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January is over. Are you still continuing to rebuild membership in 2022?

The omicron variant had an impact on community rec organizations in January, but how much of an impact? This is where strong leaders stay focused and get even more determined to achieve their goals. We are seeing organizations shifting to contingency plans once again. The pandemic has taught us we must be ready to adapt and pivot at any given moment. Are you adapting? We’ve learned our planning process must be flexible. Do we have the discipline to revise the game plan once again?

How do you continue to meet the needs of the consumer?

My partners and I supported and tracked digital marketing performance metrics for 38 YMCA branches across the country in January. The results varied, and at the end of the day, memberships were sold. The consumer remains committed to improving their overall health and still has a desire for socialization with neighbors in a safe community environment.

COVID-19 has increased awareness for the importance of preventative health. Socializing with friends, family and co-workers is needed for mental health. Community rec organizations are helping meet community needs just as they have done for decades. This continues to be accomplished in new creative ways with virtual class offerings, virtual meetings, “meet ups” and safe face-to-face interaction. The needs are the same, but the ways we meet them have changed.

Learn More: What’s Your Game Plan for Rebuilding Membership in 2022?

This new hybrid approach to health and wellness isn’t going away, so how do we continue to get better at it? I believe finding balance with this strategy will help community rec organizations achieve the objective to rebuild membership in 2022. 

Is your digital strategy built on what the data is telling you?

The best plans are built with knowledge of the consumer at the top of our minds. Take the time to study what your membership profile groups looked like prior to COVID-19 and what they look like today. Profile segment demographic groups have been around for many years. This data helps you understand who your members are. Understanding who your members are helps build your prospecting plan.

A strong digital marketing partner can help you create a campaign to target the right opportunities with a data-driven approach. What profile groups are growing within your rec community? Are you offering the right programs to meet their needs? If yes, maybe it’s time to ramp back up the schedule and offer more. If no, think about adding new programs to bolster engagement with these profile segments and increase market penetration.

The best members for any community rec facility look just like the members who have been faithful with you for years. This approach ensures your new members will stay with your facility longer. You are already programming to these demographic profile groups and creating an environment where they feel comfortable because they look like your current members.

Never give up. Keep fighting the fight.

We all are experiencing fatigue from this never-ending pandemic. We’re doing more than we ever have with significantly less staff and resources. These are times in which we are growing as professionals at a faster pace than we ever imagined. I encourage you to stay strong and keep fighting. Those who persevere will come out of the pandemic in the best shape.

Remember the cause and do it for your community and for your members. What you do is making a difference in the lives of others. In so many ways community rec organizations are providing more mission and services than ever before. We can now impact even more people by leveraging our digital assets and capabilities.

Leading organizational change.

We are all experiencing firsthand that leading change for our organization is not a linear process. The pandemic keeps us on this roller coaster and is testing our leadership abilities daily. The strongest leaders step up during periods in the valleys. Remember when your organization is going through a dip and feeling despair, that’s when your leadership is needed the most. Stay confident and adaptable.

Learn More: Board and Leadership Roles in Nonprofit

Remember, all plans must be ever changing and flexible to achieve the goals you have set for 2022. Focus on the high-level objectives. The details and strategies that support achieving the goals and objectives can and must be modified and changed along the way.

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Jake Steger

Jake Steger has over 22 years of experience leading Community Recreation Organizations. Most recently, he served as the COO for the YMCA of South Florida, one of the fastest growing YMCA Associations in North America with an annual operating budget of $60 million. Jake is known nationally in the Y movement as a “Membership Guru,” a title which he lived up to with his successful efforts to rebuild membership in South Florida. Jake provided steadfast leadership to the Y of South Florida, resurfacing the organization from the effects of the global pandemic at a record pace. As a result of Jake’s leadership, the YMCA of South Florida rebuilt 85% (same branch sales) of its pre-COVID membership base by August of 2021. Jake led this effort by implementing a new strategic staffing model along with an improved business process that leveraged technology. He strongly believes technology is an “accelerator for growth” and when coupled with the right people and business processes, it can create transformational growth for an organization. With his passion for leading change and leveraging technology, Jake founded REC Business Solutions, Inc. to support the reestablishment of stronger, healthier, and more connected Community Rec Organizations for today’s growing digital economy. Follow Jake: LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.

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