There’s a level of exclusivity and camaraderie between association members in that they all have one thing in common that the average person may not have. A career in pharmaceuticals, for example, or a burning passion for joggingis enough to form an association. Perhaps everyone in the association is a woman in the coffee business. It’s these unique characteristics that bring groups together in the first place and that we celebrate in the association world.
But keeping in mind that it’s a specific segment of the population that led to your association’s creation, how do you expand diversity to include everyone, or at least be inviting enough to everyone will want to support you?
Suggestion one: send out specific invitations
Say you have an event coming up that’s wide open, but you only have members registered. Send out specific invitations to similar groups that have different demographics. For example, if your association targets hospital workers, why not invite pharmacists or patient advocate groups? Not only is it unique networking for your association members, but it will help fill out attendance and create buzz about your event and association.
Suggestion two: hold crowd-pleaser events
If the community sees you holding events to benefit the whole community that offer a day/night out or service (such a resume writing workshops or donation drives) they will embrace your association. Think outside the box with your events. If you can afford it, open up to the community!
Suggestion three: book a variety of speakers
Speakers and panels are a great way to spread expert information to your members, but what about other people? Are there any speakers in your contact list who could speak to not only your group, but other groups in the area? The benefit here is that those other groups could possibly help absorb some of the costs, or have ideas for venues and catering.
Remember that encouraging diversity isn’t necessarily about recruitment; it’s about getting more people on your association’s “team.” Although the people you are reaching with diversity efforts may not quite fit with your membership, they could be your next donor or introduce you to your next membership chair!