Contrary to human nature (and the current climate of pandemic panic), now is not the time to constrict; now is your opportunity to step up and be relevant to your community members.

Whatever you did to prove relevance and value to your constituents a month ago has changed. It’s what you do next that will matter the most for your future.

A colleague sent a fantastic email to his members. He established his association as foundational and supportive, providing access to information and tools that will help members deal with the challenges of the day. The content of the email was well written, the resources provided were spot on, but the best part of the email came at the end:

“Because this is what associations do. This is working together for the common good.”

Easy to say. Hard to do, unless you step outside your past and recognize that your members have different needs and challenges than what brought them to you in the first place.

You need all the tools in your toolbox, and you need to make this a priority today:

  • Active listening. Do you know what is keeping them up at night? What do they need today that is different from what they needed/wanted from you last month? And is it within your capabilities to meet the new needs?
  • Examine how and what you are communicating. Are you sending tone-deaf messages? Automation is a beautiful thing, but if you’re sending messages that were written for a different time and place, you risk looking like you live under a rock.
  • Talk to your front-line team. What are they hearing? Have the types of calls changed, and does your team know how to respond?
  • How creative are you prepared to be? Can you get highly promotional with multi-year offers? Change your acquisition threshold to bring more people in to access the support you can provide?
  • Are you nimble? Or are you stuck in cement?

Imagine yourself as a member. Their days have changed. Unless they are in healthcare or first responders, it’s quite likely they aren’t commuting to an office every day, and their days have a completely different structure.

But they are still human beings.

If your community is interest-based, your members’ passions haven’t changed. In fact, if they are working from home they have MORE time to pursue those passions. Now is the perfect time to catch up on past issues of the magazine, or watch some how-to videos, or share tips with other members in your social channels. Encourage them to plan, dream and DO. Give them permission to turn away from the nightly news and think about what makes them feel personally fulfilled.

Be supportive, be relevant, be accomodating. In other words, be a good human, in the vessel of the community.

This time will pass, and no one knows what we’ll all look like on the other side of this beast. But you’ll be remembered for how your organization responded, and rewarded for being relevant and empathetic.

Now is NOT the time to worry about the numbers. It’s the time to think about the people who make up those numbers, and what you can do to support them. The numbers will follow your actions.