Your constituents are already networking socially through Facebook, with increasing frequency. This is particularly true of younger users. They are looking to your organization to provide a similar professional tool. Create a social networking site to connect members to your organization in this powerful, new way.
An online community is a valuable tool to increase participation and attract new members. The community features can be used to engage, connect, and retain your constituents. By sharing parts of your site with the general public, prospective members see your value and the benefits of joining your organization.
Allow your staff, board, members, volunteers, and donors to share info in a 24/7 environment. For many, knowledge sharing across your organization will be the most important reason to use the online community. Constituents want to collaborate, learn best practices, influence others, advance their professional careers, and so much more.
Plan for your annual conferences, meetings, and classes. One GoLightly customer tailored programming for their annual conference after reviewing online discussions among members. This organization used online feedback to develop conference topics that better reflected participant interests.
Receive direct feedback about how well you are serving your constituents’ needs by analyzing membership and participation statistics and hearing from your power users. Participation in an online community encourages all members to make their thoughts known through comments and conversations on the community site. Use these ideas to help craft your policies and activities.