How to increase your organization's membership

Published July 10, 2017

While grants and donations constitute a source of funding for many NPOs, the amounts collected are dependent on third parties, which makes funding unpredictable.

By contrast, memberships are the sole responsibility of the organization. Depending on the steps it takes to maintain its member base, the organization can rely on membership revenues for its annual budget. So how do you increase your membership numbers?

1. Retain your existing members

This might seem obvious, but it would be difficult to increase your number of members if others are leaving. Very often, NPOs lose members because renewal reminders must be sent manually. 

Organizations that manage their memberships in an Excel file run the risk of forgetting to send out reminders if it has thousands of members. While it may be possible for memberships that must be renewed each calendar year, it’s not as easy to manage for organizations that manage memberships for a specific timeframe.

Let alone reduced membership rates or complicated rate calculations (such as rates related to revenues or number of employees in the case of chambers of commerce). Having a tool, like memboGo, that allows you to automate renewal reminders will help you avoid oversights that are only human.

2. Send out a newsletter

With more than 1.5 million non-profit organizations in North America alone, many fields are rife with competition. NPOs must make themselves known, in addition to not being forgotten.

Creating a newsletter is an effective way to share what your organization is up to, as well as its future projects, events and the problems it's facing. The newsletter can be addressed to members, prospective members and partners.

Important: In Canada, the anti-spam law requires companies and NPOs to receive clear consent from individuals to send them messages. (If you use memboGo's Newsletter application, don’t worry – our application complies with the law!) Consider adding a membership form to your newsletter as well as the option to unsubscribe. By comparing your member file to your newsletter subscriber list, you might also be able to find prospective 

3. Organize events and training

Bringing people together is an excellent way to make your NPO known and to gain new members.

Rest assured: You don’t need lots of funds to organize events. For example, you can organize open houses, thematic breakfasts (on what your organization does or a related theme), trainings and information days.

Think about inviting local elected officials, prospective members, supporters, donors or volunteers, and ask them to spread the message and bring a guest.

4.  Become a partner at a publicized event

There may be highly attended publicized events related to the work that your organization does. Becoming a partner allows you to get exposure at a lower cost.

If you don’t have the means to make a financial investment, you can offer to help organize the event.

5. Establish your sponsorship system

You members might know potential members. To motivate members to recruit them for you, establish a sponsorship system by offering, for example, certain services or benefits as a way of compensating them (such as a subscription to your journal, trainings or a mention on your website).

6. Recruit a VIP sponsor

If one or more celebrities are members of your NPO, their renown will help you to easily recruit new members. Filling up your events will also be easier. Get in touch with their fan club if one exists.

7. Create a journal

If you're a born writer, you can create a journal that you can distribute in locations where your prospective members or partners can be found. It’s a great format for communicating what your organization does and its objectives in detail.

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Infolettre - Newsletter