The force that drives any nonprofit association is the membership. They are the ones putting in the time, energy, and funding necessary for the association to exist. It is through the work of its members, that a nonprofit association’s mission is carried out. They are truly the heart of the organization. That said, many organizations struggle with membership growth and retention. They might be searching for the illusively magical solution to this problem only to find that it doesn’t exist. Instead, associations must understand the importance of membership marketing and remind themselves that successful marketing is much more of a process than an immediate solution. In order to do this, an organization must first understand its membership, secondly devise ways to attract new members, and finally figure out how to retain those memberships. 

Understanding Your Membership

Before you can build a successful membership program, you must first identify who your target audience is and why your membership will be beneficial for them. You can begin by collecting information about the demographics of your members including age, education, professional experience, geographic location, and professional development interests. Once you have collected this data, you can begin to focus on ways to reach your target audience. You also need to hone in on what concerns your prospective members might have, and how your membership program will meet their needs. Your marketing strategies should address these particular issues and be specifically geared towards your target audience.

Attracting New Members

To keep your organization going strong you need a steady flow of new members coming in. Member recruitment is an ongoing process that requires a great deal of planning and well-thought out recruitment strategies. There are many different techniques for attracting new members including email marketing, word-of-mouth and member referral programs, social media, events, direct mail, etc.  Again, focus on your target audience and who will fit your profile before deciding which recruitment techniques are best for your organization, and remember to be persistent. Use more than one technique to increase your reach and your impact.

Retaining Memberships

A common mistake for many nonprofit associations is to place too much focus on recruiting new members and not enough on retaining current ones. While new member marketing is exciting and certainly very important, existing members are actually more beneficial to the organization. After all, you have already convinced them that the organization is worth their while, so now you just have to remind them of how essential your membership is, and how much they are valued. Focus on the needs of your members and continuously work to meet their needs. Find out what they like and don’t like about their membership and make the necessary changes. Furthermore, make it worth their while by improving networking opportunities, volunteer opportunities, and educational programs.

With the right membership marketing strategies, over time you will see an increase in member engagement and hopefully an increase in memberships as well. By committing to the marketing process, you will be working toward achieving long-term goals that will be beneficial to your organization and its mission.