ARTICLE: 7 Tips to Retain Members

July 10, 2018 Tanya Fitzgerald

Members are the catalyst of your arts or cultural organization. They believe in your staff, your mission and support your goals. And while attracting new members is a never-ending process, retaining existing members is equally as important. It’s easier to keep a member than to acquire a new one, so focus on communication and experiences for a successful membership retention rate. Sustaining your members relies on your stewardship commitment and creating the exclusive opportunities they deserve. Preserving membership relations is imperative to your organization’s current success and future goals.

Here are seven tips that will help drive your membership success:

  1. Involvement – Involve your members in your mission, first-hand. Allow them to experience your goals so they better understand your organization. This will only deepen your relationship with them, in turn, turning them into recurring members.

Pro Tip: Choose some organizational events that would interest your most active members and personally invite them. Create a family-affair atmosphere and showcase their membership perks.

  1. Communicate – Constant communication with your members is imperative. Staying in the forefront of their minds will validate their commitment. Share your goals, experiences and triumphs throughout the year. Be active on social media, create newsletters, send emails and make phone calls. Ensure that all your communication efforts include pertinent information and you are not wasting the members’ time.

 Pro Tip: Develop a member-only communication stream allowing them insight to happenings prior to public announcements.

  1. Listen – Listen to your members. Active members who feel ignored won’t become reoccurring members. Ask their opinions, listen to their suggestions and always follow-up. If a member approaches you directly about an idea, listen to their suggestion. If it can be accommodated, let them know when it’s put into effect; however, if it’s one that cannot, make sure to follow-up and explain why. Understand what the member wants out of their commitment to your organization. For your more active members, learn what their expectations are and communicate stories and ideas, when applicable. The level of the members’ engagement will reflect in your ability to listen and connect.

Pro Tip: Create a comment box. Members don’t always know how to communicate their suggestions, requests or comments. Develop an easy way for them to drop you a message.

  1. Exclusivity – Allow members to have exclusivity to event prices, appreciation night(s), new exhibits and experiences. Single them out and make them feel special. Members should be treated differently than general admission guests.

 Pro Tip: Create a separate entrance/line to your facility that creates a special experience, validating their commitment.

  1. Personalization – Each one of your members are different and enjoy the diversity of your organization. One might support conservation while another is intrigued by your toddler program. Allow them to experience your mission in their own ways, while keeping them all engaged. Ongoing stewardship is imperative to keeping any member truly connected.

Pro Tip: Maintain a database with theirs and their family’s birthdays, strengthening your relationship.

  1. Renewals & Timing – Educate members on the different levels offered so they choose the one that best fits their needs. Ensuring they acquire the appropriate membership will help satisfy their expectations. Also, create a seamless way for your current members to renew. Notify them in advance of their expiration date to renew, without lapsing. But while timing is important, you don’t want to notify them too far in advance. Educating them on their expiration date(s) is a great way to showcase your communication methods/style. The initial notification should be a personalized letter, including their name, address, expiration date and membership level. The second is a great reminder tool and doesn’t need to be personalized. If the member hasn’t responded to either communication, a follow-up phone call, once lapsed, is a great way to connect and learn what’s going on.
Timing Communication Details
60 Days in Advance Direct-mail letter Personalized with name/dates
30 Days in Advance Automated Email Email blast to all members expiring that month
Lapsed Members Phone Call Call from Membership Coordinator
  1. Database – Obtaining, creating and establishing an efficient database will help organize and strengthen your efforts. Adopting an all-in-one solution will allow you to document important dates, easily renew memberships and identify members when they check-in. Integrating a robust CRM solution will allow your staff to focus on sustaining and growing your membership program. Communication and stewardship will help you retain members, while attracting new ones. Take pride in your members and integrate your organization into their lives. Enjoy learning about their likes and dislike, while growing your relationship. Have fun with your members and watch their loyalty increase!

Want more advice on membership management? Check out additional resources on arts.blackbaud.com/membership.

 

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