Crowdsource Members to Propel Ideas and Projects Forward

The wisdom of the crowd can go to work for your association. At #ASAE19, several speakers explored how associations can use crowdsourcing to generate new ideas and opportunities for member engagement.

From the very start of the 2019 ASAE Annual Meeting & Exposition in Columbus this week, association executives were challenged to rethink how they engage with members.

One powerful tool is crowdsourcing, according to speakers in a number of #ASAE19 sessions.

“Often it’s the complex and chaotic problems that can’t be solved alone,” said Cheri Torres, a lead catalyst and senior consultant at Collaborative by Design. “What works instead is crowdsourcing, especially if it’s a problem that [association staff] don’t know how to fix.”

In a workshop on Monday, Torres and her co-presenter, Michael Feinson, president and founder of Engaged Strategies, offered up a new framework that hands idea generation and project control to members, giving them greater opportunity to engage.

They and several other speakers at the conference described how to use crowdsourcing to give members more power. Here are three takeaways:

Engage member as meeting planners. Your next meeting could have an agenda designed by members. Torres and Feinson worked with the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, a trade group that focuses on the ethics and integrity of the jewelry industry.

For one event, rather than call for speakers and session proposals in advance, they asked members a single question: How can the industry be more responsible? “It was a generative question,” Torres said. “And it created a new and compelling vision to challenge people’s thinking.” That question resulted in a two-day summit built entirely by members.

Enlist members as storytellers. Associations usually have content holes to fill, especially in new storytelling mediums. Sara Wood, CAE, is a member volunteer at Harmony, Inc., a barbershop singing association that’s experimenting with podcasting right now. In a Sunday session, she said she’s considering member crowdsourcing in almost every element of the podcast launch.

“Getting early adoption by our members means involving them throughout the process,” she said. Crowdsourcing could be used for something small, like a survey to name the podcast, or for a much bigger task. “We might actually take a lot of our show and record it at our conference because a lot of our members are there, and they’re engaged. We can pass the mic around.”

Recruit members as social influencers. Social media could be the easiest channel in which to engage members by crowdsourcing. Snapchat and Instagram have a crowdsourced story feature, and Facebook and LinkedIn have group communities where crowdsourced conversations often emerge.

In a Monday session, MCI USA Vice President Amy Lestition Burke, CAE, said highly engaged members, including board members, can use their own social media accounts to spread their association’s message and build its influence. With a little training, “they can help bring the organization to light,” she said, in a way that engages the broader membership community.

Have you used crowdsourcing for member engagement? What lessons did you learn? Post your comments below—and keep the crowdsourcing going.

(portishead1/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

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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