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Case Study: Strengthening Membership Through Community Engagement

Back in 2014, my husband, friends, clients, and I embarked on a heartwarming journey with the Hamilton Basket Brigade. What began as a simple act of pooling resources to provide food baskets for those in need in our community quickly transformed into a meaningful and impactful charity, embodying the true spirit of compassion and giving.

From the very beginning, the Hamilton Basket Brigade was about more than just distributing food baskets; it was a powerful catalyst for bringing together diverse groups of people around a shared cause. Our modest start involved delivering just a few baskets. However, as the years progressed, our efforts amplified, culminating in the distribution of over a thousand baskets. This remarkable expansion in our outreach was accompanied by a significant growth in volunteer participation, transforming our charitable activities into much-anticipated community events. These gatherings were not only a time for packing and delivering baskets but also joyous celebrations of collective effort and community spirit.

But the impact of the Hamilton Basket Brigade extended beyond the immediate community. Participating in this initiative brought unexpected benefits, such as a noticeable boost in employee morale within our organization. Our team members felt a profound sense of fulfillment and pride in being part of something greater, which translated into enhanced motivation and enthusiasm in their professional roles.

Moreover, our involvement in this initiative opened avenues for deeper engagement with our clients. They witnessed our commitment to community service firsthand, fostering a stronger, more personal connection with our organization. This increased engagement was not just emotionally rewarding; it also led to a tangible increase in donations, further fueling our ability to make a positive impact.

Our journey with the Hamilton Basket Brigade has been a testament to the power of community service in bringing people together, enhancing organizational morale, strengthening client relationships, and expanding our capacity to give back. It serves as a shining example of how even small acts of kindness can blossom into significant movements, enriching our community and ourselves.

The Role of Community in Member Engagement

For membership associations, our journey with the Hamilton Basket Brigade presents a compelling blueprint. The spirit of volunteering and community service can significantly amplify member engagement. Organizing campaigns that resonate with your members and echo your association’s mission can forge deeper connections fostering a sense of belonging and can assist in strengthening membership engagement.

Beyond Altruism: The Ripple Effect of Community Service

Engaging in community service transcends the act of giving. It enhances member engagement, injects a sense of pride in the association, and boosts overall morale. It also offers members the chance to network and build relationships in a more meaningful context.

Transitioning Initiatives and Sustaining Engagement

Interestingly, as our focus shifted from delivering food baskets to providing shoes, we observed a change in clients, volunteers and donors’ engagement. This shift, while enhancing our impact, posed new challenges in maintaining the same level of community involvement. It’s a poignant reminder that engagement strategies may need to adapt alongside evolving service goals.

Initiating Community Service in Your Association

To emulate the Hamilton Basket Brigade’s model in your association, start by identifying causes that align with your values. Partnering with existing charities or launching independent service projects are effective approaches. The focus should be on inclusivity and making these initiatives engaging for everyone involved.


Our journey with the Hamilton Basket Brigade, from its inception to its growth into a community pillar, highlights the transformative power of working together for the greater good. For associations, this approach is not just about enriching the lives of others; it’s also about strengthening the fabric of your own community.

We invite you to explore similar paths with your members and experience the rewarding journey of collective effort and community involvement. Visit Hamilton Basket Brigade to see how a simple act of kindness can blossom into a movement of communal joy and solidarity.

Until next time,

Cherry Chan, CPA, CA

Nonprofit CFO

PS, if you want to chat about strengthening your membership engagement or anything else we are always happy to have a chat.  Book a call here.

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