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.

Changing from Membership to Non-Member Organization

Changing from Membership to Non-Member Organization

Dear Kim,

I am the director of a membership nonprofit and our board is thinking about changing us to a non-member organization to help us refocus our efforts to serve our clientele, clean up organizationally and become more streamlined and efficient. Would this be a mistake and how tough is it to do this? What is the real question we should be asking ourselves to help determine whether we should be a non-member or member nonprofit?
—Members Only

Dear Only,

Let’s start with your last question, which is an excellent one. You should be asking, “What role do we want people to play in our organization who are not board or staff?” Generally groups that want members want not only the financial support of membership dues, but also political support and a broader community to which to be accountable. In highly membership driven organizations, such as unions, members run for office, set organizational direction, and turn out in numbers for demonstrations when that is necessary. Usually members get something back for their contribution, which can be very tangible, such as access to a gym or decent working conditions, or more symbolic such as tote bags or pins, which stand for commercial free television or saving the environment. I don’t think that ceasing to be a membership organization will have all the effects you describe—a streamlined, efficient and cleaned up organization. Many membership organizations are very efficient and many non-member groups are not. You imply that your members are different from your clients. This structure may be causing some problems. Normally members are people who also who use a service—religious institutions, museums and theaters; and social service agencies—such as homeless shelters, free clinics, or hot lines–don’t have members.

It also may not be that easy to make this switch, depending on the role that members now play. For example, in many membership groups, the board would have to get approval from the whole membership to dissolve itself, and that dissolution would include the board, which was elected by the members. You will have to look at your by-laws and possibly consult a nonprofit attorney before taking this step.

I would look much more closely at what you think your problems are and what will really solve them. As the saying goes, “Don’t change the tire that isn’t flat.”

Originally published in the Grassroots FundRaising Journal. FundRaiser users can subscribe at a special rate of $30/year by entering is "$30" in the coupon code field on the second page of the subscription process.

Read more about how FundRaiser Software can help you with your fundraising:

FundrRaiser's core features

Favorite Feature: the Custom Page
3 Dead-On Grouping Tricks to Treat You Right

Related Posts

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

Connect With Us

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

Customer Portal Login Form

User Name:

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