Membership is an organization’s most valuable asset. Without loyal members, your group will cease to exist. That is why it is so important to allocate a significant portion of your budget, time, and focus to retaining existing supporters while also adding new ones. Every expert has tips for success, but these are by far the best ones I've seen organizations make use of in spanning my 20 years of experience.
1. Define your value proposition
Your organization’s value proposition can be defined as the answer to the question: Why should I choose this organization over another? It’s your key differential, your competitive advantage, and what members should refer to when they explain why they chose to join. Being able to identify and drive value will help you build the foundation for your marketing strategies and materials – it should be front and center on your website. In order to sell it, you need to make sure all of your staff, volunteers, and members know and understand what it is – if they can’t, then what you consider to be your organization’s most unique quality might not actually be all that unique.
2. Market where your members are
The key to gaining and retaining members is to stay constantly visible, including digitally. Be present on the social media channels and online groups they’re in. Advertise in industry-specific publications and participate in industry-related events. Send email newsletters and updates. As a leader of your organization, you should be viewed as a credible source in the space. If you’re not constantly marketing your group on and offline, how will your members know who you are?
3. Leverage a member referral program
No marketing strategy can beat personal recommendations and word of mouth. Great referral programs leverage members who are advocates of your organization. Your advocates should be willing to promote all the benefits they’ve gained by being a loyal member. If you haven’t pursued this before, make sure the process is simple and easy for your members to recruit on your behalf by providing relevant materials and incentives for doing so. Incentives can come in the form of free entry to an event or a discount on their membership.
And if you are already utilizing this strategy, track its success and seek ways to continue to improve it. Always keep in mind that your constituents are your greatest assets. Make sure they are well equipped with training to answer questions and positively represent your organization.
4. Keep your existing members happy
Retaining your current members is even more important than obtaining new ones. Nothing defines a successful organization more than loyal supporters. The fewer you lose, the easier it will be to reach your growth goals and the less resources you’ll have to spend to do it. The key to maintaining your current membership base is to always drive value. Secondary to that is making it convenient to remain as a member of your organization. It’s critical to continually communicate your value to members, whether it’s through marketing automation, event notifications, email campaigns, or social media posts. Listen to your members as well – get feedback and their thoughts on how well you’re providing value. Take that information to further improve your value proposition and stay relevant in our ever-changing technological and social landscapes.
These four tips can help an organization not just stay current in appealing to younger demographics, they also ensure that it continues to excel and deliver membership that is valuable and accessible. To learn more about how memberplanet can bolster membership for your organization or association, check out our dynamic solutions.
Updated since original publication on 6/24/19.
We’re all guilty of scrolling through Facebook or Instagram before our heads hit the pillow at night. While social media has become a popular way to kill time, it also has many practical uses.
As an organization leader, you are already aware of the necessity of branding across various platforms, so here are our top five ways to bolster your online presence by optimizing your social media engagement strategy, first and foremost with your own constituents.
1. Deliver digestible bits
Newsletters are great for providing various bits of information to your members all at once. Social media is best for delivering a brief, compelling message to a large audience, but you only have a small window of time to get users to interact with your post. Providing relevant, unique and easily digestible bits of info should be the focus of your social media strategy. Nobody wants to scroll through a Facebook post or read a tweet with three continuations. You can prompt users to click through to a website by providing a URL within your post where they can access more information.
2. Promote your cause
Social media is an efficient and cost-effective way to broaden the reach of your cause, mission, fundraising campaign, or any other promotion. Whenever you send emails to your members, ask them to follow your organization’s social media handles. And make sure your posts tie in the cause or mission that appeals to your followers. People in the United States average two hours per day checking social media, making it a great promotion tool.
Note to memberplanet users: You can easily share your event or donation site to social media directly from the platforms. Group admins and members can also do this directly from the event site, donation site, or mobile app.
3. Include video
You don’t have to be Einstein to figure out that social media users watch A LOT of video. Our own metrics reveal that video posts on Facebook and Instagram get about double the engagement than photo posts. So consider creating a short video explaining your cause. There are a bunch of free services online, such as Canva, that allow you to easily edit and download your video. Live video content has been on the rise; on Facebook, 1 in 5 videos is a live broadcast. You can get more exposure by finding creative ways to use features like Facebook Live or Instagram stories to get your message out.
memberplanet users: Adding a video to your donation site, event site, or email is also quick and easy.
4. Utilize a social media calendar
Hiring a social media manager or finding a volunteer who’s up for the task is a great way to stay organized and on top of your online presence. A social media manager is responsible for curating and creating content and making sure it gets posted at the right time.
If you’re a team of one, utilize a social media calendar to minimize your time spent creating content. Hubspot has a free calendar template you can use to get started. Knowing when to post and what to post will help you strategically plan content for your members, as opposed to overwhelming their feeds or posting haphazardly.
5. Target the platforms your audience use
Facebook is the most popular social media platform (2.74 billion monthly active users) but you shouldn’t limit yourself to one network. We recommend using the social media platforms your target demographics use. Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter are major players in terms of their reach. By creating a diverse portfolio of social media strategies, you are likely to connect with more members and prospects. Twitter is a great way to get out a short, timely message and interact with a large audience, especially if you use hashtags effectively. LinkedIn's largest group of users is older, 46-55, in comparison.
You can provide links to your website or event page. memberplanet’s donation, event, survey, and payment form modules have built-in URL shorteners, so you can save space for the character limit. (There’s no excuse for putting out an ugly tweet.)
Social media is great tool for spreading the word about events, campaigns, and general information about your organization. It allows you to be social (obviously) and interact with your constituents consistently and in real time without flooding their inboxes with emails. Building a strong online presence can also attract the attention of potential members while keeping current ones engaged.
Follow us on social media for more social media and membership management tips.
Updated since original publication on 10/5/2017.
Launching your online fundraising campaign is quick and easy when you’re working off a template – and we’ve got new ones for you and your organization! Whether you’re leading a local nonprofit, chapter, or national association, we’ve got you covered. Check out templates and fundraising ideas for multiple causes, including Earth Day, food and grocery donations, and school/PTA campaigns.
Looking for survey and payment form templates? Yes, memberplanet has those too!
Templates images (click to view a larger image):
Pro Tip: If you are selling items that need to be picked up, set up a payment notification via SMS text.
Template image (click to view a larger image):
Benefits of Managing School Fundraising Events Online
Note: Collecting funds on the memberplanet platform incurs a platform fee and payment processing fee. Please see Pricing for details.
Effective PTA leaders have many duties. They have endless parenting obligations, and must commit to becoming a resource to other parents in the community. PTA leaders focus on fundraising because they firmly believe their altruism will help not just their children, but all the children of that school community. As a PTA leader, you might find it challenging to balance these responsibilities. Take the time to understand the online tools at your disposal, and your local PTA will reap many exciting and lucrative benefits.
Social media reaches more people
The number of social media users is growing exponentially. According to Hootsuite and We Are Social, more than 4 billion people around the world use social media each month since October 2020, which was an increase of more than 12 percent in the prior year.
More than 4 billion people around the world use social media each month.
It makes perfect sense for PTA leaders to consider how using social media can boost fundraising by targeting specific audiences. For example, The Balance Small Business claims that millennials (the first generation who grew up plugged into the internet) prefer online and social giving. Take a look at how connected to technology your PTA members are. Using smartphones have become a way of life for most. Utilize and mobilize your social media presence to spread the word about fundraising events.
Mobile and online payments simplify the process
Offering online and/or mobile payment and donation options do more than just help you broaden your reach. They remove the need for donors to have cash and checks on hand. Accepting online payments leverages today’s tech with potential donors - it’s only a few clicks from decision to completion of payment. That’s why online donation campaigns see more overall dollars collected. It’s not just easy, it’s a familiar process that donors feel innately comfortable with. According to a Cone Communications study, 48 percent of American adults are likely to use an app to make a donation. What are you waiting for? You can broaden your reach (and increase your donations) by using mobile and online payment methods.
Effective imagery and videos improve engagement
Whether you are looking to grab the attention of potential donors, spread the word about a cause, or inspire volunteerism, utilizing images and videos are powerful storytelling tools. Use imagery that appeals to your donors' emotions, and shows the needs for funds and benefits of giving - it beats text-heavy messages.
According to The Guardian, people are more likely to donate to a cause when it means something to them. This is also why crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising are so effective. Use effective imagery and video to help tell your story, and let them feel connected to the cause you want them to support.
Email drives donations
Email is a powerful tool for driving PTA social media presence and donations. Just ask the people behind the M&R Benchmarks Study who found that for every 1,000 fundraising emails delivered, a nonprofit organization raises $45 on average. When you make emails engaging and fun, you might even pick up some email subscribers.
Keeping your email contacts organized in an online platform makes it seamless to communicate with your whole audience and track their responses. You can test and target your messages to specific recipients, and optimize your fundraising efforts to meet your goals every time.
Beyond emails, organizing your contacts on the platform into customized distribution lists drives engagement in a specific way most suited to your needs. Set them up to send thank-you messages anytime someone donates, or send donation campaign details to any new contacts. Your options aren’t limitless, they’re better: They’re specifics built exactly for you and your local PTA.
By making the most of online tools such as social media, electronic payment options, photo sharing, and email, you can be more successful in your fundraising efforts. memberplanet's integrated platform makes it easy to use these tools, and offers local PTAs an edge that will make managing fundraising events more effective and engaging.
Learn more about fundraising on the memberplanet blog.
PTA Simplified is a series of tips for PTA and PTO leaders to get the most out of a powerful association management system – to manage, engage, and grow their membership all year long.
Updated since original publication on 9/22/2017.
We’re excited to announce that memberplanet received recognition in Digital’s Best Membership Management Software of 2021! Its research team conducted a 40-hour assessment of more than 90 solutions, and the platforms were selected based on core features and customer feedback. (You can read full details in Digital’s press release.)
It is always an honor to be recognized for our mission, which is to simplify membership management. It is our constant focus! We use market best practices and feedback from our clients to refine and augment our platform’s functionality – on a regular basis – so that we can help our partners be even more productive in today’s ever-changing digital landscape.
Our team is also passionate about providing exemplary support to all our partners – associations, nonprofits, PTAs, foundations, chapters, or any other type of organization – as well as coaching their administrative staff.
If you’re looking for a powerful association management system (AMS) or all-in-one platform, visit memberplanet.com to learn how we can help you manage members, engage constituents, and grow membership.
About 90 percent of text messages are read within three minutes, and the open rate for SMS text is as high as 98 percent, according to Gartner. This is probably common knowledge if you’re a marketer or communications professional, but those who are in charge of day-to-day membership operations, communications, and events (whether virtual or not) should also take advantage of this.
While there’s no shortage of mass text messaging apps in cyberspace, the main benefit of using an integrated platform is that you get the metrics you need associated with membership. There’s no wasted time in exporting contact lists, uploading to a separate text messaging app, then downloading and filtering data based on opens and responses. A true membership management solution houses all of that functionality in one system, making multi-channel communication more efficient, convenient, and productive.
Group text messaging can be incredibly useful, but it can also be overused. Here are four main guidelines to stick to when deciding whether or not to email or text members or other administrators in your organization.
1. You have an urgent announcement
Before you send your mass text message, ask yourself: Is this urgent? The reason SMS open rates are so high is because the majority of people, including your members, have their phones close by. It only takes a few non-urgent messages before they’re annoyed with the frequency of your sends. Just like mass emailing, consumers have the capability to opt out of mass text messaging – so text sparingly and only when there is real urgency. If you think your message can wait to be read, use email.
2. Your message is short
Even if you have an urgent message that you need to broadcast, it’s still safe to say the average person doesn’t want to scroll through paragraphs in a text message. A good rule of thumb is keeping within the character count of a Twitter post. You can always send a detailed email, then if necessary, send a text that mentions the subject line and to check the email for full details.
3. You need an immediate response
When you are looking for a quick turnaround on responses, text messaging is the way to go. Viable mass text solutions differ from regular text messages and group chat apps – even if you text multiple contacts, only you will receive their responses (unlike those annoying text chain messages).
4. The time is right
Lastly, it’s common courtesy to send and schedule texts during regular business hours, unless you’re running a widely publicized event or campaign and your contacts expect messages from your organization. I can’t speak for anyone else, but my Saturday mornings are pretty sacred.
Stick to the best practices above, use common sense, and you’ll be golden. memberplanet’s Broadcast feature lets administrative users send SMS text messages and email simultaneously, from a custom text number (so your members or constituents can tell it’s coming from your organization). You can learn more about this feature and our fully integrated membership management platform by scheduling a demo with our team.
The adage about things changing but staying the same often feels out of date as the world moves faster and faster, and the technology in our hands does more, listens better, speaks, and buzzes without our interference. Still, we need to be reminded daily about a litany of things both large and small. We use everything from checklists and notes to apps and alarms to ensure our tasks aren’t forgotten. Your association’s ongoing success is in part defined by how aware your members are of what is vital and happening within it. These 5 email reminders are crucial to keeping your membership engaged and current with relevant information from your association.
1. Member benefits
Always lead with the what’s-in-it-for-them approach. Emails arrive in an almost constant stream in everyone’s inbox these days, and users get notified on their mobile phones; make sure yours isn’t swiped left into the garbage by sending benefit reminder emails. These tidbits reiterate the value of your association and keep it at the forefront of readers’ minds.
Benefit reminder emails can come in the form of a newsletter that includes related membership perks; they can also highlight little known or often unused benefits like access to your association’s trade magazine or a calendar of free members-only events and discounts.
2. Membership renewal reminders
This is perhaps the most important email associations should be sending to their members. Renewal dates can be forgotten, or slip by in a person’s busy daily schedule. A renewal email reminder is not only a benefit to members, it also helps improve retention, which is a benefit to your association.
Your association management system (AMS) or membership management software should let staff automate and customize renewal reminders so members are only a few clicks from completing the process. It is standard functionality to set up reminders according to rolling renewal periods, frequency of emails, and how many days before renewal each email is sent.
3. Virtual events
Attendance is paramount to more than just the success of a particular event; it’s also vital to the growth of your association. Utilize email reminders to inform constituents of annual conventions and important events on your association’s calendar. Provide registrants with relevant details like webinar start times and the schedule of activities, as well as reminding them of your code of conduct when interacting online and other event-specific information.
Event emails can remind constituents of the events they’ve previously RSVP’d to. Your association staff should have the capability to customize and automate email reminders with your event management software so that all registrants receive a personalized notification before the event.
4. Donation campaigns
When the task at hand is raising money, awareness is key. Campaign reminders help boost promotion, further spreading your reach while increasing the likelihood of achieving your goal. Take advantage of your member’s social networks by including a campaign link in your reminder email so they can easily share it. After all, they’re your best ambassadors!
If your association is a 501(c)(3) organization, you can include your tax ID number among other relevant information to remind members their donations are tax deductible. Association staff should also use their fundraising solution to set up automated thank-you emails that go out after someone donates. It’s a great way to complete the donation circle with members so they feel their effort is appreciated.
5. Industry news
Informed members are empowered members. Your association should be a thought leader in its area of focus. Use email reminders to ensure there’s a strong baseline of thought-provoking articles, trending updates, and educational resources sent to your membership. This is a great place to share links to your online magazine or blog articles; you can even include an online form for members to sign up to receive blog or article updates by topic. It’s a wonderful way to share content, videos, virtual event highlights, and research with your entire membership.
Don’t hesitate to take advantage of the power of email reminders. If you keep your members engaged and informed of all your association has to offer, you will continue to achieve its goals. To learn more about an AMS that can simplify the tasks mentioned above, schedule a call with the memberplanet team.
Updated since original publication on 2/6/20.
Great trainers are naturally great leaders. And by definition, great leaders are those who inspire confidence, strength, and optimism. They are the folks who can motivate – not force – their administrators to reach their fullest potential as they ascend to a new role or take on greater responsibilities. And we all know how important a good trainer is during officer or staff transitions.
The term admin can be applied broadly – it can mean your committee heads, officers, or anyone you’ve put in charge of tasks that keep your organization running smoothly, whether it’s an association, chapter, or other type of membership-based group. As far as training the best admins goes, a great trainer/leader uses methods that can be boiled down to a few guiding principles. I call them 5 Keys to Training Your Staff Admins; master these, and your team will be set for success.
For every specific skill or task to be instructed to your team admins, explain first what it is you’re about to share. More importantly, explain why it is important for your organization. How does it work in its specific scope? How does it affect the overall team? It’s important to give a sense of the overall flowchart of the group and the admin’s role within it.
“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”
You’ve provided the instructions to light the path. Now have your team show you how to do it. You’ll be able to see if how much they’ve retained from their training, and how well they apply their knowledge and adapt to different situations. Of course, knowing what you know, don’t keep them in the dark. Adjust the course when necessary. Encourage and empathize.
We are all individuals (maybe some are more like rebels) in the world, and personality will eventually be revealed, especially in the course of training. Make time to discover your admins’ own skills and experience. Do they enjoy a steady pace? Or do they work best at light speed? But be sure to recognize their different ways of learning, and be open to adapt to give each of them the answers they’ll need ongoing.
Grow your staff admins. As they navigate their new role, give them space to make mistakes – that’s how we really learn. Assign a project or task as a test (e.g. an upcoming social event, or a fundraising campaign, or a yearly calendar of projects) and see how they rise to the challenge. Let them own it. If they can construct it, it’s like a rite of passage.
Provide support and feedback. Work with each admin to set up short- and long-term goals for themselves and the organization and make sure they know how to use the tools available to them. On the feedback loop, too, show them what’s been done previously by their predecessors. Encourage them to find ways to innovate and improve efficiency while building on past successes and the great work that’s already been done.
Even after they’ve completed their training, seek out your staff admins’ feedback and listen to their perspectives. Learning is a two-way street, and hearing from them will bolster your own knowledge and help you further educate them.
When your admins are confident that you as their trainer/leader have their back and their interests at heart, they’ll operate at peak productivity, and they will lead the rest of the organization in the way they’ve been instructed. This is the way to build a lasting team and community.
“Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.”
Updated since original publication on 02/12/18.
Are your current methods of virtual engagement helping you reach your membership goals? By promoting the value and benefits of your association’s membership through engagement, you can position yourself to attract new members while also maintaining and interacting with your existing membership base. Here are a few tips to showcase your value and increase your network:
1. Engage on social media
Update your members with upcoming meetings and events while keeping them engaged with polls and surveys to collect feedback. Being present on these platforms also helps potential members preview membership, understand your association’s mission, and see the kind of work you’re doing.
2. Invite potential members to events
It also gives nonmembers a chance to try before they buy – ask questions and see what your association offers before committing to membership. Asking your members to engage nonmembers will give your association the opportunity to grow exponentially.
3. Make an offer they can't refuse
To attract those who had been considering membership but either were not ready to commit or were deterred by the fees, waive application fees for a limited time. Or offer additional perks with an expiration date.
Advertise and announce the offer in your newsletter and on social media so prospects become aware they’re getting a great deal. When you convey a sense of urgency (Ex. Act fast to take advantage of waived membership fees!), your potential members will see more value in joining during this time. You’ll additionally want to make sure your membership benefits are competitive, so as not to deter those who are comparing with other associations.
4. Track and measure your engagement efforts
If it can’t be measured, it can’t be managed. Record metrics of your engagement efforts to gauge your success and find ways to optimize over time. Some things to keep an eye on are email and text message metrics, such as open and clickthrough rates, as well as resulting membership numbers, i.e. renewals and new signups. If you host an event to invite potential members, keep their email addresses to send them offers and other emails to promote membership.
Most marketing and membership software offer standard tracking, but it can be a difficult and time-consuming task to tie your data together if you’re not using the right tools.
Our engagement solutions are fully integrated with a full suite of membership, communication, and event management tools on the memberplanet platform. You and your staff gain actionable insights with real-time reporting and a centralized database of membership for both your members and potential members. Maximize your engagement efforts and get a high-level view your association’s health – contact memberplanet to learn more about how we can help you manage, engage, and grow.
Updated since original publication on 2/20/18.
Here we are again. It’s the time of the year when we have to start setting goals for our organization. And after 2020, a year like no other, 2021 is sure to be interesting.
When it comes to goals, there’s one key question we need to ask ourselves: Can these goals be told in a story?
You’ve heard the adage: Facts tell but stories sell. It’s true in marketing and advertising. It’s equally true when it comes to setting goals for an organization. That’s because setting a goal is just the first step in the process.
After we’ve developed goals for our organization, we have to sell it to the troops, and we need to do it convincingly. If 2020 forced us to prioritize what was most important to us in life, then our goals for 2021 must be endeavors worth pursuing. And that comes down to good communication skills. It’s a fact. People make decisions based on emotions rather than logic. Whether we’re trying to accomplish a specific task or raise funds, we have to be able to communicate our goals clearly and emotionally to our members and constituents.
We have to bring people on board. Rally our members to our cause and lend their support. Y’know, herd cats. (If you've ever tried that, you know it's very hard to do.)
If we want others to join us on our quest, we have to be able to show our members why ours is a worthy cause. The more enthusiasm we can generate about our goal, the easier it will be to accomplish.
How do we inspire the type of passion that we want from members, the type of enthusiasm that’s going to carry us through good times and bad until we cross our goal line?
With a good story.
How true it was when "Game of Thrones"' Tyrion Lannister said, "There’s nothing more powerful in the world than a good story. Nothing can stop it. No enemy can defeat it."
Whether our objective is a one-time, standalone goal (think sponsoring a clothing drive for natural disaster victims) or part of a larger, long-term initiative or mission statement (think serving the needs of children with disabilities) a good narrative helps us communicate more persuasively with our members.
The more we can connect with people on an emotional level, rather than a purely rational one, the more excitement we’ll generate for our cause, the faster we’ll achieve it … and the invested everyone will feel.
According to Joseph Campbell, one of the world’s foremost authorities on the significance of myths and storytelling, “Everything starts with a story.”
“Everything starts with a story.” – Joseph Campbell
Great stories touch us on an emotional level and teach us universal truths about human conduct. Think about it: Every story we’ve ever been told has had a point to it, a theme. The theme is a lesson about life. Something to which humans should aspire. A goal.
Consider your goals from a storyteller’s perspective
As we set goals for our organization, let’s take time to consider these goals, one by one, from a storyteller’s perspective.
Every story has a hero. In our case, the hero is our organization. Every story has a conflict. There’s something wrong that needs to be fixed. Perhaps we’re trying to raise money to send aid to families with children adversely affected by COVID-19. The conflict is, some children don’t have means to basic necessities, and our organization wants to fix that. Every story also has a resolution. In our case, it’s our objective. Accomplishing our goal will resolve the issue at hand and bring the story to its close.
Can we incorporate these elements into our goal and use them to weave a compelling story that captivates our members? The truth is, people have a fundamental need to connect with something larger than themselves.
A good story about our organization and its goals will help bring more people into our tent and enfold them into its larger mission.
As organizational leaders, we must be able to find the narrative within our cause, capitalize on our natural storytelling strengths, and express our goal with clarity, creativity and conviction.
Embrace the conflict
Oh, yeah. There’s one more thing to remember, too. By definition, great stories involve a journey that is rarely easy. In fact, as is often the case, the more conflict, the better the story. So let’s approach our goals with the same mindset. It won’t be easy to achieve (and, if it is, perhaps we’ve set the bar too low).
In most narratives, the hero has a long-term goal that is fed by a series of short-term goals. Accomplishing our short-term goals are the means by which we eventually achieve our ultimate mission. We can think about our organizational goals the same way.
Our long-term goal is usually provided in our mission statement. It is our story’s theme. As you know, our long-term mission is achievable, measurable and time specific.
Our mission (not an impossible one) then must be broken down into shorter-term functions and operational initiatives. Short-term goals are great ways to identify specific functions that need to be undertaken, and offer measurable results that allow us to chart our progress, feel a regular and much-needed sense of accomplishment, and move us further along the narrative toward our ultimate goal.
And it’s that sense of accomplishment – of fighting for a cause, righting a wrong, creating a better tomorrow – that creates the pride and emotional connection that will keep our protagonists (members) coming back for more.
So when it comes time to set a goal for your organization, be bold, creative and inspiring. Identify the story inherent within your mission and use it to assemble your short- and long-term goals. In the end, the goals you set today will become the stories your members live tomorrow.
Let’s make them exciting ones!
Have a goal in mind? Our event and donation sites (templates included!) make it easy to tell your story.
Updated since original publication on 12/16/16.