Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Should an Open House be in Your Association’s Future?

Another couple invited my wife and I to attend an “open house” at the local hospital.

Not sure why, but we went. And, so did 75 other people!

I was surprised ... 

  • by the large number of people attending a hospital open house
  • by the valuable content (not “sell back”) that key hospital staff shared
  • by the fact the hospital administrator and all the VPs and Directors sharing information were women
  • by the fact that the marketing director stopped us in the parking lot and, finding that we had attended the open house, peppered us with questions about it, how we found out about the event and what we learned
  • that a hospital with no competitors in the region would invest that much staff time for an open house for the community

Obviously, this hospital recognizes we are all potential customers (their words) and volunteers so it makes sense to cultivate relationships.

As I participated in the open house and tour, I was wondering how does this apply to associations and nonprofits?

My answer: it depends.
  • If your association or nonprofit is local or community based, it seems obvious: this is great local community relations and a super way to provide important information about what you do for your community.
  • If your association is statewide, regional, national or international, this open house may serve as a metaphor for transparency and community relations. It may suggest “open house” for members and prospects at your meetings and conferences. It might suggest a “virtual open house” on your websites and blogs. 
Does your association host this type of open house for prospects? For members? For volunteers?

If not, what ways do you reach out to connect with prospects and members?

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