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.
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.
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.
It’s a point of pride to be recognized within your own community for three consecutive years! memberplanet earned second place in the Tech Tribune’s 2020 top five ranking of the best tech startups in Torrance, CA. We’re proud to be recognized for our dedication to our clients’ growth and rewarded for our focus on simplifying membership management.
We strive to continuously improve our platform by utilizing input from our clients and the challenges their administrative users face. That enables us to deliver solutions based on real-world situations. We’re incredibly proud of the fact that our platform is customizable to your workflow processes, which allows us to serve a wide range of organizations and associations across multiple industries – it’s what makes us different. We’re always excited about the local recognition and look at it as a confirmation that we’re doing something right.
Ready to take your organization to the next level? Schedule a demo with our team to learn more about our powerful platform.
Updated since original publication on 04/24/18.
We at memberplanet take security seriously. Protecting your data – both personal and payment information – is our top priority. We continually update our security measures to ensure that your information is kept safe against loss, misuse, unauthorized access, unauthorized disclosure, manipulation, or destruction. In addition to trusting us with your data, you should feel that you have complete control over the information you provide online, and so should the people in your group. The GDPR – a term you’ve probably heard before – is meant to empower European Union citizens, but we see this as being relevant to all our customers, regardless of where they reside. Here’s what you need to know, the choices your members have, and what to expect.
What is the GDPR?
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new set of data procedures designed to protect and empower all European Union (EU) citizens’ data privacy. UK residents are also included. The GDPR replaces the 1995 Data Protection Directive and is arguably the most significant change in data privacy regulation in 20 years. It’s meant to boost consumer confidence and data transparency in our digital economy and in turn business.
When did the GDPR go into effect?
On May 25, 2018. Organizations found in non-compliance risk significant fines.
Whom does the GDPR affect?
The GDPR applies to organizations that collect, share, and/or store the data of EU citizens. For example, if there’s a chance your U.S.-based organization collects personal data of EU citizens, you may need to adjust and demonstrate that your methods of collecting, sharing, and/or storing that data is compliant to the GDPR starting May 25, 2018.
These terms define whom the GDPR affects in relation to the data collected:
Personal data: any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (‘data subject’); an identifiable natural person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that natural person
Controllers: people or organizations that determine the purposes and essential means of the processing of personal data
Processors: people or organizations that process personal data on behalf of a controller
Processing: any operation or set of operations which is performed on personal data or on sets of personal data, whether or not by automated means, such as collection, recording, organization, structuring, storage, adaptation or alteration, retrieval, consultation, use, disclosure by transmission, dissemination or otherwise making available, alignment or combination, restriction, erasure or destruction
In relation to the GDPR’s definitions, memberplanet is considered a processor – we process personal data on behalf of controllers, which are our customers, groups, clients, and organizations that use memberplanet even on a free subscription plan.
What is the penalty for non-compliance?
The maximum penalty for organizations in breach of GDPR is up to 4% of annual global revenue or €20 million (whichever is greater). There is also a tiered approach. For example, a company can be fined 2% for not having their records in order, not notifying the supervising authority and data subject about a breach, or not conducting impact assessment. At the EU level, Data Protection Authorities (DPAs) are empowered to monitor compliance. Fines apply to controllers and processors, so this is something you don’t want to ignore.
How does the GDPR affect memberplanet customers?
The GDPR details the following key procedures and rights of EU citizens, and if you collect their data, you are obligated to comply with these:
Get clear consent to process data. Terms and conditions must be easily accessible with the purpose for data processing attached to that consent. Use clear and plain language. Also, permit withdrawal of consent. It must be as easy to withdraw consent as it is to give it.
Right to Be Forgotten (Data Erasure)
Erase personal data if the data subject asks. Data subjects are entitled to have the controller erase his or her personal data, cease further dissemination of the data, and potentially have third parties halt processing of data. Exemptions include if the data is needed to exercise freedom of expression, a legal obligation to keep that data, and reasons of public interest, such as public health research purposes.
Right to Access
Let people access their data and receive confirmation as to whether or not their personal data is being processed, where and for what purpose. You’re obligated to provide an electronic copy of their data to them - free of charge.
Data subjects have the right to receive their personal data in a common machine-readable format that allows them to give it to another company.
Inform people of data breaches if there is serious risk to them. You must do this within 72 hours of first having become aware of the breach.
For more details on exemptions and key changes to the previous directive, you can visit the European Commission’s website.
What choices do my members have regarding their personal data?
Members may request to view, update, or delete their information by submitting a request for info or deletion or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that some information may remain in our records, for example in our archives, after a request for deletion of such information. We may use any aggregated data derived from or incorporating members’ personal information after they update or delete it, but not in a manner that would identify them personally. Please also note that comments posted publicly on our website properties, such as comments on our blog posts, will remain visible to the public.
Important to note:
The information in this article is not meant to be a substitute for legal advice. Only a licensed attorney can provide legal advice appropriate for your organization’s particular situation.
Updated since original date of publication on 05/24/2018.
Alumni chapters and associations help maintain a vital connection between graduates, undergraduate members, and the university. It’s how those lifelong relationships are tended to and grown; they’re where opportunities can come from. However, if your daily tasks as an alumni chapter leader involve chasing down individuals for payments, searching through spreadsheets to check off who’s paid in a seemingly endless circle, it’s time for a dues program.
The world itself is nearly automated, and your alumni chapter should be the same. Committing to and selecting the right dues program should be easy – features are built in and turnkey, allowing alumni leaders to get started on Day 1. No longer having to do everything manually does more than save time and frustration, it allows you to focus on more vital goals of your alumni chapter, such as leadership and philanthropy. Check out these key benefits.
Integrated payments technology
A comprehensive dues program is much more than just money collection because it utilizes an integrated payments solution that ties together your online payment processing, your membership data, and administrative tasks – to get them working autonomously and in sync. This creates a more enhanced membership experience including a frictionless join and renewal process, which are critical to the year-over-year success of your alumni association.
A major benefit is flexible collection periods. Alumni chapter leaders can select how often they collect dues online based on what works best for their chapter. Your chapter may prefer an annual collection, or your alumni association might require you to collect dues monthly; either way, you have the option to choose the frequency that best suits your chapter.
Members benefit from the convenience of paying dues based on their join date. You no longer have rigid limitations of enrolling new members on a specific date, and a dues program can automatically send email reminders and bill everyone on schedule. Staying organized is a given. Administrative users can easily see which of their members have paid, check payment schedules, and identify those who are past due. Since membership data is synced and admin tasks can be automated, members who have missed the grace period for making a dues payment can be automatically made inactive or unable to receive member benefits.
A modern and frictionless membership experience
A dues program that really works will aid in the success of your alumni chapter. At every turn it provides options to help you grow, help you automate dues collection, and help you save time. Setting up multiple tiers of membership and varying prices is a standard feature. For example, leaders can offer a discounted rate for new graduates, as well as different prices for membership levels. Robust functionality makes it easier for you to manage membership, and in turn, allows you to offer flexibility and more options to attract new members.
We have all grown accustomed to the convenience of subscription services in our everyday lives. Almost everything we pay for (Amazon, Netflix, cell phone, etc.) has an auto-pay option. Your alumni chapter should be one of them! The success of your alumni chapter increases greatly when the membership renewal experience is frictionless. A dues program allows you to offer auto-pay solutions, such as recurring payments and online payment options. Administrators can also expect to customize automated payment reminders with messaging and branding.
As with any professional subscription service, a comprehensive dues program puts members in control of their own accounts with self-service tools. Members can set and forget payments with a credit card or choose to securely make payments directly from their bank account. They can also view their payment history, see scheduled payments, manage payment methods, or pay early.
One of the less discussed but equally vital benefits of a dues management program is a credit card account updater service. This automatically prevents payment interruptions and minimizes declines, because the service updates your members’ card information on file. This helps maintain continuity of payments by staying on top of credit card changes due to card expirations and other occurrences.
The technology of a dues program has positive effects on marketing – something alumni chapter leaders should take advantage of. Alumni chapters can place a link for members to sign in and complete payment on their website, social media, or anywhere else. More advanced programs simplify dues collection with multi-channel communication and feature-rich marketing tools. Alumni leaders can get the word out on multiple channels using email campaigns and group text messages; targeted distribution lists allow you to reach everyone on a particular membership level with one mass email that can be personalized for each member. The fact that the tools are integrated with membership allows admins to further segment and target members based on platform data.
Integrated marketing tools should help leaders appeal to prospects as well in effectively communicating the value of joining the alumni association. A dues program’s broader benefits include bolstering engagement opportunities and philanthropic support for the university.
Simplifying dues and membership is memberplanet’s specialty. While alumni chapter leaders have many dues programs to choose from, our integrated payments technology offers a more customized, automated, and seamless experience for every level of your fraternal organization. Our technology works behind the scenes, so all communications and even the member portal can be tailored to adopt your organization’s branding. Members see your message and brand front and center – not a third-party payment processor, which may come across as unprofessional. For more information on memberplanet’s dues program, please schedule a demo with the team.
About Matt Arnold
As our Vice President of Business Development, Matt is dedicated to serving member-based organizations and small to mid-sized associations. With over 10 years of experience wearing various leadership hats as an Alpha Tau Omega alumnus, Matt specializes in all fraternal organization matters. Whether a group is challenged with growing membership or struggling to engage members, he's got a solution.
memberplanet to Exhibit at the North American Interfraternity Conference Annual Meeting and Foundation for Fraternal Excellence's Seminar
memberplanet will be exhibiting its membership management software and fundraising solutions at the North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) Annual Meeting of Members and Foundation for Fraternal Excellence's (FFE) Seminar, Aug. 11-14, 2019, in Indianapolis, IN.
Why Fraternal Foundations and Organizations Choose memberplanet:
We solve challenges for the fraternal community and empower them to manage members, engage supporters, and grow membership. Our 30+ national partnerships help us provide dynamic solutions for fraternal foundations and organizations:
The Hub – provide a home for your members with easy-to-maintain, memberplanet-powered websites. The Hub maintains brand integrity across chapter templates, and members can log in to access self-service tools.
Funds Multiplier – reach more people and raise more funds for any type of campaign. Fundraising and event microsite templates are easy to customize and promote with feature-rich marketing tools.
Alumni Access – the platform provides both chapter and alumni leaders with the tools they need to grow membership. Promote networking, fundraising and events, and simplify dues collection to keep members active even after graduation.
Fraternal leaders at headquarters can conveniently manage chapters, maintain brand consistency, gain financial transparency, and empower chapter and alumni leaders for success, all from the same platform.
Visit the memberplanet booth or schedule a call with our team to learn how the platform can help your organization succeed.
memberplanet is exhibiting our association management software (AMS) at the 2019 ASAE Annual Meeting & Exposition August 10 - 13 in Columbus, Ohio!
Why associations choose memberplanet: Manage, engage, and grow your association with memberplanet’s powerful AMS. Track activity, view reporting, gain high-level organizational visibility – all in one spot – so your staff can spend less time on admin tasks and more time growing your association and driving value.
Save time and resources, increase productivity, and maintain brand integrity. Gain visibility over you entire organization with an integrated, cloud-based AMS!
Come to Booth #1550 to learn more!