How to Encourage Member Engagement With Your Non-Profit Organization
Your membership-based non-profit group relies on close ties between organization and individuals to support what you do and enhance the reach of your intentions. Online digital tools can help you make this process easier to achieve—and greatly extend your message to new members.
Make your mission clear
Non-profit groups can face significant competition from other organizations that at least appear to address the same, or at least equivalent, causes and connections. That’s why it’s essential to make the mission and vision of your group clear to anyone who might be interested in joining. After all, prospective members don’t sign up without a reason to do so. Either they share your outlook and want to participate in your activities, or otherwise find your group appealing. Whichever is the case, you must make your identity obvious and accessible.
One of the best places to present and promote your organization’s identity is the website you set up for your group. Yes, it’s common for non-profit groups to create a standalone page on which they describe and discuss their purpose for existing and the changes they want to see in the world. The more approachable and down to earth you make the language on this page, the more people will read and believe in it. If your entire mission sounds about as practical as the average corporate mission statement, people are likely to roll their eyes and leave your website instead of nodding their heads in enthusiastic agreement.
As you formulate your mission and vision statements, or review the ones you already have, think about them from the perspective of the prospective member and put yourself in their shoes. Would these statements draw you in? Would they attract the people you want to join you? It’s always worth re-examining these types of foundational pronouncements to ensure that they really do represent the focus and character of your group both accurately and enticingly.
Simplify member signup and retention
Once you’ve attracted prospective member attention, you want your member signup process to be as simple, streamlined, straightforward, and easy as possible. If the process looks as if it takes more steps than applying for college or trying to get a driver’s license, prospects are apt to grumble and wander off.
Think about the information you need to acquire as you sign up a new member. How many of the questions you typically ask are essential? What can you defer to a member survey instead of incorporating into a member recruitment form? You’ll have better results if prospects don’t feel as if they’re undergoing an interrogation instead of signing up for membership.
Regardless of whether you charge a membership fee or enroll new members with no fees at all, you’ll want built-in ways to communicate with everyone who signs up. Look for membership-based website software that includes built-in support for customizable e-mail messaging, including attachments, as well as texting—if your members agree to opt in to receive it. You’ll also want an easy way to reset any member passwords via a system message you can send out on demand.
Secure your transactions
From membership itself to in-person or virtual events, many non-profit organizations collect fees. Ideally, that’s not something that involves checks in the mail. People of all ages have become accustomed to the ease and convenience of online payments, and your group will benefit from the ability to accept those payments directly through your website.
Sure, you could sign up individually with any one of a number of payment processing companies, but then you face the difficulties and complexities of integrating their services into your website. As you’ll quickly discover if you research these operations, or as you already know if you’ve tried this before, this process most definitely is not for the faint hearted. Payment processors can require you to add very specific code to your website, and the how and why of this process can be less than obvious—unless you’re a website programmer.
On top of that, you become responsible for vetting these providers on the basis of their security features so you can present these options to your board and make a compelling case for the one you think is best.
Why not skip all these hassles and choose a membership-based website software provider that integrates first-choice payment processing directly into your site? Look for one that even includes the ability to pass on any payment processing fees as part of the cost of an invoice, so members pick up the tab for payment processing instead of your organization itself.
Share important data
Non-profit organizations often share position papers, case studies, and other materials with their members and with the general public. The problem with just posting them all publicly on your website is that not every one of these documents should be available to anyone who wants it. Some of them should be limited to a members-only audience, whereas others may be suitable for broader visibility.
In the best possible scenario, your membership-based website software provider gives you the ability to create a centralized document repository directly on your website, and customize the access permissions on a folder-specific basis so you can broaden or limit file access as appropriate. Couple that with the ability to designate individual website pages as visible only to specific audiences, and you have the ability to tailor access to your digital assets as you see fit.
Choose the right membership-based software option for your organization
If you’re like most non-profit organization administrators, you begin your quest for the ideal website software package with the best intentions, planning to research a broad range of options and investigate each of them closely. Unfortunately, after a while, the amount of effort involved in that process can deter even the most diligent administrator.
Rather than spend more time than you care to invest in this process, why not start with a membership-based software provider that focuses directly on organizations like yours? At Membershine, we’ve developed our software package on the basis of extensive experience with groups that depend on their ability to attract and retain a vibrant, supportive membership. We’re constantly adding to and updating our feature set to offer the best options—and we’ll be happy to show you what we offer through a hands-on demo or free trial.