If you are considering a membership program for your non profit organization then there a few things you should think about before making any decisions regarding non profit memberships.
What Role Will Non Staff Members Hold? It’s true that if someone is a member, they do feel more responsible towards the organization than if they were just an invisible donor. However, this means that as a member of a non profit organization, regular members may want to have a say decisions that are made. Also, consider their duties as a member. You will need to make it clear if you want members to do more than contribute money. If you require volunteering opportunities, political support or influence, this will need to be made clear in the beginning.
How Much Will the Membership Cost? This is something you want to think carefully about because members will already be donating so you don’t want to take that away from them through make membership fees to high. The cost of membership can really set the standard for what kind of person you want to be a member. Finding out what that class of person can afford can narrow your choices. There can also be different levels of membership which would include different degrees of involvement and input and the different levels can have different fees in order to accommodate everyone.
What Benefits Will You Offer Members? Having a non profit membership should entitle members to benefits that non members are not privy to. Find out what motivates people to want to hold non profit memberships and base the benefits around that in order to draw people in. The benefits should tie to the mission statement of your organization while being beneficial to both the member and your charity. Be careful about what you choose because taking benefits away is not a good idea. Adding benefits is simple but taking them away, not so much.
How Will Members Join? Non profit memberships are better kept simple. Maybe an online application or a paper one, depending on how advanced your organization is. If you choose to allow people to sign up online, there should be a way to make their membership fee payment online. If you still only use paper applications, accept all forms of payment in order to accommodate everyone and not deter people who only carry a certain kind of money, like cards and no cash or vice versa.
How Will Memberships Expire? Again, simple is better. One year from joining up is a good rule of thumb. Or you could have a once a year joining drive and make a huge push for people to join then so you know that the non profit memberships all expire at the same time. This will make it easier to send out requests for renewals but it may attract less members.
How Will You Handle No Payment? If someone wants to help a non profit they will make their payments but people forget or they run into hardship. One way to avoid this is to have a one time fee at the time of joining and then that’s it. This may avoid the non payment but it will cause people who are not rolling in money to not want to join. Many people prefer the idea of spreading the fees out over monthly payments so they have more time to gather the necessary money. However, this does go back to, who you want to be a member and basing the fee around what those people can afford.
If you keep these things in mind you should be able to begin your membership on the right foot. You don’t want to put people off by being too exclusive and unapproachable but you also don’t want to make it so simple for just anyone to join up and then have them end up not being as involved as you would like or worse, not donating or contributing what they had promised and what you had counted on. Think carefully before making any final decisions and get second opinions from those around you that you trust. That way you will know you are making a good, ethical decision about your non profit organizations that is not based off your emotion.
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