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Ian’s Sponsorship Series: Unengaged Members, Why Should They Listen To You?

Ian’s Sponsorship Series: Unengaged Members, Why Should They Listen To You?


Help me, help you, help us. Do you feel like you’re a rat constantly running on the wheel and getting nowhere only to feel fatigued at your club? If only you had that extra $20,000, $100,000 or $1 million cash injection into the club, how excited would you, your members and your stakeholders be?

It’s funny how a bit of money can change your perspective for the better.

This can be done if the whole club simply works together to support the club’s sponsors so that they return the financial favour towards your club.\


Firstly, how engaged are your members and stakeholders? If you put out a survey, do some of them complete it? Do any?

If members and stakeholders don’t see progress in the club or are not active members of the club community, they are not going to read the club’s communication materials, volunteer at the club, voice their opinions, or attend the events. If you’re lucky, they will pay a membership subscription (but most likely won’t utilise it).

So how are we going to fire up these members into Energiser Bunnies?

What makes your members your members?

We need to understand which of the below criteria resonates with them and why they are a member.

  • Benefits/value proposition of being a member
  • Interaction between committee members, staff, volunteers, club members, and stakeholders (networking purposes)
  • Understanding of the club’s culture/philosophy
  • Personal and professional development (e.g. for volunteers)
  • Exclusiveness

And then….

Every stakeholder needs to be a part of this exercise and be responsible for improving upon these criteria. This is also a good team bonding experience. Implementing changes to these criteria sometimes costs money and may seem risky. Be prepared for a lot of trial and error but when you hit that EUREKA moment, you will notice the relationship between members strengthened, an  increase in membership and revenue, and a bunch of energised members.

“We tried it and it didn’t work!” Yes, I hear ya. It’s up to the board/committee and management team to be unanimously 100% supportive of the direction they want to pursue. If one board/committee member strays, that can contaminate the progress and demotivate a person or the team. So it is imperative that the planning progress gets everyone on board and the work towards a long-term goal (1, 2 or 3 years) has achievable milestones set in place.

This progress takes time but slow progress is still progress, as there is always some form of resistance to change management.


Do not miss that boat, plane or bus!

Once you can sense members are engaged and responsive, it’s time to rally them up to support the club’s financial needs so that you can pursue projects such as club refurbishments, furniture upgrades, expansion of merchandise and services, etc. Once you get the ball rolling, the team will be organising fun and exciting fundraising events for the club. Stay focused and build upon that momentum.

But how do you know if members are engaged? There are a few key performance indicators (KPIs) to look out for: increase in volunteer uptake, referrals, regular member attendance, open rate of e-newsletter, website traffic, social media engagements, number of phone calls to the club, club revenue, email enquiries, etc.

You know when you’re on the right, successful, sustainable track for the club when you notice the uptick in the KPIs listed above.

So how does this all tie in with Return on Investment (ROI) Sponsors?

You finally got that new sponsor to sign those dotted lines. It’s imperative for the board/committee and leadership team to effectively communicate this to the members and stakeholders so that they can return the favour by supporting the sponsors through the club’s communication channels.

Being a sponsor doesn’t mean they simply splash cash around, but that they also become involved with the club. Invite sponsors to events as this humanises the corporation/organisation and builds the relationship between them and the members. This relationship should always go both ways. Here are some other ways for the club and members to support the sponsors:

  • Ask for a quote
  • Purchase products and services from the sponsor
  • Like and share social media posts
  • Participate in club events, trade display table
  • Ask for door prizes for competitions
  • Free invites to Club’s events

If you’re interested in increasing those KPIs listed above, you need to work on your Club’s Brand and Communication Strategy – coming to you in the next Clubs WA Service Bulletin.