Last month, Marketing General Incorporated released its 2011 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, a survey of associations with regards to membership management. The study surveyed over six hundred associations, both large and small, to understand how to engage members with services, and the key issues that can slow membership growth. The study provides data on some questions that are very important to anyone that oversees an organization.
What are the critical components to building strong membership? How do prospective members hear about organizations? Why do people join organizations? The data gives some insight on these questions, and here is what it says you should keep in mind while managing your organization.
Advocacy is one of the Top 3 Reasons
Organizations were asked, “What do you believe is the one reason members join your organization?” The top three responses were: networking, specialized or current information, and advocacy. When recruiting new members make sure to highlight these aspects of your organization. Encourage networking by scheduling events or by creating an online community. Keep your members up to date with specialized and current reports about your group. If you represent your organization regarding state and federal legislation, get your members involved in your advocacy by allowing them to have a voice in your organization’s community.
Engaging Members is Crucial
The study explored renewal rates of membership organizations. From the responses the researchers were able to determine the critical components that keep renewal rates up. Organizations that maintained a high renewal rate over the course of 2011 typically had a higher proportion of members that actively participated. The study specifically stated that “engaging members is a critical component of building strong membership.” Organizations with members that participate in activities like attending conventions, meetings, and organizations that have members involved in legislative issues are more likely to have higher renewal rates.
Communication is Key
Marketing General’s survey asked how organizations connect to prospective members. Word of mouth, communicating through a website, and prospective emails were the top three methods. Email communication in particular was on the rise over the past year. This means that organizations are reporting that emails are becoming more effective at gathering new members. Email communication is vital to growing your membership, so make sure they are informational and professional. Check out our blog post on Effective Email Communication for some thoughts on this topic.
Improve Your Organization’s Organization
Group leader respondents stated that the two biggest challenges to growing their membership were lack of staff and weak service offerings. For small organizations hiring people may not be an option. That is why it is important to utilize tools to make your organizers more efficient. An organized membership management system can help take the burden off of a small staff, allowing them to focus their attention elsewhere. Event planning systems can help organize large events by handling the burden of registration and fee collecting. Legislative Tracking and Grassroots Software can make the process of engaging members in state based associations easier and more effective. Utilize these tools to get the most out of a small staff to avoid the growth problem many organizations have due to a lack of staff.