A membership scheme (or, in the case of schools, an alumni program) allows you to bring together…
If your membership numbers are going down year on year, you need to act – fast.
A healthy membership leads to a thriving organisation, yet even strong groups need to pay close attention to maintaining and boosting their membership numbers.
Some of the ways your group can do this are outlined below.
Be relevant to their concerns.Guard against mission drift. Members have joined your group because of its work, its stance on an issue or the cause it supports. Make sure you stay true to those values and aims.
Have a structure that makes sense.Make sure you have a constitution, an organisational chart, and an office culture that allocates responsibility and emphasises teamwork. Make sure your members know how it all works, and where they fit into the picture.
Consult with members.Where you can, ask members what they want. Surveys can be handy for this (you can set up an online survey for free using tools like SurveyMonkey), as can a few random phone calls each month.
Appoint a membership co-ordinator.Choose someone who’s both personable and a stickler for systems and records. They need to be able to look after existing members, but also know the networks well enough to recruit new ones.
Put memberships on the agenda.Include membership growth as an agenda item at your group's board meetings every quarter. You can’t afford to let it slip.
Set, revise and review targets.Targets for memberships should be set each year, reviewed regularly and revised if needed.
If you ignore this step you risk stagnation.
Set a membership "season".Set aside a period of time where your group and its volunteers work extra hard to attract memberships.
Use the public domain.Think about the sorts of people who might be interested in your organisation, and then think about where they hang out. Do they visit gyms? Libraries? The local council offices? Do they use online noticeboards? What newspapers and magazines do they read? Try to get information about your group under the noses of as many potential members as possible.
Provide the right member services.Try to strike a balance between encouraging people to do the right thing (i.e. pay their membership fees) for "doing the right thing's sake" and having special (or at least desirable) offers.
Lobby for your cause.Being visible and prominent shows members that you are active and vocal, which means people who believe in your cause will be more likely to become members.
Use public relations to build your profile.Building your organisation’s profile by being in the public eye will increase your chances of membership growth – people won’t join up if they’ve never heard of you!
Keep existing members before recruiting new ones.Be sure that you know your retention rate from year to year. If it's less than 90%, you’ll need to investigate why.
It can be tempting to levy a joining fee on top of annual fees, but be aware that they can act as a real disincentive to people joining up.
In fact, some groups provide a discount in the first year.