Making Goal

Making Goal – the time to Act is NOW!

This is the time of year when December 31st is looming large! Revenue goals are a measure of our membership and fundraising success – at least internally. How close are you to your goal for the year?

If your numbers look good, then you can just coast through to the end of the year – no worries. BUT! If you are questioning how or if you are going to meet your program’s goals for the year, then it is time to pull a few tricks out of the playbook and get busy! Here are a few ideas and ways to boost numbers and revenues:

– Do a membership upgrade campaign. This effort, done by mail, but with possible support via email or phone, just asks for members to consider upgrading their membership. They have to go up one full level (paying the full amount now) and then get rewarded with an additional 12 months of membership with benefits at the higher level for the full amount of time. Reward behavior with a special offer – tickets, guest passes or a premium – or more of those goodies if the jump up more than one level. This can be done as a free standing effort or combined with a dues increase announcement if one is coming in 2013.

For one client last year, we performed this type of campaign and the $40,000+ that it raised got them within inches of their goal! But if they hadn’t done it……?

– Do a Lapsed Member Campaign. Round up all the 2012 non-renewers and ask them to get back on board! Many times an end-of-year reminder is very lucrative because it helps the members get their gift in under the tax wire in time for a deduction. For some members this feels like their end of year gift. Some members have simply just forgotten and welcome a friendly reminder. This is most productive if done by mail with a couple email reminders.

– Its gift giving season! Make sure you have a nicely packaged “Give a Membership as a Gift” campaign. With holiday graphics and special pricing on multiple membership purchases, put this offer out via email and on-site signage, especially at the gift shop. Have holiday fulfillment packages pre-packaged – maybe even in a wrapped box – for easy and attractive gift presentation. You may feel like the membership office has turned into a fulfillment house but if it pays off from a happy member/customer perspective, go with the flow!

– Finally, some membership managers are also in charge of the annual fund campaign. If so, add something new to your already tried and true approach – an email appeal with video, an additional mailing right before the end of the calendar year, reminders on your Facebook page, especially if you are a zoo and can remind people they are helping to provide for the food and caring for their favorite animal. Pick an animal, find out his food budget for the year, and do a little crowdsource fundraising by putting that goal out there and ask people to put their pennies in the pot!

Set your sites on your year-end goal and then celebrate the day that you cross the finish line!

Membership Acquisition – 25th Anniversary Perspectives

Membership Consultants celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2012! To commemorate that milestone we will take on 25 membership topics – looking back and looking forward – presenting a topic each week until the end of our anniversary year via our blog. We invite you to celebrate with us and weigh in on your membership experiences and opinions.  Here is Topic #2 – Membership Acquisition…

What are your best sources of new members? Direct mail, on-site sales, member-get-a member campaigns? Can you quantify what percent of new members come from what source? If not, get counting!

Having a quarter century perspective on membership can be an interesting place to be. And thinking back even before the start of Membership Consultants to my early days as a membership manager, direct mail was definitely our primary source of new members without question. In fact, the program I served at a botanical garden far outpaced all other organizations in our city with our membership totals simply because our garden and our director was an early adopter of the use of direct mail way back in the 1970’s! He saw it as a scientific experiment – which it still is today.  In those days, direct mail accounted for 60% to 70% of our new members. Today, direct mail probably accounts for 30% to 50% of most viable organizations’ new members. But direct mail IS still a very viable source of new memberships – it is still targeted, timely and YOU control it – you are not waiting for people to come to you! But it may DRIVE people to you in other ways – as in to visit you in person and join at that time. Or to “visit” your online and join in that way. Direct mail is definitely not dead!

On–site sales at a visitation-based organization or sales at the point of purchase for an association (such as when people sign up for your annual convention) has most likely taken over first place from direct mail. On-site sales can account for 40% to 60% of new member sales for some organizations. We have gotten much bolder at asking people to join. Being direct, or in-your-face, is the best way to get a new member. If you have a prospect before you, simply ASK them to join! This method of getting new members is usually the most cost effective – often with a cost per dollar raised of just $.25 to $.50, as compared to direct mail, which may cost $1.00 to $1.50 to raise a dollar.

Other methods of acquiring new members might include using your existing members to bring you new members – often called ‘refer a member’, ‘member-get-a-member’ or a gift membership program.  In fact, this is exactly how most membership programs started. Ladies who lunch would ask their friends to teas and encouraged them to join. Board members of an organization would ask their peers to support their causes – the person-to-person ask. Today these efforts are still alive online, such as when runners in a marathon get their friends to join an organization in support of their fundraising event. Gift memberships, for certain types of membership organizations, are also a viable source of new members. Friends like to share their favorite places with one another, and giving a gift membership is a great way to make sure you will experience your favorite place with your friends. These referral and gift sources can account for another 10% to 20% of your membership totals.

Email campaigns are probably best used to recapture lapsed members or get people with whom you already have a relationship to join or rejoin. After all, if you didn’t already have a relationship, you wouldn’t have the person’s email address, and an email appeal without a relationship is just SPAM, right? That is not to say that there aren’t email campaigns to strangers; the results are just infinitesimal.

There are many types of special projects and promotions that organizations try to get new members. Some work, some are trial and error, but most new members come from one of the tried and true tactics described above.

Know your sources! Figure out where your members are coming from. Then crank up the best producing acquisition activities and start growing!

Thanks for reading. Please feel free to join in, we would like to see your comments.