How to build a strong membership program

So you’ve decided to establish a membership scheme, or you want to boost your membership numbers, but you’re not sure where to start? The tips below will help get you started.

Use your contacts

Ask your current members to encourage friends, family and acquaintances to join your organisation. You could ask them to boost your organisation’s profile by sharing its information on social media, or by sending an email around their office. It doesn’t matter how they do it, so long as they’re telling people (good things) about your group.

Remember that your members are members for a reason – they care about your cause, so it makes sense to ask them to channel that passion by spreading the word.

Use what you have (your database)

Another resource you can use is your database of contacts, including current and previous donors and supporters. Chances are, if a person has donated to your cause in the past, they like what you do and may want to get involved.

You may choose to send out personalised emails to prospective members inviting them to join your organisation. Just make sure to check privacy and spam legislation to see if there are laws that could impact on your strategy – see here for more.

Hold a membership drive

To go broader, you may decide to conduct a membership drive, whereby you invite a broad base of people in the community to join the organisation. A membership drive can be done once a year to increase your group’s profile in the community, and there are a variety of ways to conduct one.

You may decide to send out a mass direct mailing (by post or email) inviting people to join the organisation, or you may choose to distribute pamphlets or put effort into a social media campaign. The important thing is that you let people know what your group does and why they should join up. A membership drive will require you to think about who your supporters and prospective members are, including what they may be willing or able to pay, and what a membership will mean to them.

Use the invitation to include information about what their membership will offer your organisation (how they can help), and what you can offer them in return. Include details about the different levels of membership available, if any. You must also include a "call to action" – if they want to join, how do they do it? Attach a membership sign-up form to your email. Even better, consider setting up a web form (so people can click and join immediately).

Make it easy

The most important thing is to make the process as streamlined as possible. You don’t want it to be a hassle for people to join. You may want to formulate an “elevator pitch” that describes your organisation’s purpose, which you can ask volunteers and current members to use when recruiting new members.

OUR TIP: Have a script for volunteers and current members to use when recruiting new members to your organisation, which describes your organisation’s purpose. If a current member can’t explain your organisation’s cause simply, how can you expect anyone to join?

And then, have a simple online member registration option to send through to interested parties as soon as possible. The low cost and accessible membership registration feature on GiveNow is an excellent option for Australian community groups.

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