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So You Want to Double Membership?

Posted by Lindsey Knight, CAE on Sep 23, 2015 12:00:00 PM

member_growthSetting annual association membership recruitment goals can often feel like a shot in the dark. Sometimes this is left to staff to create, but often volunteers from your Board, membership committee or finance committee are involved. Here are a few association membership recruitment strategies to help set goals that are both realistic and aspirational:

  • Know your universe. Have a conversation with volunteers about the opportunities for your organization. What percentage of potential members do you already have? What prospective groups are already in the pipeline? What are your restrictions (policies, requirements and geography)? Who/what are you competing against?
  • What resources are allocated to membership development? If you have a lofty goal, do you have the staff time and marketing budget to get it done? If you want to double membership, but don’t have dedicated staff time or have a $50 marketing budget this may jeopardize your success. Have a discussion about resource limitations and come up with a plan to overcome these barriers.
  • Know your history (and remind volunteers). If you have recruited 50 new members each year for the last six years and your goal is to recruit 100 members this year, you are going to have to do something significantly different.
  • Benchmark. Share information with your volunteers and staff about what other organizations are doing and what you have done in the past. ASAE has membership matrices available that can help set realistic goals. One good metric to track is the percent of revenue and expenses directly attributed to member services.
  • Remind volunteers they care more than the average member. Volunteers believe in the organization and can sometimes not understand why everyone is not already a member. Remind them of the actual engagement level of the average member and the actual knowledge level of the prospective members so they understand the effort you must put forth for recruitment and retention.

Setting your annual membership goals is sometimes overwhelming, but making a data-driven decision based on the above strategies is essential to success. Do you use any other strategies when setting membership recruitment goals?

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