As a nonprofit association, engaging and growing your membership base is essential to achieving your goals and serving your community. There is strength in numbers, making your members central to carrying out your mission. Good communication can help facilitate advocacy efforts, encourage involvement in training and networking opportunities offered by your organization, and inspire members to get involved by volunteering for leadership roles. With these things in mind, it’s crucial to leverage existing stakeholders within your organization, such as volunteer champions, ambassadors, and board members.
Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail
First and foremost, solid planning and preparation can make a huge difference. This does not need to be overly complicated and can sometimes even be as simple as creating a short document to guide your efforts. The first step in developing a plan to engage current stakeholders is to identify your goals and objectives. What do you want to achieve? Do you want to increase membership by adding 200 new members within three months? Do you want to improve engagement by increasing attendance at specific training and networking events? Do you want to grow your online communities or increase web traffic? Clearly defining your objectives will help you tailor your plan to meet your needs. Be specific!
Once you’ve defined your objectives, the next step is to identify whose participation is needed. Do you want to get board members involved? Chapter presidents or ambassadors? Current members who have not yet held any leadership positions? At this point, you’ll also want to define your core messages. What is it that you want to get across from a broader perspective? Be clear, concise, and consistent in your messaging, and ensure that it aligns with your overall mission and goals.
Implementation of your plan may involve creating and sending communications, organizing events, and more. The key is to create a realistic timeline, be consistent in your efforts, and track your progress against your goals and objectives. Making sure the right people are on board will also play a significant role in your success. If you’re implementing a brand new membership engagement initiative, it might also be a good idea to start small and grow from there. It’s ok to start with just one, two or three new items.
Empower Your Members By Encouraging Active Participation
Here are just a few actionable ideas for how a nonprofit association can work to increase and engage membership through leveraging existing stakeholders:
Create an Ambassador or Champion Program: If you don’t already have an ambassador or champion program in place, consider setting one up. The biggest cheerleaders among your current membership can be a powerful tool for reaching out to new audiences and promoting your organization. Encourage your ambassadors to share your mission and message with others in their professional networks by providing them with resources and training. This can help them become effective advocates for your organization, reaching new members and increasing engagement.
Engage Your Board Members: Your board members are key stakeholders in your organization, and they can play a critical role in engaging membership and bringing in new people. Encourage them to reach out to their own networks and promote your organization by providing them with communication tools and editable templates. Board members are usually very busy professionals, so make it easy for them to connect with those you are trying to reach.
Use Social Media: Make sure your organization has a strong social media presence, using platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to connect with potential and existing members. Create an editorial calendar to share updates, events, and information about your organization, and encourage members to share your content with their own networks. You can create a social media toolkit that includes ready-made graphics and editable captions that can be personalized.
Offer Members-Only Events and Benefits: Hosting members-only events is a great way to engage current members and attract new ones alike. Exclusive benefits can entice those who are not yet involved with your organization. Events can include anything from networking opportunities to educational workshops and provide a unique opportunity for members to connect with each other. Other benefit ideas include merchandise or services, as well as members-only access to resources and information, such as research reports or educational materials.
Conduct Member Surveys: Regularly conducting member surveys can help you understand what your members want and need from your organization. Insight gleaned from the feedback you receive can be used to attract even more members. Use this information to improve your programs and offerings, providing the best possible experience to all who engage with your organization.
Continually Refine Your Path to Success
Once you’ve decided on which new initiatives to implement – as well as how and when – it’s essential to regularly evaluate and refine your growth plan and associated communication efforts. What is working well? What can be improved? How can expectations and timelines be updated? Use this information to make any necessary changes and ensure that your plan continues to meet your evolving needs.
A well-developed outreach plan can help your nonprofit association grow membership by engaging existing stakeholders. By taking the time to define your objectives, identify the right participants, choose your channels, develop your messages, and regularly evaluate your efforts, you can grow your organization all while building stronger relationships with your members, volunteers, and board members. In the long run, this should help you achieve your mission more effectively.
Smith & Harroff Can Help You Grow
If you would like to learn more about how we can help you develop a plan to increase membership, please set up a time for an exploratory call.