FundRaiser Blog

The FundRaiser Software Blog is an excellent resource for nonprofit organizations looking to learn more about fundraising, donor management, membership management, and much more.

Increase Donor Loyalty with a Membership Program

AdventistQuilt

Membership programs may have many practical benefits, but the biggest benefit to an organization is their potential to increase donor loyalty. Someone who sees herself as a member of an organization will generally feel more ownership and involvement in an organization than someone who sees herself just as a donor, even if the member never has any more concrete involvement than simply giving money. 

In order to create a strong membership program, there are  four basic questions you need to be think through in order for things to run smoothly. Knowing the answers will get a new membership program off to a strong start; or help clear up problems in one that is already established. Either way-- whether you are new to membership management or needing to strengthen one you already have, knowing the answers to these questions creates a solid foundation:

  • What role do you want people to play in your organization who are not board or staff?
  • What should be the base membership fee?
  • What benefits should you offer to members?
  • How can you best manage joining and expiration of membership?

"From a fundraising point of view, a member generally feels more ownership and involvement in the organization than a donor does, even if the member never actually does anything with the membership. These kinds of organizations want people to feel involved beyond simply giving money."
 – Kim Klein, What Lies Down the Membership Road?

What role do you want people to play in your organization who are not board or staff?

Members generally feel more ownership and involvement than donors. Members may have an expectation to be asked to contribute other things in addition to money. Some of the things they may contribute are volunteer time, political support, expertise and influence.

If these things would benefit your organization, then consider starting a membership program. However, if you really just want money to do your work, then a membership program may add more administration for little added benefit. In that case, look for other ways of showing your gratitude for the money that donors contribute. Donors feel involved and hopefully feel appreciated, but they usually have no expectation of being asked to give anything besides money and feel little ownership of your organization.

What should be the base membership fee?

One good way to decide on the base membership fee is to ask yourself what kind of people you want as members. Then decide what those people can afford as a general minimum. Make that amount the base membership fee.

You may have the kind of organization that does not require a fee at all. For instance, people who live in a specified area of a city are sometimes considered members of a neighborhood association whether or not they have ever been to a meeting or paid any dues. Some organizations also give memberships to anyone who donates at a certain level.

You can also set levels of membership to allow for different degrees of ownership and involvement. Some typical levels are student, senior, corporate, regular. This allows for people to participate at an appropriate level to their current circumstances and gives you some information on who they are.

What benefits do you offer for membership?

Ask yourself what motivates people to want a membership in your organization and tie the benefits to that. The reasons that people will be motivated to become a member depends on your mission. They may simply want a stronger sense of affiliation with the work you do or gain satisfaction from knowing that they are making a bigger difference. In other cases, members may be looking for concrete benefits, for instance an after-school youth center.

Whatever the mission of an organization, members are usually offered something tangible in return for membership. It may be symbolic or practical. If your organization's mission is to save the rain forests, then a hat with the logo of your organization may be just what people want to advertise  their involvement. If your organization provides an after-school youth center, then membership would provide greater access to equipment.

Many memberships offer a newsletter that gives members information that they want and need.  For some, the newsletter is the only benefit offered, and that is quite sufficient.

"When considering which benefits to offer, less may be more at first. You can always add benefits to membership, but you are hard pressed to take them away. So, only promise people what you can actually deliver. Approach this question with a lot of thought on the front end. This will save you time (and grief) later on," cautions fundraising consultant Kim Klein.

In addition, check out tax considerations when deciding on benefits. Certain insubstantial benefits may be offered by organizations without impairing the tax-deduction that may be claimed by people who join.  However, there are very strict limits on what can be considered a tax-deductible benefit, and which benefits need to be dealt with in a different way.

"When we set fund-raising goals, we usually cast them in terms of dollars. However, the major fund-raising goal of any organization should be to build a base of loyal, supportive donors who give money year after year, campaign after campaign. The longer a donor gives to an organization the more likely those gifts are to grow in size and frequency."
 – Tony Poderis, Building Donor Loyalty

How do you manage joining and expiration of membership?

Some organizations keep memberships simple - beginning of year to end of year. In this case, there is often a membership drive at the end of the year where the organization expects to get most of their new members. People who join in between are still members only until the end of the year. Another simple way to handle it is that anyone who gives over a certain amount automatically gets a membership.  A more robust membership is one where you pay dues and your membership is valid for 12 months from that date.

Keeping track of a simple membership program that runs the calendar year can be quite easy, and can be managed with the ordinary features of your basic donor management software.  Membership can be determined just by looking at when someone last gave. However, for varying dates of expiration, levels of membership, and a range of benefits, special membership management features are important.

To learn more about how FundRaiser can help your organization with its membership management

Explore the Membership Management Module in FundRaiser

 

Short Take: Get Reminded
5 ways your donor management software can help cre...

Related Posts

Wait a minute, while we are rendering the calendar
Resiliency in honor of donations membership benefits targeted mailings support community supported gardens happiness ticket sales GivingTuesday upgrade solicitors GoFundMe project FundRaiser Spark Reminders tech tip volunteering budget office donor slip relationship tracking arts segmenting donors capital campaign the Ask major donors word processor mode code membersip benefits add ons how-to videos volunteers Task List Excel Congratulations donor loyalty product news accounting software spreadsheets endowment campaign custom page correspondence fundraising appeal letters Company culture major gift prospects mission driven security online donations merge fields increasing giving amounts donor contact information flash sales spare fields charity golf tournaments updates customer portal board members grants premiums follow up role of nonprofits Facebook campaign animal rescue NCOA processing alumni LYBUNTS thank you letters donor recognition development director End of Year Letters corporate sponsors online donations ROI overview data analysis fundraising letters National Change of Address recurring gifts importing csv tribute gifts nonprofit fundraising case study Alternative Addresses understanding giving trends Donor Portal operational costs announcements tax summary letters publicity materials user spotlights grassroots campaign communications annual campaign donor Tickles on site training small donations community broadcasting advanced tab campaign management PayPal pledges Crowdfunding Campaign reports look and feel motivation donor attrition rate foundations In-Kind gifts moves management banquet password protection customer service membership programs community arts nonprofits training Codes building donor relationships monthly giving operating systems social media event management phoning donors general data entry Facebook ticketsales #GivingTuesday raffle upgrading donors new leadership change of address updating motivation code government grants Thank You donation history giving levels training tip Groupings lapsed donor memorial giving backing up data annual maintenance plan Volunteer module features welcome packet disaster relief donor attrition gift entry donor source Snow Birds data conversion Reporting to IRS donor retention rate

Connect With Us

  800-880-3454 ext 3
  Email Us
  Request More Information
  Monday-Friday
      8:30AM-5:30PM CST

Customer Portal Login Form

User Name:
Password:

If you are not sure about your Customer User Name, please call 800-543-4131 and we will be able to help you.

Or you have lost your password, Request Password