WOM & Volunteerism

by

I just got tagged by Maddie Grant on The WOM Meme. The goal is to show how we can apply word of mouth to pretty much ANY area of association management. Maddie makes the right-on-target observation that marketing and membership actually touch everything; therefore WOM can touch everything too.

So here’s the meme: Please do a short blog post with an example of how you’ve seen WOM used in your work. Then tag a couple of [association/non-profit] people to do the same.

Volunteerism exists through WOM. WOM is in fact the #1 way members find out about volunteering. ASAE & The Center for Leadership Decision To Volunteer study proved that. In fact 51% of the survey respondents said they first learned about volunteering through a direct ask from another member or staff. The top reason they didn’t volunteer? Never asked.

It’s more than the “ask” though. People volunteer to be part of something larger – that’s true whether we’re talking about community or professional volunteering. The ASAE study referred to association volunteers are “pro-social volunteers” because they had dual motivation to make a difference for others/society and career benefits. Being part of something larger tells us that people volunteer to be around and with others. How do you choose where to volunteer? By talking with friends, colleagues, family who share their experiences and invite you to join them.

I first got involved with ASAE when a staff person asked me to present my “PR on a Shoestring” solution at a conference. She had been at association meeting where I talked about successful, yet inexpensive, tactics I used. She asked me. I said yes. Then came a follow-up ask for another task. Again I said yes. Now I’m hooked.

I’ve also been the “asker.” For another association, I reached out to a fellow member to tell her the chapter board needed someone to help welcome members. The role was chapter representative and it had a simple task list. After a conversation during which among other things she mentioned that at chapter events she had seen the interaction among board members and it looked inviting, she said sure. Now, she’s president.

The best story I’ve seen on how WOM works for association volunteerism is a conversation I had just last weekend. An ASAE member asked me how to get involved. He wanted to volunteer but not being “inside the beltway” wasn’t sure how to connect with ASAE. He felt though that being part of the volunteer community looked intriguing and interesting. He was motivated. That’s WOM in action.

So, I’m tagging these association bloggers to talk about how they see WOM in action in associations:

Thanks for playing!

Mariner Management & Marketing provides association management, volunteer coordinator and leadership development information for associations and non-profit organizations.