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8 Ways to Increase Membership in Nonprofit Organizations

There are many benefits to increasing your nonprofit’s membership numbers. Having a loyal base of supporters can be useful when it comes to planning events, fundraising, public speaking, and much more.

A strong membership program also gives your nonprofit a predictable source of income and can help you build awareness through word of mouth. There’s a lot in it for the members too. Nonprofit membership programs create engagement opportunities for members and donors. It can be a chance for those involved to meet like-minded individuals and contribute to a cause.

Here are eight strategies that can increase membership at your nonprofit organization:

  1. Offer member referral perks
    A referral program often attracts more engaged members that continually come back and offer their time. By offering an incentive for members to refer people they know, you can feel more confident that potential new members will be responsible, ethical, and a great addition to your growing organization. It’s also important to keep in mind that building a membership referral program starts with engaging your current members.

  2. Partner with local organizations
    Partnering with local organizations allows you to expand your reach to audiences you may not already be in contact with. Partner with a local or like-minded organization so you can promote one another and make both communities larger and more diverse. Partnerships can include promoting each other on social media, hosting an event together, or promoting events for each other in newsletters. Partnership opportunities like this bring awareness to both organizations and can create valuable connections. You also never know whether members of your partner organization are looking to join more nonprofits.

  3. Host open events
    An open event is an event organized by your nonprofit that’s open to anyone, not just existing members. People join membership organizations that they share a common interest with, and hosting open events allows non-members to see what your organization offers. By hosting a few open events your organization will give non-members an idea of what they could expect if they joined.

  4. Use social media
    Regularly posting on your organization’s social media pages allows for membership engagement and growth. Depending on the type of organization and your current membership, you might prefer one form of social media over another. Lots of organizations favor Facebook, where you can create a group page to link to and even create ads to target profiles for potential membership. By posting regularly on social media, you will learn what content your members enjoy and what they dislike. Once you understand what your audience likes, you can shift your content strategy to include more of what’s popular.

  5. Prioritize email marketing
    Eye-catching emails are always a popular marketing strategy. You want to start with an engaging subject line and offer resources that deliver value straight to your members’ inboxes. You also need to include an easy way for someone to subscribe to your email list on both your social media and website so current and potential members can stay up-to-date. 

  6. Publish up-to-date testimonials
    Not only are testimonials a highly effective marketing tool, but they can also increase membership if you include one on your website, social media, or brochure copy. By asking your current members to provide a quote about your organization, a potential member could be persuaded to join.

  7. Keep current members engaged
    The more you engage with your current members, the more likely they will be to promote your organization to others. Publish free content (like blog posts, social media posts, and posts in online forums) regularly, so current members will engage with you online. Make sure to enable and respond to comments to promote discussions and camaraderie. You also want to thank members regularly. One way to do this is with a video message, that you can post to your social platforms and include in emails. Showing members what their hard work accomplished is also important. You can also make a list of donations or events that were made possible by membership fees and publish it on your website so members know exactly where their dues go. Hosting member-only events can engage current members and make them feel more appreciated. If you can keep your members happy for a long time, you will attract more people and donations. 

  8. Make joining easy
    Have you ever tried to sign up for a service and the application process was difficult to understand? Ensuring your membership program has an easy application process and a prominent spot on your website’s navigation bar makes it seamless for new members to join.

Whatever your growth goals, make sure to use tactics that work well for your organization. Managing membership can be time-consuming and overwhelming, but as long as you pay attention to detail and stay persistent, you will see your hard work pay off. Use these tips to get members talking about your organization and you’ll see your membership numbers grow.

Need help identifying and engaging potential members or donors? Learn how our fundraising solution for nonprofits can take your efforts to the next level.