree, I was expecting I would receive news or updates from my former work colleagues. It did not happen and so I told myself, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

The phrase “out of sight, out of mind” simply means it is easy to forget or dismiss someone or something when you have not seen the person or thing for some time. This expression, if applied to an association in the context of its relationship with its members, would be disastrous to the organization.

On the contrary, an association needs to constantly think of, engage with, and serve its members. It cannot afford to ignore them just because they are out of sight. From the perspective of members, forgetting means the association does not care for them, a big reason members do not renew.

So how can an association always keep members in mind? Here are three suggestions:

Don’t forget your members are people whom you can relate to and ask to engage with. Despite advances in technology, an association need not lose sight on the human side of membership.

Sending personal messages; conducting surveys, focus groups, or one-on-one member interviews; spotlighting members and showcasing their work; providing volunteering opportunities; and, hosting casual, virtual get-togethers for members, e.g., themed networking, “happy hour” and virtual roundtable, are some of the ways an association can convey that it remembers its members and vice versa.

Open a two-way communication. Members want to feel they can provide feedback to their association.

From the association side, it’s one way it can validate it is being heard by its members. You’ll have a better chance of retaining your members if they feel comfortable going to your association for help or advice, as opposed to being neglected and forgotten.

Create a membership calendar. A monthly membership calendar is a useful tool, particularly if you have a dedicated community set up for your members. It keeps members abreast of new developments in the association and gives them things to look forward to in the months ahead.

When members feel outside of your community, when they don’t know what’s going on, or they’ve lost touch with why they joined the association in the first place, that’s when you start to see members opting out of membership.

An association cannot bear to lose sight and forget its members just because they are not visible and active. So the expression, “out of sight, out of mind” is a big no-no for associations.

Octavio Peralta is currently the executive director of the Global Compact Network Philippines and founder and volunteer CEO of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives, the “association of associations.” PCAAE is holding its Associations Summit 10 (AS10) on November 23 and 24, 2022. E-mail: bobby@pcaae.org.

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