Before there was FaceTime, the app, there was face time, the thing – as in good old-fashioned in-person interaction.

As life has gone online, associations have had to find new ways to connect with members and keep them engaged. Online events, from webinars to virtual happy hours to entire conferences, are one way to do this, but what about in between events? What about the members and prospective members who may not have the time to participate?

To stay connected with these folks, we recommend faces – lots of them. Faces create a personal connection, and members who feel personally connected to their association are more likely to stay members and bring in others.

At ADG, we commission a caricature of every member of our team. These drawings by artist Jeanne A. Benas are featured on our website (hover over the head shots to see them), and many of our team members use their caricatures in their outgoing emails, Zoom profiles and PowerPoint presentations.

Each drawing captures not only the person’s appearance and their role – or roles – at ADG but also their hobbies and interests. Kelly enjoys cooking and vacationing at Cape May, and she has a daughter who is the apple of her eye. Beverly is musical and lives with a Siamese cat. Sean is a foodie, a runner and a Boston Celtics fan. Kevin is an outdoorsman who enjoys working with his hands.

Not everyone can afford to hire a caricaturist, but there are online resources you can use to get creative with the faces you show your members and the public in your association’s e-communications and social media. Sites such as and allow you to upload a photo and convert it to a cartoon, sketch or other type of image with a single click.  You can even reimagine yourself as a character from “Peanuts” or “South Park.” Most of these are free, and some offer a paid version that gives you more options.

A word of caution: Avoid Facebook’s avatar generator. It’s another way for the social media platform to capture your personal information.

Of course, you don’t need to go the caricature or cartoon route. Photos can be fun, too. Set aside the stodgy head shots in favor of photos that showcase people’s personalities. Encourage your members to share theirs as well.

We are all inundated with email, and it’s easy for our members to dismiss yet another association communication as inbox clutter. When they discover that those emails are actually fun and entertaining to view, they’re less likely to fall victim to the “delete” or “unsubscribe” button.

Have you found a compelling way to reach your members visually in the time of COVID-19? Share them with your fellow association executives on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds. And if you need help overhauling your online presence, give us a call.