For-profit businesses understand that it takes a lot more time and money to attract new customers than it does to keep current customers happy. The same can be said for your not-for-profit’s members. But there’s more to retention than cost savings. Long-time supporters help attract new members and are ideal candidates for leadership positions on boards and committees.
So, how do you keep members in the fold? Focus on needs, value and engagement.
Give the people what they need
It may seem pretty basic, but to keep members you have to offer something that they need: for example, 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 to them. How are your products and services meeting their needs? What do they need that you’re not providing? Needs aren’t static, so check in with members on an ongoing basis.
Offering the right mix of products and services is a great first step. 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 important thinkers.
Promote deep engagement
Members who are deeply involved will stick with your nonprofit. Create as many avenues as you can for members to participate as, for example, board and committee members, event managers, or publication contributors.
Treat your members as individuals whenever possible. Always address correspondence to them specifically (never to “member at large”) and offer them personalized content when they visit your website.
One last idea
This member-retention idea might be the easiest to implement: Offer multiyear memberships. Some people will opt for the simplicity of handling their membership paperwork once every two or three years rather than on an annual basis.