Engaging Your Members Over the Summer

Student Org Leader: “I cannot find anyone to work the welcome week org fair. I think we need to cancel our table.”

Advisor: “Oh really, what happened?”

Student Org Leader: “I don’t know. When we finished the spring semester, we had such a big group and now that we are back, it seems like a lot of folks aren’t interested.”

Advisor: “Hmm, that’s strange. Well, what did you do to engage them this summer?”

Student Org Leader: “Oh, um…” *insert cricket noise*

This conversation is happens too often. We finish the spring strong and coast into summer break and comefall, we see a big drop-off of members. Why is that? Well, for over two months, we thought our group could just go on pause. But a pause from structured events and meetings does not mean the sense of community and belonging has to, as well. It is why people joined our organiztions to begin with and let’s be honest, few relationships work out after a break. So, then it should not be a surprise folks aren’t interested in volunteering or attending meetings for a group they do not feel connected to anymore.

Engaging your members over the summer is a vital and often the most overlooked retention technique. Even the simplest things will keep your members connected and more eager to return in the fall.

Here’s how to to engage your members now:

(and guess what, many double as recruitment tactics)

Host a virtual game night – We got good at Zoom and Google Hangout recently and learned a lot of ways to interact and collaborate. Schedule a series of virtual game or themed trivia nights utilizing tools like Kahoot. Make it more fun with by creating teams having members wear specific colors from their closet, encouraging people to bring their favorite snack, or use roommates and family as lifelines for tough questions.
Utilize social media to showcase members – Your social media should not go on pause over the summer too. Remember, we are always recruiting. Here’s how to utilize your Instagram and TikTok to keep current members engaged and spark interest from potential new members:
Create a spotlight series – have some members with awesome internships or jobs or going on great adventures this summer? Have them record a day in the life or get ready with me for your Reels or TikTok.
Host an Instagram Live – Have an officer moderate an IG Live catch-up with some of your members! Members can invite their friends, use the Q&A feature to drive conversation, and will see one another. It is a great way to show off the great community your organization has fostered.
Host a retreat – Get ahead of the craziness of the fall with a retreat. Use it as an opportunity to team build, create recruitment plans, and brainstorm events. This will include more folks in the success of your organization, which will make them more likely to stick around.
Got a group chat? Plan weekly activities. – We would be lost without our GroupMe, Slack or WhatsApp! Keep the conversation going with some weekly activities. It will encourage greater participation in the chat, which is a habit that will help you come fall.
Motivational Monday – Members post an inspirational quote, video or photo to get people inspired.
TikTok Tuesday – Members share a TikTok they found helpful or meaningful.
New Music Friday – Members share the newly released music they are obsessed with. You could even create a collaborative Spotify playlist all summer long, which can become an playlist for organization events in the fall.

As you can see, many of these are easy and do not require a ton of time – so you can still take a well deserved break this summer, too. Each provides an opportunity for members to genuinely connect which helps foster that greater sense of belonging we all aim for in our organizations. Give it a try and let us know how it goes!