Each year, member-based organizations meticulously prepare for critical elections that determine the fate of a variety of races and measures. At the heart of these contests are hard-working members casting ballots to decide who will hold key positions, and the policies that will affect them, personally.
Anyone who’s voted in a political election understands perfectly well why voting is important—or at least they should. Consistently low participation rates, especially during so-called “off-year” elections, inspire little confidence among those who take pride in their personal level of civic engagement.
Member elections for associations, co-ops, unions, financial and educational institutions, and similar groups are a completely different ballgame. Yet, like civic elections, these play an incredibly important role in ensuring organizations remain vibrant and democratic.
If you’re viewing elections through a narrow lens, the significance of voting would seem self-explanatory, yet member elections can impact constituents in a number of ways.
Similarly, organizations can also benefit significantly, since these annual events offer an opportunity to reconnect with members, en masse. Members and leaders alike should therefore push to increase turnout and ensure as many people as possible have a say in their collective futures.
Why Voting Is Important For Members
Organizations hoping to inspire greater participation may initially feel compelled to dispense oft-used cliches about how it’s in their constituents’ best interests to cast ballots. In a way, that line of thinking is completely understandable. But the hard truth is, elections really are in their members’ best interests.
Member organizations are diverse, and encompass a large swath of industries. Yet they share a common trait: Members have a stake in the success of the group. In many cases, those who are part of such organizations pay to join, either through membership fees, union dues, or other ways, meaning, they should expect to get something positive from this relationship in return for their hard-earned dollars. That could come in the form of a more favorable union contract, improved amenities where they live, and better resources and representation.
If that’s the sole reason why a member votes, then that may be good enough reason as any. To be able to have a say in who will represent you at the negotiating table, or be the public face of an organization, is invaluable.
Similar to political elections, these private contests can reinforce to members that their voice matters, and their concerns will be appropriately addressed. In the end, casting a ballot during an organization’s contest can be uplifting and empowering, for all those involved.
Additionally, if a member is filling in the circle for a certain colleague to rise in their ranks or to support a certain issue, it’s an indication they’re actively engaged inside the organization. Aside from voting season, attending industry events and gatherings, and being aware of the goings-on within a group, can only be to the member’s benefit.
No matter how you slice it, those who vote are deeply engaged, or at the very least, realize they have a vested interest in their group’s success.
Why Voting Is Important for Member Organizations
Member-based organizations that hire election vendors to manage their contests almost always inquire about ways they can achieve greater participation. This makes perfect sense, since these pivotal contests demonstrate the many advantages of having an engaged constituency.
One of these primary benefits is the ability to reconnect with members on an annual basis. Organizations should use their resources during this period to extend their gratitude toward their members, relay vital information, and remind everyone about their collective goals. It may also be a good opportunity to release a “State of the Organization” memo, highlighting success stories and a vision for the future.
Now ensuring people actually vote may require a great deal of energy, but one way to promote higher engagement is to capitalize on the power of the web, and offer internet elections, which are quickly becoming one of the most popular ways to manage these contests.
On that note, it’s essential associations, regardless of industry, have the utmost faith in their election management agency.
To recap, voting is an inherently democratizing act. It reinforces the sense among people that their voices are important, and being heard, regardless of the size of their organization. It also empowers people to help determine the future of their group. And for associations, higher turnout means more engaged members. Voting, by all accounts, is a win-win for everyone involved.