What’s A Good Way to Recruit and Retain Members? Ask Them!

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There’s an abundance of information and advice about how to recruit and retain members for nonprofits and membership-based associations. But, these sources frequently ignore one exceptional source of information: your actual membersgood way recruit retain members ask them

Because every organization’s mission and methods are different, every organization’s members have different motivations, passions, and interests. No one knows better why your members joined—or what would motivate them to increase their participation—than they do. And nothing makes members feel more valued than asking them to share their honest opinion about your organization and following up on their feedback.

Surveys can also help gauge interest in new initiatives, identify members who are willing to take on new or expanded volunteer roles within the organization, and provide a polling mechanism about relevant issues.

Surveys are also useful when members leave an organization. Asking members who fail to renew about their decision can yield painful—but extremely valuable—information about ways that your organization can better meet member needs in the future.

In sum, you’re leaving a wealth of potential resources untapped if your membership management solution doesn’t include support for surveys. You should be able to create a visually appealing survey that asks meaningful questions and distribute it to any or all segments of your membership rosters. Some features to look for include:

  • Integration with membership management software: There are plenty of survey-only software vendors, but you’ll get the most bang for your buck if your survey tools are directly integrated with your membership management and communications software. Integration makes it easier to target messages to the right groups, review response rates, and offer incentives and promotions.
  • Easy survey creation: Depending on your mission, sometimes you might need to get information from your constituents quickly. Even if you don’t distribute time-sensitive surveys, no one wants to spend hours figuring out how to configure and test the software. Your survey solution should make it easy to set up and send surveys so you can focus on asking meaningful questions and responding to the results.
  • Conditional logic: Your survey software should allow you to present different items based on previous answers. For example, if a member indicates that they’re unhappy with pricing or benefits, you should be able to display specific follow-up questions to learn why they were disappointed and how they feel that membership options could be improved.
  • Incentives: Even your most passionate members might find that their inbox is too cluttered to respond to every request. One way to increase survey participation is to offer incentives for completing the survey, like a discount on a purchase or upcoming event. This is another area where integration with your existing membership and registration solution can really pay off.

Remember, asking for your members’ input is only the first step. If you solicit feedback from your members and then ignore it, they may assume that the survey was just a shallow ploy for participation and that their opinions aren’t taken seriously, in which case your survey may do more harm than good. But, if you’re committed to follow-through, surveys are an excellent way to solicit feedback, increase engagement, and identify opportunities for action.

What do you think? What else should people look for when crafting surveys to their membership?

Looking for Membership Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Membership Management software solutions.

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About the Author


David Mimeles

David Mimeles is Vice President of Doubleknot, Inc., a leading provider of software solutions for membership management, event and reservations management, and online ticketing to help nonprofits and member-based organizations improve awareness, increase participation, and drive revenue growth.


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