In the business world, we think about ROI as return on investment. In our world, the world of communities, our investment is the people with whom we work throughout the year, our volunteers, our members, and the common goal we all strive towards. So shouldn’t our thoughts go towards achieving a return on involvement for our members?
When it comes to our community members do we ask ourselves — What makes them act? What motivates them? What can we as leaders do to maximize what they get from their involvement? How can we create an experience that will enrich them, teach them, support them, empower them and make them grow during their involvement in the community?
With such questions guiding us, we can make our communities thrive. Why? Because when the return on involvement is worth the return on investment we get the sense of belonging/satisfaction that fosters commitment, continuity and growth.
When it comes to measurement, you have to define first the goals and vision of your community. Once your purpose is clear then you can set goals for what you want your members to get out of the being involved in the community.
For example, let's take a volunteer community that is strongly based on people volunteering their time, skills and talents. As a community leader, I have to ensure they get a return on involvement if I want to encourage continuity, achieve belonging and create a culture within the community where all stakeholders get something out of it.
Here are some examples of the questions you can ask yourself when building your ROI strategy:
Q: Do my members get more knowledge out of being involved in my community?A: As a part of the community, my members can acquire new skills whether it be by participating in training courses, enrichment days, leadership sessions etc. These sessions, by the way, can be provided by other members of the community to create a sort of knowledge sharing ecosystem.
In this way, their return on being involved in the community is - "I get to acquire new skills and knowledge but I also get to share mine".
Q: Do they get more empowered?A: To empower someone means to give them the means to achieve something. It's important to me that my core team feels empowered - that they feel supported and given the tools to succeed in their role.
In this way, their return on being involved in the community is - Active members are empowered to be leaders as well and supported along the way by their team and peers.
Q: Do they find connections and friendships?A: People join communities to belong, to connect with people of similar interest and to feel like they are a part of something greater. Creating friendships and connections means that the member has expanded their circle, connected to other people and is on his way to finding the purpose to what they were looking for in a community.
You can create a feedback survey that you conduct bi-yearly. In the survey, we ask the questions and ask the member to answer on a scale of 1 to 5. We can get some good statistics that way to gauge the success (or failure) of each of the criteria/goals we set ourselves - goals to achieve a return on involvement for our members.
I invite you to think about what was.. and the way ahead and how we can achieve a return on involvement for ourselves and our communities.