Growing Membership by Building and Expanding Value
Nonprofits that are dependent on membership revenue often invest their limited human and financial resources in short term, unsustainable strategies, focusing on expanding their membership through solicitation and persuasion rather than building and expanding a solid value proposition for their members. While short term positive impacts may result from these kind of strategies, they also tend to lead to higher lapsing rates, as members are less connected to the organization and the benefits of their membership than they are to the person that solicited them.
If growth and sustainability of unrestricted operating revenue are the goal, I would urge nonprofits to consider adopting a more value oriented strategy, which clearly identifies the tangible and intangible benefits of membership and focuses on building those benefits on an ongoing basis. This kind of philosophy sends a strong message to members that the organization doesn’t take their support for granted, and that it is committed to earning their ongoing support.
So, if membership revenue is an important part of your operating income, don’t wait until it starts to decline before having a candid discussion about your value proposition and strategies that might enhance it. And keep that conversation alive with your staff, board and Membership Committee, as organizations that don’t take their member’s support for granted build loyalty, commitment, and sustainable operating revenue to fund expanding mission impact.