Membership Hack: Repeat Advocates

To get members coming back year after year for its annual advocacy day, SHAPE America awards long-time attendees and offers scholarship incentives.

How to hack it? SHAPE America’s roughly 15,000 members, mostly physical education and health teachers, are often strapped for time and resources. So it can be difficult to get members to attend its annual advocacy day—Speak Out! Day—in Washington, DC.

To improve participation, SHAPE America started to recognize and incentivize repeat advocates, says Senior Manager Carly Wright. The organization budgets for annual scholarships to help offset travel costs for member advocates, and this year, to mark Speak Out! Day’s 10th anniversary, it recognized four members who have attended the event each year with an award.

Why does it work? A little recognition goes a long way. In the last decade, advocacy day attendance has more than doubled, Wright says. This year, 215 members from 45 states participated. “Those members show an amazing commitment, and it’s something we are trying to highlight and recognize,” Wright says. “Their work really does matter. We were able to get health and physical education recognized by federal law for the first time ever. And our advocates will continue to fight to make sure that there’s adequate funding for health and physical education.”

What’s the bonus? Wright says those repeat advocates can be counted on in the future as highly engaged members. “We’re always looking to grow this event and our network of advocates,” she says. “This is a great way to identify new members as leaders. We have found leaders who are now serving on one of our program councils or the board. We even have had a few members who decided to run for public office in their own state.”

A highlight from SHAPE America's 2017 Speak Out! Day. (via Facebook)

Tim Ebner

By Tim Ebner

Tim Ebner is a senior editor for Associations Now. He covers membership, leadership, and governance issues. Email him with story ideas or news tips. MORE

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