When inflation is high, it’s common for people to cut expenses by deciding not to renew subscriptions and memberships. For charities and associations that depend on membership fees, this trend can be distressing — if not catastrophic. If your not-for-profit’s membership rolls are declining due to nonrenewals, you need to address the problem immediately. Here are some ideas for keeping members in the fold.
Matching offerings to needs
To keep members, you may have to offer something they need. For example, offer education, networking opportunities, research, discounts or credentials. And the only sure way to get a handle on what your members need is to ask them.
Accomplish this through formal surveys, focus groups and online polls as well as by simply asking your members when you talk with them. How are your products or services meeting their needs? What do they need that you’re not providing? Needs aren’t static, and a lot has changed over the past few years. So check in with members regularly.
Communicating your value
Providing the right offerings is important. But you also must emphasize your organization’s value proposition. This is the unique experience that your members have when they interact with your nonprofit and its offerings.
Try making an emotional appeal that taps into the intangibles of being part of your group. Depending on your mission, you might tout the value of individuals banding together to create a powerful voice for change, the chance to help improve the conditions in your community or the ability to network with local or industry leaders.
Meeting members where they are
In general, members who are deeply involved will stick with your organization. Create as many avenues as you can for members to participate, for example, as board and committee members, event volunteers, or publication contributors.
Treat members as individuals whenever possible. Always address correspondence to them specifically (never to “member at large”) and consider offering them personalized content when they visit your website. Also make sure that it’s easy to renew membership through your website and that the renewal process enables multiyear memberships — possibly at a discounted rate.
If you don’t already, work your social media channels. Give members reasons to follow you by regularly posting updates, event photos and other engaging material. If your group is top of mind, members will find it harder to abandon you.
Finally, don’t avoid financial realities. Acknowledge that times are hard and you understand that members may face cash crunches. If possible, you might want to discount your membership fees temporarily to encourage renewals — and new memberships.