This case study from the files of FundRaiser demonstrates how effective a membership program can be to increase donor loyalty. Original published in 2008.
Indian River Land Trust, where Melanie Jones works as the Membership and Events Coordinator, is a completely membership-based organization. Instead of donor drives, they have membership drives. For Jones, "the most important aspect of my job is knowing my members and making them feel like they are the only member in our database." FundRaiser Select helps her to accomplish that. "With FundRaiser, we can be as specific as we want with each donor entry. We can record the information that lets us know the interests of each member."
IRLT promotes the preservation of natural habitats in Indian River County, Florida. "We identify important properties in the county that need to be protected. We have prioritized these areas by evaluating land with the most diverse wildlife and land that is most important to our water quality. Then we introduce people to the Land Trust and we let them know how our organization is essential for the work we do in this county."
FundRaiser helps IRLT reach the right people. "Some entries include the names of people living in select gated communities. We educate and solicit them for a membership. We ask for their support in protecting the important properties we've identified. Each record shows the community that person lives in. Later on, after we've introduced the Land Trust through a personalized mailing, we can pull out all the names of people that are new members and link them to the community they live in. This helps us report success response from each community and this process lets us know how effective our outreach has been."
For people who join "Membership mainly offers the benefit of the work that we do on behalf of the natural areas we work to protect. Even beyond membership benefits, we educate our members, making them aware the more property protected in the county, the higher their property value is. Some members see protecting land as an additional investment, essentially raising the value of their homes and businesses. We have educational newsletters and other membership updates that clarify all the benefits of protecting land in Indian River County," says Jones. "Through educating our members, we ask for their support and we depend on them to vote."
Membership renewals happen throughout the year, once every quarter. "Everyone who joins in a certain quarter, for instance May/June/July, are all given the same renewal date. That helps our organization save time and money compared to monthly renewals. Right now, our next quarter is May/June/July. We'll send out a renewal letter the first week of May. If someone doesn't renew that quarter, they'll get another letter next quarter. The Fundraiser Select program helps us save time and money by identifying members that are up for renewal and filtering out lapsed members."
Changes in membership levels are one of Jones' key indicators for the organization's health. When she creates reports, "the primary focus is trying to keep our board members aware of membership status is, not only financially, but in terms of levels. Reports include overall income; number of people at each level; board members that know key donors; and what community members live in. Also, if we were soliciting a new community, we want to know how many new members we gained. All this information is found through FundRaiser, and helps us save both time and money."
Jones emphasizes that the personal touch is key to success. FundRaiser software helps with that. "The information in each donor record allows us to personalize our correspondence. We had a volunteer come in last week to help with a mailing. She was impressed that we had personalized the mailing and were able to cater to a particular community. She's a major donor herself, and we told her about the software. Compared to how many thousands of dollars Blackbaud costs the price point on FundRaiser is incredible, and we love the software."
"FundRaiser technical support is also great. Even if it is just a general question, I can pick up the phone. They always get back with us and stay on the phone as long as we need. Another huge benefit is the online training sessions. They've really helped me use the software to its full potential, making our organization stand out from the rest."
To learn more about how FundRaiser can help your organization with its membership management
Explore the Membership Management Module in FundRaiser