For organizations with membership programs, finding a way to consistently engage members on a long-term basis often feels easier said than done.
If you think your member engagement strategy might be lacking, never fear! In this article, we'll lay out 5 simple tips for increasing member engagement within your organization.
We'll show you how to:
- Offer a variety of involvement opportunities.
- Make your interactions personal (and relevant).
- Provide educational resources.
- Leverage your members' online presence.
- Keep retention in mind.
With our strategies in mind, you'll be well on your way to an excited, engaged group of members.
If you haven't started a membership program at your organization yet, why wait? Learn how membership programs can provide your supporters with new benefits and opportunities, and start your own today!
1. Offer a variety of involvement opportunities.
Depending on your organization's membership model, member events and activities might be a staple of your member stewardship strategy. Even if your program is more hands-off by nature, you too could benefit from providing active ways for members to get involved.
When the only interaction your members have with your organization is a monthly newsletter (or even worse, just an annual fees invoice), they'll be less likely to choose to renew their membership when the time comes.
If you want to keep your members connected to your cause, you'll need to give them plenty of options for involvement. For example, you might consider:
- Volunteer opportunities. Chances are, your members joined because they care about the cause your organization supports. There's no better way to have a hands-on impact than through volunteering, so offer your members opportunities for community service or helping out at your next event.
- Member appreciation events. Your members do a lot for your organization, so why not host an event dedicated to thanking them? Not only are member appreciation events fun to attend, but they promote community-building among members. (And meeting a group of like-minded, supportive individuals is a huge perk of membership programs!)
- Committees and task forces. Since your members are the backbone of your organization, let them get involved at an operational level. Hosting a fundraising event? Organize a planning committee! Planning your next advocacy initiative? Put together a dedicated task force to oversee the project.
No matter how you get your members involved, what's important is that you do. When members have plenty of choices for how they engage, they're more likely to find a way that works for them and continue supporting your cause on a long-term basis.
2. Make your interactions personal (and relevant).
It's tough to engage members who don't feel welcomed or valued within your organization. In order to keep members connected to your cause, you'll need to show them you care about them on a personal level.
You may be wondering how it's possible to interact with all of your many members on a one-on-one basis, but thanks to membership management software, giving your supporters individualized attention is no longer an issue.
Similar to how your nonprofit CRM stores donor data, membership management software tracks all of your members' information in a centralized database.
Not only will your software give you a clear picture of your members' interests, histories, and preferences, but it will also equip you with tools to make sure all your member communications are tailored to fit the members who receive them. You'll be able to:
- Approach members through their preferred communication channel. Use your membership management software to find the best way to contact your members. That way, you won't waste time emailing members who never check their inboxes, and you won't waste money sending direct mail to your most tech savvy supporters.
- Automate renewal reminders based on custom fee schedules. Who needs a blanket "Renew now!" message when you can easily send reminders to members who are actually near their membership expiration date?
- Store members' participation histories, and use those insights to inform your messages. When you know which members engaged most actively with past events or campaigns, you'll know whom to target first when advertising similar opportunities in the future.
With membership management software on your side, you'll be able to understand your members in a meaningful way and use that intel to craft a communications strategy that's right for each of your different supporters.
Bonus: If you haven't found your perfect software fit, we recommend checking out Double the Donation's list of top member management tools!
3. Provide educational resources.
In order to help your members grow as advocates of your nonprofit's mission, you can offer educational resources and exclusive content that your members can't find anywhere else.
When you help your members develop new skills and grow their knowledge, you're investing in the future of your organization's cause. After all, your members are some of the most dedicated supporters your nonprofit has, and they'll be the ones who make your goals a reality!
To provide valuable educational content for your members, consider the following strategies:
- Promote discussion online and in-person. Host a forum (or create one on your members' web portal) to encourage discussion about relevant issues in your community. By engaging with one another, your members will be able to brainstorm solutions, debate timely issues, and learn from one another.
- Offer workshops and classes. Bring in thought leaders and specialists from a related field to enlighten your members and teach them valuable skills they can use to better the world around them. Not only will your members have tangible growth to show for their membership fees, but they'll be excited to give back to your organization using their newfound knowledge.
- Curate fresh content. Make your website the hub of all things related to your cause by regularly providing relevant news articles and original blog posts. Designate a member of your staff to tackle these tasks, or set up a member committee. Ask members to contribute their thoughts, too!
By educating your members, you'll empower them to do even more for your organization. Not only will members thank you for the informative resources, but they'll feel more prepared to take on advocacy campaigns and engage with your cause in their own communities.
4. Leverage your members' online presence.
We've already touched on a few ways that your organization's website can play a part in your member engagement strategy, but actually, it's your members' online presence that can be the biggest game-changer for your membership program.
By understanding your members' online activity, you can better meet them where they want to be met. When your membership program has online engagement opportunities set up in the right places, you'll be amazed at how responsive your members are!
In order to use your members' online activity to its fullest potential, you should:
- Determine your members' preferred social media networks. Consult your membership management software to see which social media sites your members are active on. If you don't have this information available, take some time to analyze your membership program's demographic to gain some insight into the channels they're most likely using. (Or, you could always send out a survey and simply ask!)
- Create exclusive communities. Some social media sites make it easy to create protected groups or pages where your organization can house discussions and membership-related posts. And don't forget: your membership software can help you set up a member portal where members can interact with one another and with your organization.
- Make sure you're mobile-friendly. More than likely, a large percentage of your members will be accessing your web content from the convenience of their smartphones. Go the extra mile to make sure your member portal, organization website, and all emails are optimized for mobile access.
In the digital age, it's important to take advantage of online engagement opportunities. Modernize your membership program by taking it online!
5. Keep retention in mind.
As you plan your member engagement strategy, it's easy to get overwhelmed with all the different elements and become distracted from your goals.
No matter what your engagement targets are, your main goal should always be the same: to keep your members coming back year after year!
Retention is easiest when you show your donors your appreciation. Recognizing their support promotes positive donor relationships and encourages further gifts from them.
When retention is at the front of your mind throughout the engagement process, you'll be more likely to design initiatives that encourage your members to stay active from one renewal period to the next.
Additionally, you can make retention a more manageable effort when you:
- Automate renewal-related tasks. Some membership management software allows members to automate recurring membership payments so that they never have to worry about re-subscribing. Or, you can automate personalized renewal reminders to specific members based on a custom schedule.
- Optimize the renewal experience. Make sure your membership application is easily accessible and hassle-free to complete. Whether your form is online or on paper, it should be well-designed and user-friendly.
- Add value to your member renewal letter. Unfortunately, member renewal letters are a forgotten art for many organizations with membership programs. Add value to your letter by reminding your members of your program's benefits in a personalized way.
The renewal process shouldn't keep your members from staying engaged for another term, so keep retention in mind from the beginning.
Show your members how much you appreciate their involvement by creating a member engagement strategy that caters to their needs and adds unique value to their membership experience.
With these tips in mind, you should have no problem planning engagement opportunities that leave your members more empowered than ever and excited to stay a part of your program for years to come.
For more ways to engage your members, check out these resources:
- Learn 7 more ways to take your membership engagement to the next level.
- Start a stellar membership program with these simple steps.
- Find the right member management software to maximize engagement.
- Are you a fraternity or sorority? These greek-specific recruitment tips should help you get new members.