In the first groups post, we covered how your organization can benefit from promoting the natural affiliations among your constituency (like class year, club or member chapter) to reinforce and increase engagement between your members and your organization. While that's a good start, limiting yourself to just natural affiliations can restrict the kind of engagement you hope to achieve.
So how can organizations go beyond the natural bonds to accomplish their engagement goals? How can they be a better resource for their constituents so that they stay engaged in more dynamic ways?
Organizations need to go beyond natural affiliations (like class year or chapter) for their members to become truly empowered and embrace groups for themselves.
Here are three ways you can facilitate this process:
1. Create Groups around Projects or Causes
Throughout any institution, alumni, students, and even faculty & staff are passionate about projects or causes. Some of these may be directly related to your organization or the community surrounding your organization, where others may be extended beyond the institution. Whether it's charitable work such as organizing the college's annual canned food drive, academic research or galvanizing support around a more universal cause, such as building safe schools in challenged areas, everyone "gets by with a little help from [their] friends." Why not turn your alumni platform into the gathering place to organize, delegate, and accomplish projects that your constituents also own and care about?
2. Create Business Brainstorm Groups
Students often have amazing ideas, but may not know what to do next - how can they take the idea and realize its full potential? Imagine being able to create a mechanism by which students can easily access a support system, find mentors, obtain community guidance, facilitate brainstorming sessions, and do it all in they way they choose to help them realize their dreams. With groups, this becomes a reality! Not only are business groups a great way to establish connections between current students and alumni, but they are also valuable for industry-veteran alumni to connect with each other to trade advice and brainstorm new ventures too. Talk about empowered networks giving back!
3. Create Parent/Family & Friends Groups
K-12 institutions, nonprofits and even higher-education organizations can benefit from creating a space for parents or family & friends of the member to be included in the conversation. For K-12 institutions - imagine being able to give parents a space to help plan classroom activities or fundraise for the next class trip. Or for community organizations, imagine a platform to post volunteer opportunities for students to fulfill their community service requirements. Not only does this make your organization top of mind for the family, but it also creates dialogue and support that can lead to future volunteerism and donations. Give back to your constituents' support structure, and they will give back to you.
When working with groups, you don't need to conform to the obvious criteria. An alumni group could start coming back every year to help organize the canned food drive. A student might find the advice, funding, and talent necessary to launch the next Google. A parent may find the tutor she needs to help her child through the rigorous curriculum. By empowering the creation and use of groups that go beyond natural affiliations, you can encourage incredible engagement with your constituents!
This post is Part II of our series on Groups. If you missed Part I, check it out by clicking here. If you're ready to step it up with Part III, check it out by clicking here. Also, be sure to subscribe by clicking the (+) icon on the right or leaving a comment below.