MEMBERSHIP GROWTH – Adding value to membership

Ask volunteer leaders and many will place membership growth high on their priority list.  But then ask them to describe their game plan for achieving that goal and few can point to any plan. 

Non-profit leaders must realize that increasing the size of their organization just does not happen; it is something you have to plan.  Here is a handy checklist to use that will help successfully shape your plans for membership growth: 

  • Understand what keeps members awake at night and then dovetail your group’s benefits toward those concerns.
  • Develop a targeted marketing plan; Where is your audience?  Who would benefit from what you do?  How will you reach them?  
  • While benefits should be practical, the reason people join is emotional and how you market must recognize that reality. 
  • Know how to sell.  Your message must be a win-win proposition. 
  • People will say “no.”  Don’t take it personally.  Don’t focus on the negative; it becomes self fulfilling. 
  • Make sure you provide value for membership, know what the marketplace will bear and make sure you are not the cheapest. 
  • Discourage price shopper members.  They will leave you at the drop of a hat. 
  • Don’t be afraid to defend your prices or your benefits. 
  • Measure your growth on a regular basis.  Make adjustments if necessary.  Celebrate your successes often. 
  • Encourage member loyalty by providing value for their money and their time. 
  • Every volunteer leader is a membership recruiter.  How positive a volunteer interacts with a member helps to keep that member for another year. 
  • What kind of culture does the association have toward membership growth?  Do they want everyone at any price or do they place value on membership benefits? 
  • Make sure Board members are risk takers so they are open to new trends.  Members are changing in age, how they want to be contacted and how they value benefits. 
  • Have both a membership welcome plan and a way to keep in touch with them throughout the year.  Don’t let your dues renewal be the first time members hear from you since joining. 
  • Volunteers expect Boards to be focused on the big picture and to anticipate trends: economic, generational, and educational. This focus may even lead to finding a new niche of members.  
  • Take advantage of these trends to reinforce membership benefits. 
  • Repackage materials, offerings to attract new members. 
  • Cross sell through other organizations.  Collaborate with other groups to provide greater member value. 
  • Raise your prices annually.  Everything is going up.  Better to have a gradual increase in membership dues than one big jump every so many years. 

Finally, make sure to measure results.  Be ready to drop those things that are not working in the plan.  Expand those activities that are bringing in new members.  Try new techniques and approaches.   Follow these tips and your non-profit will experience phenomenal growth.

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