How Should You Be Engaging with Members During COVID-19?
Most Commonly Asked Question: What should we do about invoicing and renewals?
Finding our organizations and lives turned upside down in the middle of a worldwide pandemic is nothing any of us could have planned for. It’s okay that we didn’t see this coming and that we didn’t have a perfect roadmap already in place for how we should respond. Now is the time for us to put our heads together and develop strategies to help members and, in turn, help your organization. How we react now to this crisis will define how we are able to move forward with recovery.
During the first two weeks of impact, I worked with a little over 1,300 chamber executives and staff members to help prioritize how you should be engaging with members during COVID-19. 16 state CCEs and CCEC (Canada), provided this webinar to their members and the feedback was tremendous!
To continue this conversation and provide further resources, I am creating a series of articles on impacting member engagement and growth during this pandemic and will wrap up the series by introducing new sessions and articles on recovery for our organizations.
What To Do About Invoicing & Renewals
The most common question I’ve been asked since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic is about invoicing and renewals. The answer will be shaped largely by your organization culture, brand, financial health, community, and members. Here are a few tips to help guide you as you make the decision that is right for your membership and chamber or organization.
Determine with your board whether you will invoice members during the pandemic.
I support invoicing during this time. You may choose to send in 2-3 batches with different messaging for each, based on industry and member financial abilities. You may also want to find ways to reach out personally prior to sending an invoice or renewal reminders, to make sure that each member feels supported and their situation acknowledged.
Your messaging must reflect investment and recovery.
Our messaging matters now more than ever. Make sure to acknowledge the situation we are in and reflect empathy and options. As an example:
“Now more than ever, we are here to be your voice, represent our businesses, sustain business, be a part of a robust plan for recovery.”
“As we move forward building strategic plans for our community’s recovery, we need your voice, your investment to move us forward.” In this example, notice the use of the messaging of investment, which takes us beyond simply “joining”.
Be prepared for conversations on deferred payment, leniency, grace periods, and how to help the member stay a member.
We know that members need support more now than ever. This means that they will need your organization to help seem them through this crisis. Be prepared with creative ideas to offer empathy and grace to make sure that you don’t lose a member who wants to remain a part of your organization.
Focus on each membership on a case-by-case basis. Keep a relational and individual approach.
It cannot be said too often that we are all in this together. Though, it’s important to also acknowledge that each member may be going through different variations or stages of this crisis. We want to make sure they each feel seen and heard, so make sure to focus on each membership individually.
People want a connection, so pick the phone up and talk!
What people may need most right now is a simple connection, a caring voice on the other end of the line. Your doors may be closed, but your organization is still open! You are still working tirelessly for your members, keeping your chamber and organization financially healthy during this time is a struggle for many. We can’t change postponed events and the loss of income, but we can impact member revenue with strategic invoicing and messages of support to retain those most vulnerable members.
Shari Pash is the founder of Strategic Solutions for Growth, a training company headquartered in Grand Rapids, MI. Shari works with Chambers of Commerce, non-profit organizations, and associations in 27 states and throughout Canada. Connect with Shari to learn more about how she can help your organization.