We’ve all said it: “So for the next meeting, bring back 5 ideas…”
Basically, you just gave your members homework.
So will that work? Can you get the results you are looking for?
Sure, you had a reason for asking. You NEED those ideas, plus it is probably your way of making your members feel engaged and like they are needed and participating all the time. Those are definitely good things, and strategies we encourage you to share all the time. But assigning homework, even if it’s something as simple as a 20 minute think in the car or the shower, could backfire.
First of all, they might not even do it and come back to the next meeting empty handed. And maybe even embarrassed at forgetting ir blowing off the "assignment" when you ask.
Second, some of your members are already in a delicate balance of time and their routines are well established. Sometimes asking something as simple as a simple brainstorm is the straw that breaks the camel’s back… and the camel here is their committed membership. When a member throws up their hands and says, “I don’t have time for this!” you not only lose your 5 ideas, but also their participation and dues.
A better method to do is ask for volunteers to contribute ideas for the next meeting. That way you don’t sound you assume everyone in participation at the current meeting will be able to make the next one. You also could create a group mentality; you have a few volunteers, answered with praise and appreciation, and you’re likely to pick up a few more.
You could even go so far as to use your “assignment” as an opportunity for some smaller group collaboration. Encourage your volunteers to collaborate and communicate through your AMS or through E-mail groups.
Or if you’re short of volunteers, ask your committee heads and board to help you out. They may not be on the payroll but they do have more investment in your association and are more likely to be able to squeeze your task into their schedules.
Also, try to spread the love with the leadership. Empower active members to consult friends and coworkers, even if they aren’t in the association. This could break out of routine and pattern thinking and “the same old” and even bring in some new members.
Finally, remember that you’re probably being paid to think about your association 24/7. Unfortunately that’s not true for your members. Any ask is a big ask for them, and you have to constantly show them the benefit. No wonder small staff associations need some help!
An AMS could do the trick, but what is an AMS exactly?