The Magic of Having Members at Engagement Events

The Magic of Having Members at Engagement Events


18 June 2024


By David Allen, Development for Conservation


At some point during your next organizational event, imagine yourself being between 45 and 60-years-old. You Gen-Xers out there won’t have trouble with this. Now wrap yourself in a cloak of objectivity and look around the event.

Characterize it. Is it diverse or homogenous? Old? Young? Multigenerational? Welcoming? Energetic? Staid?

Do you see people who look like you? That is, the 45-60-year-old you.

Are you attracted to this group? Feel like you belong here? Do you see people you know?


If the answer is Yes, good. If you are a member now, you will be encouraged to renew your membership. It’s fun. Rewarding. Feels good to be part of something.

If you are not a member now, you may be encouraged to join. At least I would hope you would be encouraged to join. That is – IF –  someone encouraged you to join.


The thing is, newcomers may be encouraged to join ONLY if they actually know about joining.


  • The Conservancy is supported by members,
  • Membership donations fuel the conservation work,
  • Membership donations fuel the education work,
  • Membership donations fuel the fun,
  • Membership is fun and rewarding,
  • Feels good to be a part of something,
  • You should be a member, too!


Does someone need to stand up and say all that?


But the messaging can also be a bit more subtle.


Remember the Dr. Seuss story about the Sneetches?

Now, the Star-Belly Sneetches had bellies with stars. The Plain-Belly Sneetches had none upon thars.


At every event, however large or small, you could ask people if they are members at check-in. If they say Yes, you could hand them a logo sticker and ask them to wear it on their clothing during the event. The sticker might be 3-inch round with the word “member” printed on it. (It doesn’t need to be a star and they don’t need to wear it on their bellies.)

If someone says No, you could hand them a membership brochure and tell them how easy it is – and how important it is – to join.

You could encourage them.


Then the magic happens. Members look around and see other members. They reinforce each other’s decision to give and join. Like noticing how many other people are driving the same model car you just bought. Everyone else driving around in the same model reinforces your decision to buy that car.

Non-members are looking around, too. They see all those people with stars on their bellies – ah, er – stickers on their clothing, and think they should probably consider supporting the Conservancy through membership as well. Maybe they even see people they know. And look how easy it is!


Of course, it would help if someone did stand up and pitch membership as these events.

This project, program, success story, event, evening, or whatever was made possible in part because of the hundreds of members who support the Conservancy every year. If you are a current member – thank you so much. If you are not, please consider helping make the next project, program, success story, event, evening, or whatever possible by joining the Conservancy today.


I started this by imagining being 45-60 years old – a GenXer. I did that on purpose. The truth is that GenX should be your target demographic. If your organization looks or feels substantially older or younger than GenX, then GenX will find somewhere else to go. They won’t see people who look like them. They won’t be attracted, feel like they belong, or see people they know.

No magic.


I would encourage you to track all this, of course. Don’t settle for simply counting how many people participate in engagement events each year.

Track how many members were there at each event. Track the percentage of last year’s members who came to at least one engagement event this year.

And track how many non-members came. How many joined afterward?


Cheers, and have a great week!




PS: Your comments on these posts are welcomed and warmly requested. If you have not posted a comment before, or if you are using a new email address, please know that there may be a delay in seeing your posted comment. That’s my SPAM defense at work. I approve all comments as soon as I am able during the day.


Photo by David Clode courtesy Pixabay

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