Annually, Canadians give $14 billion to registered nonprofit organizations. For this reason, members are naturally one of the vital keys to success if you’re looking to sustain and grow your association. However, the problem is that many nonprofits make the mistake of prioritizing finding new members instead of ensuring their existing ones are happy. So while it’s necessary to recruit new members, you need to retain your current members’ support to accomplish your goals. Here are 6 Best Practices for nonprofit membership retention.
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10 Best Practices For Nonprofit Membership Retention
Use these nonprofit membership retention best practices to ensure your organization survives and thrives in the long-run.
1. Recognize Members
Our first best practice for nonprofit membership retention is focusing on what your members do for you. Members are involved with your organization because they want to help and learn, but many would also like to be recognized for their contributions.
Retention begins the day they become a member. Recognize members at every level of membership. List and thank new members, or those who have just renewed, in your organization’s newsletter or your next meeting. Send them a welcome letter or one thanking them for renewing. Have small honours or notices for members who have hit the 5-or 10-year milestone. Consider rewarding them with prizes or tokens of appreciation.
2. Reward Longtime Members
Long-time members are vital to your organization. Reward them with useful resources or valuable experiences that are only available to longtime members. Consider discounts and invitations to special events; give them more of a voice in your nonprofit and more opportunities for involvement. Reward them with recognition as well, whether it be in your newsletter or on your website.
3. Member Only Benefits
Members are interested or passionate about your cause, and they want to feel like they’re making a difference. Communicate with them often in weekly or monthly newsletters as well as social media. Provide perks such as exclusive, member-only offers from your partners as well as networking opportunities. If possible, provide educational opportunities such as webinars, workshops and relevant books at member-only prices.
4. Build a Community Your Members Don’t Want to Leave
People like feeling like they’re part of a community. Create this feeling of community through social events for your members. Help build friendships by introducing members to one another and giving them a place or event to meet regularly. Make sure old members embrace new members. Interact with them, engage them at events, and ask them to serve on committees and give valued feedback. It’s important to show your members how much you appreciate them.
5. Offer Renewal Discounts
When association members don’t renew their membership, it’s often not because they’re no longer interested but rather because they forget to do so. Start reminding them early that their membership is expiring. Offer incentives such as a 10% discount for early renewal or perhaps a gift card to a popular store. You can also offer a discount for multiple-year renewal. Ensure that they know they are an important part of your association and that renewing early helps both them and your organization.
6. Remind Them of The Value They’ve Received
Don’t assume that members are aware of how their membership has benefitted them over the last year. In your end-of-year communications to members, remind them of the benefits they’ve received and also how much value their membership brings to your organization.
7. Have an onboarding plan
Engaged members are far more likely to return, so having an onboarding plan is a no brainer for nonprofit membership retention. Thus, giving new members opportunities to participate in your grassroots efforts is a vital aspect of showing and resonating the importance of your organisation’s work.
8. Make the renewal process automatic
Similar to any mainstream services or membership-based assosciations, you should be making your renewal process automatic. Why? By making it a default process with new members, perhaps even laden with incentives and discounts you’re sure to retainy these members – especially when they forget to cancel!
9. Allow members to pause their membership
On the flip side, you need to allow members to pause or cancel their membership at any time. 2020 was a great example that anything could happen anytime, whether that’s an illness, economic hardship, or personal reasons. Organizations have to be prepared to respond and adapt to their members’ situations.
10. Send exit surveys to members who leave
There will always be members who want to cancel – and that’s perfectly fine. However, to capture unique insight into why members are leaving, you should offer an exit survey. The data you gather can uncover pitfalls or parts of your organization that can be reviewed and improved upon.