During these economic times, it is important to use everything in your association arsenal to improve membership renewals. One thing to definitely use is a letter/memo with your annual dues notices.
Nowadays, there is a mantra to keep communications to members short so only an invoice is sent with a short message on it. But this is not the time or place to do that.
I like having a cover letter from the association president included so that there is an implicit understanding that this is a member to member communication.
I always ask the volunteer president to write the initial draft so that a personal touch is inherent from the beginning (it also keeps buy in from the leadership). I suggest that letter include the following:
* A review of major services and accomplishments from the previous year that are of importance to members (i.e., answers to what keeps a member awake at night);
* Future plans and benefits for the next year that their membership will bring them;
* A heartfelt statement of why membership is important (the value statement but expressed by a volunteer); and
* A big thank you for being a member in the membership year ending.
After the president has written the draft, staff can correct and clean up the language to make sure that the statement of values and benefits are correctly stated.
The letter ought to be no longer than a page, and there should be a P.S included which includes the main point of the letter along with a reminder of when the membership dues need to be in. This might be a good place to remind the member of the various payment options (cash, check, credit card) and places to renew (mail, website, telephone).
By using this process, one unanticipated benefit has been that I have had some volunteer leaders express the value of membership so succinctly that I have been able to use their words in new member recruitment efforts. Powerful stuff.
So, stand out from all the other requests for money by doing the following:
* Remind your members of the value of membership.
* Tell them what you are going to be doing for them next year.
* And most importantly, thank them for being members.