Membership benefits not only encourage new members but also help your group to retain existing members. Membership services are usually services exclusive to your members.
The type of membership benefits and services your community group offers will depend on the nature of your community group and the kind of services or activities that it offers to the general public or target clients. If you charge for membership, you also want to make sure that your membership services offer ‘value for money’ in relation to the fees you set.
Charging for membership services
Charging an annual fee for membership is a good way of generating regular income for your group. First check that your constitution gives your committee the powers to charge for membership. Think about who your members are. You may have different categories of membership, such as individuals, family, corporate or associate members. It may be worth having a sliding scale of membership fees to reflect the different income levels of the people/groups you are encouraging to join.
If your group does charge for membership you will need to be clear on what members get for their money. What are the benefits that being a member gives them?
Membership incentives and benefits
Your group’s success in not only recruiting new members but also retaining existing ones, will depend on the kind of incentives and benefits you offer. This is particularly true if you are charging for membership. People may be enthusiastic and supportive of your group’s aims, but they are also your customers. Your membership services needs to offer them ‘value for money’.
A welcome letter or membership pack
When a new member joins send them a letter or email. This should first thank them for joining and outline what they can expect from membership. Use this opportunity to remind them of the benefits of being a member and any discounts their membership entitles them to.
Follow up email or telephone call
A couple of weeks after the initial welcome letter or email it is a good idea to make contact again. Check that they received the welcome pack. Ask if they have any questions or queries regarding their membership?
You might want to carry out a membership survey at least once a year. This will give you an opportunity to ask for valuable feedback. It is also a good idea to conduct a survey of new members half way through their first year of membership.
Membership discounts are a good way of encouraging membership loyalty. It is also a good idea to get new members to engage and interact with you in their first year of membership. Consider offering a special discount the first time they use one of your services.
Membership renewals by direct debit or standing order
Payment by direct debit or standing order makes things easier for both your group and your members and this encourages renewals. You will need to consider the relative savings in your own administration costs (for sending out renewal notices and processing payments) against bank charges for setting up and processing payments by direct debit.
Membership newsletter or e-bulletin
Compiling and distributing a membership newsletter or e-bulletin is a good way of keeping your members informed and involved. Use this opportunity to encourage participation and a sense of ownership in the group’s activities and services. Include articles and comments submitted by members as well as reporting on progress and development plans.
Other Community Toolkit Topics to look at:
Membership....who are your membersMarketing and PromotionThis section looks at the different methods for marketing and promoting your group or projectPeople ManagementThis section looks at how to encourage and support people, as well as legal duties and best practice guidelines
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Last Updated 05/02/2013 14:39