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Five Best Practices to Improve Nonprofit Member Retention

Members are a vital key to success when sustaining and growing your association and retaining those members ensures a long-term survival of your nonprofit organization. While recruiting and enrolling new members is important for growth, making a conscience effort to retain members is equally as important.  Making your current members feel important and special, reminds them of why they joined your association in the first place. Some tried and true retention methods include creating specialized resources, and educational content—the more you publish industry reports, educational webinars, or offer member discounts, the happier your members will be.

The best course of action to take when retaining members include, focusing on their needs, remind them how much value they bring to your association and engaging them on a regular basis. We’ve put together a list of 5 best practices for improving member retention at your nonprofit organization:

1) Create an Onboarding Plan: First-time members are a specific group within your membership profile that need to be approached with specific strategies. Look for ways to keep new members engaged—monthly check-ins, education materials about new products, keep them informed about upcoming events like webinars or virtual conferences—give them opportunities to learn more about the work your organization is doing in the nonprofit sector.

2) Offering Member Only Benefits: Members are interested and/or passionate about your cause, and they want to feel like they’re making a difference. Communicate with them often with weekly or monthly newsletters as well as through social media. Provide perks such as exclusive, member-only offers from your partners as well as networking opportunities. If possible, provide educational opportunities such as webinars, workshops, and relevant eBooks at member-only prices.

3) Create a Community for Your Members: Encourage a thriving, engaged community of like-minded individuals. Such as, organizing/hosting more networking events, mentorship programs, and creating an online member directory—all methods that can help to increase member retention.

4) Remind Members of the Value You Offer: In your end-of-year communications to members, remind them how their membership with your organization has benefited their association over the past year and how much value their membership brings to your organization.

5) Ask Members to Complete an Exit Survey: While it’s not ideal, it is the reality that there will be members who will choose to cancel their membership. This is a great opportunity to capture unique insight into why a member is leaving by asking them to fill out an exit survey. The data acquired can bring light to pitfalls or areas of your organization to be reviewed and improved upon.

Member retention isn't just a one-time activity. It is something that’s kept in mind throughout the whole member lifecycle—it’s a strategy that requires just as much attention as recruiting new members. To keep members around long-term, you should be focusing on building better relationships with your members from day one.

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