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Meet Our Customer
Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) America serves as the voice for 200,000+ health and physical education professionals across the United States. The organization’s extensive community includes a diverse membership of health and physical educators, as well as advocates, supporters, and 50+ state affiliate organizations. SHAPE America’s National Standards for K-12 Physical Education have served as the foundation for well-designed physical education programs across the country and the organization helped develop and owns the National Health Education Standards.
We spoke with Joey Martelli, SHAPE America Advocacy & Public Affairs Manager about how the organization uses Higher Logic Thrive to provide a professional learning community where their members congregate, connect, and elevate their careers.
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Bringing Back A Professional Learning Space
Ever since SHAPE America closed their previous online community due to budgetary changes, their members had been asking for it back. It had been their most popular member benefit and although the organization still used marketing automation to communicate with their members about events and other member benefits, their members missed having that place to engage with their peers.
On Facebook or Twitter, their members would encounter people outside of the health and physical education sphere, and might find themselves having to work against stereotypical characterizations of what others think health and physical education is. Members wanted a place to talk about their jobs with colleagues who could relate and who were as passionate as they were.
SHAPE America was excited to use Higher Logic Thrive to revive their professional learning community – and to bring it back better than ever with new features.
“There aren’t many things specifically tailored for associations but Higher Logic Thrive is really a full-service association tool. We used to have separate tools for email, our AMS, our community, our events and more. Getting to where it’s a one-stop-shop – like Higher Logic Thrive offers – and working within that one platform that has everything is so much better and easier for us. And it makes a more streamlined experience for our members.”
Intentional, Sustainable Planning
The community is still intended as a professional learning hub – and SHAPE America is thinking community first. They want the community to be a one-stop shop, through which members access their full suite of member benefits. And they’re excited by how much they can customize – they were able to take out-of-the-box designs and make them their own to help them create the cohesive member experience they’re looking for.
They’re also being intentional about planning to generate non-dues revenue from ads on their community and in email. The primary goal will always be serving their members, but this allows the organization to diversify their financial support.
During implementation, SHAPE America balanced having multiple internal stakeholders at the table, with having one centralized person to manage the process and community. Getting input from other departments helped them facilitate staff investment in the community’s success from the start, while also ensuring that the community was built with a full spectrum of member needs and cross-organizational goals in mind.
“One of the coolest things about this from an implementation side is how custom your community can get. We built off of the out-of-the-box design, plus all these new features, like the really intuitive homepage, and we blended all that to make it ours – it was easy to use and something we were super fired up about.”
A “Happy Melting Pot” of Engaged Members
Members are so excited the online community is back. They love being able to connect there and are enjoying the new features. Experienced members are sharing their knowledge; there are enthusiastic discussions around strategies and best practices; and even people who don’t engage as often are expressing appreciation. Joey described it as a “happy melting pot.”
And the community makes members more engaged with their membership – SHAPE America has noticed that one of the main ways members know their membership has lapsed (and are then spurred to renew) is when they stop getting their daily community digest emails. In fact, their community emails are some of their highest performing emails – with a 40% open rate – which gives SHAPE America another channel for reaching members beyond standard marketing emails.
One of the top benefits of the community for the organization and staff is being able to see what members are talking about and learn what’s important to them. When they see popular topics or questions in the community, they’re able to put together resources, recommendations, and content to address their members’ needs. For example, there are several popular conversations around block scheduling for PE on their community now. Given the popularity of the topic, SHAPE America is crafting related guidance and an event session for their members. The community is a real-time download of what members are dealing with and looking for, and it strengthens the organization’s ability to help their members succeed.
“All the messages have been ‘we’re so excited this is back!’ ‘this is amazing – it’s such a great member benefit’ and that’s what we love to hear.”