What is membership?
Membership in a nonprofit can be inclusive or exclusive, it can be tiered and have different levels of engagement and benefits, it can include certain privileges- see American Express- or it can be a nebulous aggregation of people who have some similar concern or issue. What membership means to your nonprofit depends on how membership is described.
Do You Need or Want Members?
Before getting wrapped around the axle with membership numbers and what they might mean to you, ask yourself if the concept of membership is important or will have meaning for your work. Membership requires maintenance and often is accompanied by expectations, the give and take between a collection of individuals and the organization.
What can a ‘membership’ offer you in terms of showing involvement and activity and what can membership offer the members?
What will increasing or developing a membership mean to you in terms of activity, fundraising and community outreach? Will a membership increase your public profile or will it distract from your goals?
Know Your Members
Understanding what it is about your cause and your programs that attracts these people is key to knowing who your membership really is. This knowledge is powerful and revealing- it can help you shape your activities and provide some insight on how to grow this number.
Let Lauren Associates help you see your membership for the possibilities for them and with them.
If you decide you want them, how do you get them? You may have inherited a membership, is it working for both sides? This is where your two-way communication can be very illuminating: are the members you have happy, are they engaged, is it a matter of pride to belong?
There are three main ’benefits’ to membership:
- Identity: I belong to Kitten Rescue rather than I support cat rescue.
- Community: I belong to THIS community, I consider myself a member of this special group. This is more inward looking form the member to towards others in this group.
- Unity: This is more outward looking perspective, “ I belong to this group and this is what we are doing.” This tends to bring people together for advocacy, attention and towards a (sometimes) common goal. A possible pitfall is the differing understandings of just what membership with you will and mean how it can help the member and the firm.
Once you decide how and where membership resides in the constellation of your organization and your goals, then developing a plan to recruit more is much clearer.