Moving up the pyramid – Engagement Organizing

Once someone is introduced to your organization – perhaps they attended an event, signed up for your email, maybe even sent you a contribution – what’s your next step? If your sign-up list sits in a desk drawer until you find time to enter contact information into your database (if you have one) and then a week passes (or two or three) until you get around to emailing them a note, you’re not alone.

About thirty Rendezvous participants learned how to use the concept of Engagement Organizing to effectively move contacts ‘up the pyramid’ from introduction to becoming vested members and volunteers. Times have been changing and our ways of acquiring, communicating and engaging our members need to change as well.

According to Engagement Organizing concept founder, Matt Stroller:

“We are in the midst of a historic shift from one era of social change advocacy to another.  A world of expert-driven, direct mail oriented organizations is giving way to nimble, data-driven, learning organizations that place relationship building and mobilization of supporters at the heart of their work.”

While each organization can and will implement their membership program in different ways depending on their needs, there are a few steps that every group can implement to more effectively engage their members:

  1. Build your pyramid: think about how you are going to move people from visiting your monument once or joining a hike to becoming members, volunteers, donors or board members. Your pyramid might look something like this:

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  1. Get contact information with everyone who comes in contact with your organization. Anywhere and everywhere – get their information. Without it, you can’t stay in touch with them!
  2. Set a clear goal for engagement: Do you want to have 50 people attend an event? 30 like your FaceBook post? Set your goal so you can track your success.
  3. Make an interaction plan: What will you do when someone signs up for your email list? Think about engagement in an incremental way. What’s the next thing you’re going to ask them to do? Ideally, their first interaction will trigger a cascade of information from you. Something like: adding them to your membership list, sending a welcome email, sending information about upcoming events, asking them to join your group or give a donation.
  4. Follow up! You worked hard to get this person involved – once you have them on your radar, make sure they stay involved! That means once they’ve received your welcome information, include them in your regular communication stream over email, invitations to events and updates on your work.
  5. Track your progress. How did it go? What did you learn? Make sure you are evaluating your efforts and improving your process based on what you learn.

Our Friends Grassroots Network partner, the Friends of Cascade Siskiyou, began implementing an Engagement Organizing program this past year and is already seeing the results of their efforts. According to Board President, Terry Dickie, the group decided to “get intentional and build capacity one relationship at a time.”

In a short time, they have built a member engagement database and identified ways to build rapport and maintain relationships with their members through a recognition and reward system. Each time someone participates in their events, whether a hike and learn program, research symposium or Public Lands day celebration, the Friends of Cascade Siskiyou are implementing a cascade of communications and tracking their participation, contribution and overall engagement with their mission.

If you’re interested in learning more about Engagement Organizing, getting presenter Emma Gilchrist’s slides or finding out how your organization might incorporate Engagement Organizing into your membership program, contact Beth at beth@conservationlands.org.

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