Read part 1 of this series, Membership Campaigns: The "How-To"
In part 2 on building a membership program, you'll learn how to prepare to ask your members to move up the giving ladder.
Compile an A to Z listing of all current donors and lapsed donors—no more than three years (excluding those whose reason for lapsing is known).
Tally by levels their most recent donations to determine the population of each level. For example, you might find the majority fall within the $100 to $249 range and the rest are positioned in levels above and below. This gives you an early-stage picture of the spread of donors in each range of the gift chart.
In the event you have no previous donors, compile an A to Z listing of your new prospects. As best you can, develop a general range of gifts using the above process and estimates of donations in each level.
As in all fund-raising, every request for membership support should include a suggested gift amount.
Using your A-Z listing, create a two-column chart, recording the previous contribution of each donor in one column and leaving the second column blank for recording the amount you will request for this campaign.
|Name||Previous Gift $||Suggested Ask $|
|Anderson, M/M John||500|
|Bailey, M/M Albert||2,500|
Engage a few people "in the know" to rate each donor and determine if you should seek the same amount for the new campaign or suggest an increased gift. When lack of information makes rating impossible, you can arbitrarily raise the suggested asking to one level above the previous gift. When rating lapsed donors, I recommended the suggested ask amount be the same amount as the previous gift.
Rate in the same manner all new prospects on your A to Z listing. Stay within reasonable bounds and honest evaluation of their familiarity with your organization and the level of interest they have in your mission. (I am not talking about a Direct Mail effort to mostly unknown and uncaring individuals, especially those out of your area of service.)
The potential members you've identified are reasonably close to the organization. You've rated with care their capacity to give. There's a solid volunteer-solicitation team being assembled. One critical question remains: "What portion of our Annual Fund Goal should we expect the membership campaign to generate?"
No matter how much confidence you have in the validity of your asking ratings, their sum total seldom, if ever, reflects what you'll actually receive. Some people will give nothing. Some will give the same amount as their last gift. Some will give less. How, then, can you set a practical and reachable goal?
Assured that solicitations will be made in the best way and, for the most part, your new prospects are not so distant as to be classified as "cold calls," establish your goal as a projected percentage of the total ratings. If basics described above are in order, you may be comfortable projecting say, 40% of the ratings total. (You may find, however, that a lower percentage is more realistic.)
Confidence in your plan, faith in the relationships you enjoy with potential members, and past experiences may prompt you to project a higher response rate. You, and only you, can estimate the impact these elements will have on how donors and prospects are likely to respond.
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