Since the beginning of the pandemic, you may have seen a large drop-off in your member involvement as people faced difficult times emotionally, socially, and financially.
It may feel like they’ve forgotten about you, but it may just be that your members have simply lost momentum. So how can you fix that?
Creating a good member experience and fostering a community is important in any situation, but especially so when you need to re-motivate your members. COVID-19 changed a lot of things, so we may need to adjust our methods for creating a good membership experience. Ensuring that your members feel appreciated and enjoy working with your specific organization is important for keeping your current members and attracting new ones.
These are some of the ideas we’re sharing about creating a better member experience:
- Streamline your communications
- Improve your existing membership program
- Pick the right membership software
- Promote involvement
- Simplify and go digital
Similar to how your organization had to get creative to come up with virtual fundraising ideas to adapt to the changes that COVID-19 brought, it’s time to get creative about your membership program.
Streamline your communications
If your communications to your members are met with crickets, it’s likely that you are either under or over-communicating. If you are rarely communicating with or updating your members, they are unlikely to see your messages as important. Alternatively, if you are sending six short emails that could have easily been one, your members will become fatigued and stop reading. Reflect on how you’re communicating and why your members may be unresponsive.
It’s important to be cognizant of how and where you are communicating with your members. Different methods of communication require different levels of consistency and will reach different demographics of your membership base.
- Social media: This is the best space for very frequent communication. Here you should focus on sharing updates, behind the scenes media, and promotional content to build your brand. Keep it short, exciting, and easy to take in.
- Newsletters: You don’t want these to be as frequent as your social media posts, but you want to maintain a consistent schedule. Use your newsletters to highlight what’s going on with your organization in a slightly more in-depth manner.
- Personal communications: If you are reaching out to members individually, by phone call, for example, you want to be careful not to do this too often. This is usually the easiest way to get a commitment out of someone, but it can also feel invasive if it happens too frequently.
Communication and the expectations surrounding it have changed a lot, even in just the last few years. You and your members may have different ideas of what is exciting and necessary communication. Evaluate what has and hasn’t been working and have some conversations with your members in order to adjust your communication strategy as needed.
Improve your existing membership program
Is your application process cumbersome and long? Are your dues difficult to pay? Do you express gratitude to your members frequently?
These are only a few of the things that you should consider when evaluating your existing membership program. It can be easy to lose sight of the member experience when you’re on the other side of the door, but it’s important to step into their shoes. Think about what would encourage or discourage you from becoming or remaining a member of an organization.
One of the most important aspects to consider is simply how easy or difficult it is to become and remain a member of your organization. If you’re going to overhaul any process in your membership program, the first should be your application and dues process to make them as easy as possible. This is where a great website and membership management system really come in handy.
When you’re confident that the technical kinks and barriers are taken care of, it may be time to consider if your program needs some cosmetic fixes too. Double the Donation’s guide to nonprofit membership programs recommends offering membership benefits. Merchandise or early access to events can make members feel special and appreciated. Remember, a member who feels appreciated is a lot more likely to stick around!
Depending on the nature of your specific organization, certain perks or aspects of membership may make more sense. Whatever you choose to start up or improve as part of your program, always keep your members in mind. Ultimately, the purpose is to make them feel appreciated and to make it worth their while to support your organization with their membership.
Pick the right membership software
Good membership software can do a lot of things for you. Beyond simply improving organization for you, it can also be beneficial for your members. Depending on the software you choose, it may also enable you to offer new features for your members’ convenience.
For example, if some of your members’ employers offer a volunteer time matching program, tracking hours through your membership software can actually increase your funds effortlessly. Here are a few other examples of things you can do with membership software:
- Track volunteer hours
- Display a calendar with events
- Send emails easily to your members
- Collect member dues online
- Budgeting and accounting
If you’ve identified your needs and what features you want to be able to offer your members and your team, investing in a new membership management system can make a huge difference. Your top priority should be convenience for your needs and ease of use for your members.
Do you ever feel like your members signed up and then disappeared? If there wasn’t adequate communication or it wasn’t clear what they could get involved in, your members may have lost interest. Luckily, you can fix this. Here are a few ways to re-engage your membership base and start getting them involved again:
- Make personal calls: This is usually the quickest way to get a commitment from someone and also helps to foster a personal connection. Be cognizant of not making this call strictly business – you want the person you’re calling to feel as if the call is personal and not just a solicitation.
- Turn volunteering into a game: Award points to members as they log volunteer hours to create a little bit of healthy competition. You can display the tally of points at your physical location or online. When members reach a certain amount of points, consider letting them “cash in” their points for small gifts like your nonprofit’s merchandise or gift cards to local businesses. You could even challenge your members to see who can raise the most through sharing your crowdfunding campaigns.
- Host social events to build community: When your members feel personally connected to your organization, your staff, and the other members, they are much more likely to want to spend their time volunteering at your organization with other members. Host regular small events to create a sense of community and help everyone get to know each other.
- Communicate regularly: While you don’t want to overcommunicate as we discussed earlier, you definitely don’t want to leave your members in the dark either. Keep them up to date about what’s going on with your organization and what opportunities are available for them to get involved.
While your members may have initially joined because they were excited about your cause, they may lose some of that initial excitement as life gets busy if you don’t properly engage them. Making it both easy and fun for them to stay updated and get involved will help them hold onto that motivation to play a role in your organization.
Simplify and go digital
Reducing the amount of loose paperwork that is floating around will improve your organization, speed up many processes, and make it easier for your members as well. Having great member management software helps make this an easy transition. Here are a few tips for improving your members’ online experience:
- Make sure your website is user-friendly: If your website is difficult to navigate, your members will be averse to using it. Ensuring a pleasant and simple user experience should be a priority. Have several people test out your website to see if they get stuck anywhere or get confused.
- Regularly check inboxes: If you’re encouraging your members to reach you digitally but you’re not being responsive, they are likely to go back to the old way of communicating with you. Put in the same amount of effort into communicating digitally as your members.
- Manage memberships online: Collecting dues in one place online will be easier for you and your members. This also makes it much easier to apply for membership and to manage incoming applications. Membership management software allows you to do all this easily and quickly access a list of all of your members and their information.
Going digital doesn’t have to be a hassle and should help you better manage your membership program and organization as a whole. As you transition, make it a priority to communicate the changes to your members and make you and your team available to help anyone who needs help understanding how to use the new system.
Even if you’re feeling discouraged by a recent lack of involvement from your members, with these suggestions you can find the best way to restore their dedication to your organization.
And as your members renew their involvement, you can use Fundly’s list of 150 ways to fundraise to get your newly motivated members involved right away. Keeping the momentum going with involvement can go a long way for retaining active members. With a strong membership base that supports and helps your organization, you and your team can accomplish so much. Good luck!