When a donor joins your organization’s membership program, they are making a concrete pledge of loyalty and support. These members are in it for the long haul, and they pay recurring dues so they can have access to all the special opportunities, resources, and events that your nonprofit has to offer. Failing to provide these benefits can be a costly error.
After all, these are your most passionate givers. They play a bigger role in your mission than a regular donor, and so they should be rewarded and engaged accordingly. This not only shows them that you recognize their commitment to the organization, but it also helps to encourage other donors to follow suit and join your membership program.
We will address the key ways you can enrich the member experience, namely by working to:
To keep your members happy, it’s critical to engage them consistently, check in, and offer unique experiences. If you don’t prioritize your engagement plans, then you’re likely to face major member attrition. With a bit of consideration and strategic vision, you can not only avoid these pitfalls but make your own association program more desirable than ever.
No matter what projects your organization is tackling, you must always find the time to keep in touch with members in a dynamic way. They depend on you for updates and announcements regarding the cause, and you run the risk of decreasing donor retention if your communications are unappealing or falter altogether.
Take a look at your current communications and email tools to determine if you’re doing all you can to ensure your communications are optimized. Here are a few effective communication strategies to consider:
While most of your communication methods will likely be virtual, in-person surveys are another way to meaningfully engage with members and collect data. A friendly face continues to be the most effective way to build personal connections with supporters, and mobile platforms have made it possible to effectively survey donors while on the go.
To a dedicated donor, these simple acts of recognition and acknowledgment could mean the difference between future giving and lapsed membership. Communication is crucial to maintaining these relationships, and by implementing these communication best practices you stand a far better chance of growing your membership rates.
On the topic of communication, it’s not enough to simply be sending attentive messages to your members. They will appreciate the gesture, but you must ensure that this line of communication runs both ways. Identifying procedures to obtain member feedback is a strong strategy to optimize engagement and retain your donors.
Surveys are a particularly good way to gain a direct understanding of your members’ needs. Whether it’s delivered through a social media platform, mobile events app, or email marketing tool, send surveys to poll your members.
Of course, members may not always have the time or patience to complete routine polls. Make the most of their time by sending out polls after significant updates or milestones in their membership. For example, here are a few of the best opportunities with which to include an engagement survey:
No matter how confident you are in your ability to please members and launch engaging events, collecting donor feedback is never a bad idea. Offering a platform for their opinions provides one of the best litmus tests for how members truly feel about their membership.
While members are passionate about your nonprofit’s mission, the bottom line is that they will only continue to pay dues if the program is worth more than the cost of entry. A member’s experience should be different than an average donor’s, and allowing them access to special events that celebrate their support helps to ensure that it is continued.
Interactive program events such as luncheons, galas, and game nights are great ways to give members something fun to look forward to and connect them with one another. This creates a stronger sense of community and encourages retention among these special supporters.
Unfortunately, these kinds of in-person opportunities are not always possible. This is where some membership programs have struggled the most this past year. As physical events are complicated by the pandemic, how can you provide engaging opportunities for your members?
Fonteva’s guide to going virtual provides a few ingenious ways to combat the challenges of our new situation. For example, rather than canceling a planned activity and losing out on that opportunity for engagement and revenue, transition it to a virtual space and take advantage of the unique benefits of the technology.
This might mean turning a member lunch into a virtual paint-and-sip, a charity gala into a masquerade-themed online auction, or a bowling night into an interactive game show. It’s simply a matter of finding the right event platform to accommodate your needs and exercising a bit of creativity.
Other opportunities for member engagement, both on and off the internet, could include:
Considering the recent struggles we’ve faced as a global community, it’s more important than ever to engage members with resources. Show your supporters that you are not only still thinking of them, but that you are prepared to face any challenge with bold, dynamic, and entertaining solutions.
Now that you’ve thoroughly integrated the experiences and responses of your members, it’s time to consider a far subtler kind of feedback. Data tracking is one of the most effective tools to improve overall engagement. The digital activity of your members speaks volumes about what events and content are truly performing well.
You may be asking yourself, “when should I be tracking data?” The simple answer is always. Your membership platform should be constantly, actively collecting data, allowing you to analyze both short-term activity and broader trends in long-term member engagement.
Now the question becomes “what kind of data is most relevant to organizational development?” Your best strategy is to follow key performance indicators (KPIs) across all your major platforms to gain insight from membership program data.
KPIs are strategic business metrics that your association can set to measure your progress towards specific, quantifiable goals. A number of major KPIs to consider would include:
If you notice any of these KPIs change or fall dramatically, then you can better know the improvements you can make to your membership engagement strategy.
Of course, these metrics may sound confusing or overwhelming, particularly for newer or smaller nonprofits. However, there is an entire market of nonprofit software and services that can affordably and effectively facilitate your entry into data tracking.
While you should appreciate all of your donors, it’s important to extend a bit of extra gratitude towards those who have gone above and beyond to support your cause. Of course, these devoted supporters are investing in a level of engagement that is sometimes difficult to meet.
By tracking the pulse point of member opinions, remaining attentive and responsive to their needs, and facing the challenge with insight and originality, your own nonprofit should be well on its way to maintaining an efficient and engaging membership program.