This guide explores proven ways to retain association staff members.

How to Retain Your Association’s Staff: 4 Best Practices

Your association’s staff facilitates your programs, ensures members continue their engagement, and manages all day-to-day operations. Just like you aim to create a positive member experience, you should also cultivate a positive work environment for your staff. Doing so will help you retain top staff members, reducing turnover and maintaining consistent operations. 

Retention is impacted by numerous factors, including compensation, professional satisfaction, and work culture. Associations interested in taking an active approach to improving retention should consider starting an employee engagement program. These programs aim to retain staff by identifying their top concerns, implementing structured paths for improvement, and regularly checking in with employees to verify their success. 

To help your association improve staff retention, this guide will explore three best practices you can incorporate into your employee engagement program. 

1. Show your appreciation. 

Your staff works hard, and a simple “thank-you” can go a long way toward making them feel like an integral part of your organization. Of course, you can improve retention by expanding your efforts to ensure your staff feels valued and appreciated. 

While verbal and public appreciation can be meaningful for many employees, consider incorporating more tangible benefits into your association’s employee appreciation strategy. For example, eCardWidget’s guide to recognition awards suggests a few bonuses that associations could give top employees:

  • Physical awards. Certificates, plaques, and trophies are tangible representations of all that your staff has done for your association. Design physical awards for specific achievements, such as a plaque for a work anniversary; or create an award that’s regularly handed to different employees, like an employee of the month trophy. 
  • Perks. Little perks like branded merchandise add up to create a more positive, appreciative work environment. These perks can be given individually or along with another award. For example, the staff member who receives employee of the month might also get access to a VIP parking spot.
  • Time-off. Appreciation awards can take the form of compensation, such as extra time off. Give employees an extra day off, allow them to work a half day, or double their lunchtime. 
  • Celebration lunch. If you want to appreciate multiple employees at once, a celebration lunch provides an effective way to bring your staff together to socialize with one another and be honored all at once. 

Outside of leadership appreciating staff, consider also implementing a peer-to-peer recognition program. This could take the form of a bulletin board where employees leave positive comments, direct emails where leadership is CC’d, or opportunities for employees to present awards from leadership to each other. Doing so can create a culture of appreciation and allow employees to be recognized for day-to-day accomplishments leadership may not always notice. 

2. Offer paths for growth. 

Employees appreciate careers that allow them to grow and advance. Often, employees will change jobs if they feel a position at a different organization offers clear paths for advancement. Ensure your association provides opportunities for growth by following these strategies:

  • Meet with staff about their growth and development. Ensure your association’s staff are aware of advancement opportunities that align with their career path. Talking with staff members individually during performance reviews or check-ins demonstrates that you’re taking each employee’s career growth seriously. Additionally, you may discover that staff members want to grow in different ways, allowing you to guide them individually in a direction that fits their professional goals. 
  • Provide training opportunities. Your association likely offers online courses to help members advance their careers. Provide your staff with the same opportunities. This could be free access to your association’s courses or giving them designated time during the work day to complete external training courses. 
  • Allow employees to share ideas and feedback. Let your staff influence not just their own career paths, but the direction of your association as a whole. Regularly surveying your staff to gather feedback can provide valuable insights into how your association could improve, while also ensuring staff feel heard. 

As your staff begins following these paths to professional growth, ensure you have opportunities for them to demonstrate their skills. For example, if you have an employee interested in expanding their technical skills, you might give them a chance to partner with your technical team to complete a project for your website. This allows employees to showcase their growth and feel that their work to advance is paying off.  

3. Cultivate a positive work environment. 

How do your staff feel about coming to work every day? While the workplace may not be fun, it can be a rewarding environment that allows employees to focus, feel motivated, and know they’re supported. You can make your association’s work environment more positive by:

  • Providing and updating employee resources and tools. All of your staff should have the equipment and resources they need to complete their daily tasks. This might entail ensuring each team has enough members to manage their workload or updating your association management software if the organization has outgrown its current system.
  • Host engagement events. Give your staff an opportunity to get to know one another and build comradery outside of a work environment. These can be events hosted by leadership, such as an employee volunteer day, or you can let individual staff members plan and oversee engagement events. Letting staff take the lead can free up the time of executives, but be sure to set a few parameters, such as the event’s budget per person. 
  • Create a corporate philanthropy program. As mentioned, showing your commitment to giving makes staff feel motivated by their employer. One easy philanthropy program to implement is matching gifts. Double the Donation’s guide to starting a matching gift program outlines the core steps: set a budget and gift parameters, create an application form, inform employees about your program, and facilitate donations when employees give. 

When making changes to your work environment, consider how you can align your association’s values and work culture. Doing so will increase employees’ trust in your organization by showing you’re committed to your stated ideals. For example, an association that has a value of community would likely want to focus on programs that inspire collective action and collaboration rather than facilitating competition. 

4. Offer workplace giving opportunities.

Employees want to work for organizations that promote social good. In fact, a Forbes survey of 2,000 U.S. employees found that 76% of workers want to work for companies that positively impact the world.

Show your association’s staff your commitment to making a positive difference by offering workplace giving opportunities such as:

This image shows common types of workplace giving, which can be helpful for engaging and retaining your association's staff.
  • Matching gifts. As an association leader, you understand the importance of members’ donations. If it’s in your budget, offer to match employees’ donations to eligible nonprofits.
  • Volunteer opportunities. Either host team volunteer opportunities to support local charities or encourage individual volunteerism through volunteer grants.
  • Donation stipends. Provide employees with funds specifically for donating. Give your team a list of potential causes for employees to donate to or let them choose the nonprofit organization themselves. 
  • Paycheck deductions. Infuse charitable giving into your workplace’s culture with payroll deductions. Enabled by online payroll systems, your association’s employees can opt to have a portion of each paycheck go to a nonprofit of their choice.

Employee giving software can simplify these opportunities and make it easier for your association’s employees to participate. These giving platforms come equipped with tools for employee donations, matching gifts, volunteer management, fundraisers, and more.

No matter which programs you launch, offering workplace giving communicates that your association supports its employees’ philanthropic efforts. In turn, they’ll be more engaged at work, leading to higher productivity and retention rates.


Retaining your association’s staff year-to-year ensures your organization maintains a professional, skilled team who can provide a consistent experience for members. Persuade your staff to stick around by implementing an employee appreciation program, listening to their feedback, and striving to create a workplace where employees can succeed and thrive.

As the world's cloud-based CRM software, Salesforce can be an incredible tool for associations. Explore these strategies to make the most of Salesforce.

Salesforce for Associations: A Comprehensive Guide

With more than 150,000 businesses leveraging its software and over 3,000 apps built using its interface, Salesforce is one of the most widely used platforms in the world. 

However, Salesforce isn’t just a tool for businesses. The power and scalability of Salesforce have made it one of the most intuitive platforms for creating and powering association management software. As an association professional, you’ve no doubt heard of Salesforce and its power to streamline the many operations of running an association, but it can be difficult to wrap your head around how to begin using Salesforce and its many apps to benefit your association. 

To help you navigate Salesforce, we’ll cover the following topics:

Let’s get started by exploring the basics to prepare you to join the Salesforce community, confidently navigate your current Salesforce association tools, and even prepare for an upgrade.

Contact Fonteva to learn more about how to use Salesforce for associations.
Start learning about the basics of using Salesforce for associations.

What is Salesforce?

Salesforce is the world’s leading cloud-based CRM software provider. It allows users to leverage its platform to manage their data, connect with their constituents, and enhance the internal operations of their organizations. 

However, for association professionals not well-acquainted with the technical side of their membership’s operations, this definition might sound a bit confusing. In other words, you can think of Salesforce as the engine through which different organizations build out their management systems. 

What is Salesforce used for?

While Salesforce itself is not an association management software (AMS), it provides the foundation that association experts can use to create association management platforms like FontevaAn AMS powered by Salesforce provides your association with the flexibility it needs to grow, deepen relationships in your community, and manage financial data in a single platform.

There are a variety of ways to use Salesforce for associations. For example, your association can use Salesforce to manage memberships more efficiently by personalizing members’ experiences and keeping their data safe. Salesforce can also help your organization adapt to changes in technology (like AI) and adjust to members’ needs and expectations more quickly.

How can Salesforce benefit your association?

There’s a reason that Salesforce is considered the industry standard for CRM and native-built association platforms. Other popular AMS software, such as iMIS, require users to have extensive coding and backend experience to effectively perform customizations. Because this AMS software uses separate systems for its various tools, it can be difficult to move data among your entire AMS suite.

Instead, consider how an effective Salesforce platform can help streamline operations for your association:

By using Salesforce for associations, leaders can house all of their operations under one log-in.
  • High levels of customization. Salesforce offers a robust foundation of CRM tools, such as constituent data reporting and constituent portals, on top of which software creators can create custom management systems for your association.
  • Ease of use. Platforms like Salesforce offer a safety net for association professionals who aren’t quite tech-savvy enough to use code to customize their AMS. With drag-and-drop interfaces and dashboards, it’s never been easier to navigate an AMS system than those built on Salesforce.
  • Member community capabilities. With powerful member portals, a Salesforce AMS enables you to host vibrant member communities. These online communities allow members to initiate conversations with one another, connect and explore your resources, and engage more closely with your association.
  • The AppExchange ecosystem. The Salesforce AppExchange is a robust library of software systems built on Salesforce. With a Salesforce-native AMS, you have access to the entire collection of 2,700+ apps that can be easily accessed, purchased, and directly integrated with your current association management tools. If you’re looking for association event management software, you can save time and money on implementation and messy data imports by integrating your new Salesforce event management app directly into your suite of AMS tools using the AppExchange.

Salesforce can provide a customizable yet approachable option for streamlining your association’s operations, giving you more time to connect with members and plan engaging opportunities and events.

These strategies for using Salesforce for associations can help you manage members more effectively.

Using Salesforce for Associations: 5 Membership Management Strategies

Salesforce association management software comes stocked with intuitive, powerful tools and capabilities to take your association to the next level. These membership management strategies can help you take advantage of the platform’s best features.

Discover how you can personalize your members’ experience by using Salesforce for associations.

1. Personalize and Automate Member Communications

Communication is the building block of any effective member engagement strategy, and Salesforce’s comprehensive communication features hold the key to enhancing your member communications. 

Using Salesforce, you can automate communications to members like:

  • Emails
  • Certificates
  • Event tickets
  • Receipts

You can use Salesforce to level up your existing email communication and marketing strategy. Rather than sending out generic email blasts your members may begin to tune out, incorporate Salesforce’s branded email templates into your messaging. This allows you to create unique, custom messages that can be automatically sent out to an entire list of members, with their names and personal details filling in the gaps. 

These emails are branded to your association and can be scheduled to send at any time. This means that you can automatically reach out to members with information about their dues, upcoming events, and other important communications at precisely the right time. 

2. Explore the Salesforce AppExchange

The Salesforce AppExchange is one of the most valuable resources afforded to you by using a Salesforce-native AMS. With the AppExchange, your association can choose and implement the tools that are suited to your association’s needs and its potential for growth. 

For example, while you may not currently have the bandwidth to host very many in-person or virtual association events, you could find yourself on the hunt for a dedicated association event management toolkit in just a few years.

With the AppExchange, you can build out your own custom toolkit of membership software, from powerful e-commerce software to seamless membership platforms.

3. Create Thriving Member Communities

With a Salesforce AMS and membership platform, you can create a rich online resource for members to communicate, explore, and access important resources. Leverage these tools to improve the online member experience:

  • Self-service portal. A dedicated member portal gives online users access to guides, downloadable resources, videos, and other member content that helps them to shape their own membership experience.
  • Group creation and collaboration. Enable members to form groups within your membership platform. From forming casual, special-interest chatrooms to more formal member committees, your members will be able to take a more active role in your association and how they engage with it.
  • Member directories. Membership directories can be used both to promote your association to the public and to offer a way for members to take charge of their own networking opportunities.

From empowering members to drive their own engagements to freeing up time for your association team, this membership management strategy can create significant gains for any association.

4. Look Out for Upgrades

Make sure that your Salesforce AMS solution abides by Salesforce’s quarterly update schedule. With association technology constantly evolving, it’s important to be able to rely on an AMS system that is frequently improving to keep up with advances in the membership sector. 

With Salesforce, your AMS should be able to install critical software upgrades with just the click of a button. Additionally, Salesforce operates on a true cloud system, meaning that an AMS system fully built on Salesforce should be able to perform upgrades on any device, at any time.

5. Leverage the Flexibility of Salesforce

One of Salesforce’s most popular features is its customization. In particular, be sure to make the most of these features to create custom: 

  • Dashboards. Improve your team’s view of member data and allow each department to effectively manage its own workflow with configurable dashboards. 
  • Reports. Track specific key performance indicators, schedule reportage, and better manage your association’s unique data with custom reports.
  • Messaging. From branded email templates to customizable surveys, be mindful to personalize your messaging with members for maximum engagement. 

Through coding or drag-and-drop interfaces, the right AMS system allows you to easily control and configure your membership management operations within its suite of tools.

Learn how Fonteva can help you start using Salesforce for associations.

Fonteva: The Ultimate Salesforce-Native AMS

If your association is in search of an AMS solution that takes full advantage of the tools and capabilities of the Salesforce platform, then look no further. 

Fonteva AMS is 100% native to Salesforce, meaning that our suite of association, event, and membership management tools is built from the ground up using the Salesforce engine. With perfect integration capabilities between other applications in the Salesforce AppExchange, Fonteva is the best solution for association leaders who are searching for the true Salesforce experience.

To learn more about Fonteva’s association and membership management software and how we can optimize your association’s operations, explore our Membership page.

Check out Fonteva’s membership page to learn more about how using Salesforce for associations can benefit your organization.

From simplifying internal operations to enhancing the membership experience, the right Salesforce AMS solution can completely transform how your association manages itself and its members. With these strategies and with Salesforce-powered software, we hope that your association can begin to take steps toward reaching its fullest engagement and management potential.

Want to learn more about association management and engagement strategies? Check out these resources:

Additional Resources

To start using Salesforce for associations, request a demo with Fonteva to learn more.