Some People Just Don’t Want to Engage

Donna Dunn

Is it really the end goal to have everyone in your association “engaged” beyond just paying dues and receiving emails? Of course, we all know that members who participate in some way are more likely to renew, at least statistically. But we need to acknowledge that sometimes those un-engaged members actually pay part of the bills. Remember the term “mailboxers?” We use their membership dues, even when their entire interaction is receiving emails and a journal or two. Do we say “you’re not engaged, so we don’t care about you?”

Sometimes we don’t have the capacity to handle increased levels of member engagement across the board. Sometimes increasing member participation changes the experience for the members who like things the way they are. Sometimes we need to just accept that some folks choose to stay connected by membership, but not engaged through participation.

If you have a membership of 120,000, just how much “engagement” can you handle? If your meeting usually has 5,000 and your membership is 20,000, what changes in the experience with a meeting of 18,000?

There’s nothing wrong with mailboxers who are consistent in their choice to interact with the association at that level. And we need to recognize when to respect that choice.

We should, however, pay attention when someone who has participated drops off or when the relatively new member goes away. But people also engage differently throughout their membership and it may be something personal in their lives and not something the association can address.

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About the Author

Donna Dunn

Donna Dunn, CAE has more than 25 years of association leadership experience, including her role as CEO of the Association of YMCA Professionals. Donna's personal mission is to make sure people have what they need to be the best they can be.