Non-profits are constantly scrambling to raise enough revenue to keep the doors open and the staff paid. There are lots of creative fundraising methods utilized by non-profit organizations, but the membership program has proven itself to be a strong way to develop some predictability for the organization when budgeting. Any non-profit looking to establish or reassess their membership program has to spend some time looking at a variety of factors such as the following:
What benefits are provided to members?
What is the overall purpose of the membership program?
What opportunities are present for members to make contributions?
Reviewing Membership Fees
The most important part of any membership program review has to be a deep analysis of membership fees. Knowing the purpose of the membership fees and the role they play in the greater budget of the non-profit is essential. For instance, NPR (National Public Radio) has determined that the largest percentage (35%) of their financial revenue comes from member station membership dues and fees. Each member station also has its own membership program which contributes to its budget as well.
Conduct a deep review of how much your membership program is currently contributing, or how much you need it to contribute if you are starting a membership program. Membership programs can be used for:
Paying operational expenses
Funding specific projects
Paying for community outreach
Other specific or general needs
Analyze Membership Fees
Calculate how much your membership program contributes to your financials
Selecting Membership Levels
Many organizations incorporate different levels of membership. They frequently offer incentives and membership privileges at different levels. Look at your nonprofit's mission, goals, and how easy or difficult it has been to meet them in the past. If you are in need of raising additional revenue but are missing membership goals, it may be advisable to change the membership levels or make adjustments to your marketing strategy.
How many levels does your membership program have?
Do you need to add or adjust these levels?
Engaging Your Membership
Keeping your membership engaged in your organization is essential. A membership program will usually have some level of lost members over time, but with this should come new members. Keeping your existing membership engaged with the overall program of your non-profit is necessary to keep the loss of members to a minimum. The following are some ideas for member engagement.
Action Items for Engagement:
Providing newsletters, phone calls, and social media announcements of news and upcoming events to keep your organization fresh in their minds throughout the year.
Holding special events for your members is also a good way to let them know that they are appreciated and get them involved in special projects if necessary.
Marketing Efforts for Your Membership Program
Your nonprofit's membership program has to have new members to continue being a productive part of your organization. Whether you utilize your membership simply as a fundraising mechanism, or you utilize them for physical support, new people are vital. To bring new members on board, you'll have to put some effort into a marketing plan.
1. Finding the Right People
Identifying the people that are most in line with the goals of your organization is the smart way to market your membership program. Determine who the people are that will be interested in learning more about your organization and supporting its efforts. You can read more about inbound marketing strategies that will bring the right people to your non-profit.
You should be willing to do some research to find out what people are volunteering their time, talent and money to other non-profits. These are the people that may be most likely to provide support for your organization. Taking the time to find the right people will save you lots of time in the long run.
3. Make it Simple
Don't make your potential members have to work too hard to become a member of your non-profit. Multiple ways to become a member should be available including online, in-person, mail-in, or even over the telephone. There shouldn't be too many steps involved, and you should have a procedure in place for making it as simple for new members as possible.
Keeping Your Membership
High turnover in your membership is a problem. If this is the case in your non-profit, you may want to put some efforts in place to keep your members happy to ensure long-term support. The following tips will help you retain your existing members:
Make sure they are thanked frequently. Sending an email thanking them for their support, and continuing to send correspondence showing appreciation is an important way to retain their support.
Remember to keep them informed about ongoing projects and other information about how their membership fees are being used.
Make sure you also poll new members asking why they joined and contributed. This will help you to understand what their expectations were at the time. It will give you a better shot at continuing to meet their expectations.