Most non-profits still depend on membership dues as a primary source of income. Yet sending a dues invoice and/or reminder is not the end.
I am not going to go into how an organization should be/have been in contact with its members throughout the year so it knows who is solid when it comes to renewal, who is tentative, and who is not resigning. Nor will I discuss engaging members year round to insure renewals (you can find all that and more in other blog postings).
This is about what you show as the upcoming benefits when renewing. For many an organization, the major benefits are regular meetings, whether weekly, monthly or quarterly. Most associations send out their schedule for the next year in conjunction with their reminder to renew.
So would this be a major reason to rejoin if you got this along with your reminder to renew: “First meeting of the year. Program: How to get the most out of your membership followed by lunch?”
Given the myriad of topics that would appeal and add weight to the argument to rejoin, how high is “getting the most your membership” toward making the sell?
Is this the deciding factor that would make you rejoin? I may be in a minority, but I don’t think that members rate “how to get the most out of their membership” very high on the reasons they renew.
But that is exactly what a statewide education organization made as their value proposition to get me to renew.
Let’s make this a teachable moment. What are some possibilities as to how non-profits can use their meeting schedule to entice renewals? Here are a few ideas:
- Kick off your new membership year with a must attend program. Every association has hot issues that resonate with its members. Make the first meeting one that addresses those items.
- Have a dynamite industry recognized speaker who is either hard to get, who is provocative, or who generates that “I must hear this guy in person.” persona.
- Make the program cost free to attend for those who have renewed. That shows the non-profit values folks who have renewed promptly.
- Give attendees something extra for attending. It may be a special report or exclusive opportunity to interact with a key leader or voucher to the Annual Meeting (or the like).
- Pick an interesting meeting location. If you are always meeting in the same place, shake it up. Find a place that “sells” itself to hold that first membership meeting of the year. Then capitalize on that unique meeting location to build the program.
- Hold the meeting at a different time of day. If you are doing mid-day meetings, then do a dinner meeting and pull out all the stops to make it elegant. Make it “THE” meeting to attend of the membership year.
- Finally, have fun stuff to do and experience. Members love being in groups where they have fun and enjoy themselves. Not only include that in your planning, but let your membership renewals know what they will miss if they don’t attend.
Bottom line: Don’t expect members to just renew because you ask them. Respond when you get questions about membership…including your volunteer leaders. Be interesting in your programming especially at the beginning. Demonstrate in your first meeting what your organization is doing for its members for the rest of the year. Show them they can’t do without you.
Do all that and you will have a magnificent membership year.