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A Guide to Nurturing Member Relationships

Posted Jan 30, 2024 12:06 PM
A successful nonprofit membership program depends upon one thing: its members! As the lifeblood of your membership program, it’s vital to keep members satisfied, engaged, and invested. Ultimately, the most important metric when determining a membership program’s success is your relationships with your members.

Good member relationships work both ways. When members appreciate your program and its benefits, they’re more likely to support it down the line. By developing a strategy to keep members engaged, nonprofits secure vital, long-term backing for their missions. In this guide, we’ll highlight four proven strategies for nurturing member relationships, whether you're a museum, university, theatre arts organization, trade association, or advocacy group.

1. Prioritize frequent, thoughtful communication

As a nonprofit, your members have unique reasons for supporting your mission. They also have unique values, preferences, and interests. It’s important to recognize their individuality so that they feel valued—rather than just a nameless cog in a member machine. Here are a few quick tips for nonprofits looking to improve their member communication strategy:

Segment your members

Segmenting your members allows you to tailor communication based on their interests, preferences, and engagement levels. Addressing members by name and acknowledging their specific interests or past interactions can create a sense of individual recognition, fostering an even stronger bond.

Short on time? A great way to segment, organize, and manage your members is by using member management software that automates processes and does the heavy lifting for you.

Respect communication preferences

Some members may prefer emails, while others may prefer newsletters, social media updates, text messaging, or even direct mail. Allow members to opt in or out of specific types of communication, ensuring that they have control over the frequency and channels through which they receive updates.

Once preferences are established, store them in your nonprofit’s database and adhere to them consistently. Respecting members' choices fosters a sense of trust, further reinforcing the idea that their individual preferences are valued by the organization.

Send regular updates about your impact

Regularly updating members on the impact of their contributions creates transparency, enhances motivation, and builds trust. Communicate how their support is making a difference, whether through success stories, statistics, or other tangible outcomes. This helps members understand the tangible results of their involvement, reinforcing their sense of belonging and impact.

Include eye-catching images in your message

Utilize visually engaging images that convey your mission and impact. Visual content is more likely to capture attention and evoke emotions, enhancing the overall impact of your communication—as well as the likelihood of engagement. Use images to tell compelling stories about the people or communities your nonprofit serves.

Send out surveys for feedback (and act on it)

Surveys demonstrate that you value your members' opinions and input. Engage members in decision-making processes, and use their feedback to shape programs, events, or initiatives, making them feel more involved and valued. Whether it's addressing concerns, implementing suggestions, or sharing how their feedback has influenced decisions, demonstrating a commitment to continuous improvement enhances trust and satisfaction.

2. Host members-only events

Hosting members-only events throughout the year is a wonderful way for members to feel a sense of exclusivity and community with your nonprofit. Here are a few ideas to jumpstart planning for a members-only event:

  • Behind-the-scenes tours
  • Holiday-themed parties
  • Coffee meet-ups
  • Member appreciation parties

When planning your next members-only event, consider a mix of in-person, hybrid, and virtual events to appeal to different members’ preferences and encourage more people to attend. Consider using event software to facilitate planning, organizing, collecting registrations, and executing your event.

3. Make it easy for members to stay involved

Your members are committed to your nonprofit’s success. Many of them are eager to contribute beyond paying membership fees, but they may not know how. That’s why it’s so important to keep your website updated with all the latest opportunities to get involved. For instance, consider encouraging members to:

  • Follow your nonprofit on social media: Social media is a great way for members to keep up with your nonprofit. Follow them back and encourage them to turn on post notifications for even more engagement!
  • Subscribe to your email newsletter: Weekly, monthly, or quarterly newsletters give your members a reliable reference for upcoming events, news, and other goings on at your organization. Including new member spotlights and success stories related to your mission are both fantastic ways to ensure continued support!
  • Become a volunteer: Aside from donating, volunteering is one of the most direct ways to contribute toward your mission. Be sure to make information about how to volunteer easily accessible, clear, and straightforward to maximize participation.
  • Sign a petition: Whatever your petition may be, circulate it around all social channels, email, text, and whatever other forms of communication your members use the most to ensure they see it. Make the wording concise and clear so they know exactly what they’re signing, and always give people the option to have their name public or not.

By spreading the word about a variety of opportunities to support your nonprofit, you’ll appeal to more members and retain their involvement year after year.

4. Spotlight your members

Help your members understand just how important their contributions are to your impact by expressing your appreciation loudly and often. One way to do this is by spotlighting them in your social media posts, newsletter, and on your website. In your member spotlights, be sure to include key details such as:

  • The member’s preferred name
  • How they've contributed to your impact
  • Why they're drawn to your cause

Always ask for members’ permission before sharing their pictures and quotes with your audience. Some members may appreciate the recognition, while others may prefer a more private expression of gratitude. Public member recognition can both strengthen your existing member relationships and expand your member base by inspiring more people to join your membership program.