One big push vs. chipping away
In any member-engagement effort, which style of outreach is more effective: a single, major call to action or sustained, long-term repetition?
Or, if both can be useful, how do you decide which one is appropriate in any given situation?
Fundraising is a simple example to draw a contrast between the options: If your association trying to draw donations for a cause, you could post a "Donate Now" button on your website and regularly remind potential donors about the need for donations, or you could host a week-long or month-long pledge drive with a specific goal to reach (and possibly a big thermometer poster that you color in as the donations come in). Or you could do both, perhaps.
I have zero experience in development, so I wouldn't know what the best option or balance would be in the example above. Fundraising, though, is just one specific kind of member engagement, and I find that I run across this choice of methods constantly in working with member volunteers. After all, to volunteer is to donate one's time and energy, rather than one's money.
Just in my slice of association work, I seek contributions from members in the form of
- Writing articles or blog posts;
- Submitting sample documents;
- Rating and commenting on online articles;
- Commenting on this blog;
- Submitting story ideas.
Heck, even just reading an article or blog post is a contribution of one's time.
This big push vs. chip away decision can take a lot of different forms. Take our "big ideas" month theme here on Acronym last December. We could have made "big ideas" a theme throughout the year, planning one or two posts each month on that topic. In that case, though, we went with the big push, focusing nearly every blog post for a month on that topic. Given the level of member discussion online that month, the choice worked, but in retrospect, I'm not sure if we made that decision on anything more than a gut feeling.
My gut tells me, though, that a gut feeling probably isn't the best way to make the decision between a big push or chipping away when it comes to engaging members. This is a decision that any association faces, whether it's choosing between ad-hoc taskforces and standing committees or between a single-theme meeting and a series of wide-ranging conferences.
So, I'm curious what ideas you have. To our expert marketers, member engagers, and volunteer relaters out there, any guidance to share on how to balance big-push calls to action and long-term open opportunities?
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