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As we discussed in our first blog article of the series, membership programs run by not-for-profit organisations can serve multiple purposes, such as growing a community of supporters, advocacy, or fundraising. They also provide undeniable benefits, such as stronger engagement and connections with stakeholders or recurring revenue streams.
However, any successful membership program requires a strategy and reliable tools that help execute the strategy, meet your goals and create results.
Here are a few steps to follow when starting:

  1. Determine the type of your membership program and its structure
  2. Decide what benefits your members will receive for joining the program
  3. Consider what fees to charge (if any)
  4. Devise a leadership and maintenance plan (whether you need one of your staff, a committee, or a team of volunteers to manage it efficiently)

Once you have gone through all the previous steps, it is time to think of what systems you need to have in place in order to keep everything running smoothly. This is why in today’s post we are looking into a few of the tools you might need to establish and manage your membership program without sacrificing too much time and effort.

Membership management software

The most important component of running a subscription program is to be able to build strong relationships with people, which is why it is wise to invest in a software solution for collecting and storing your members’ contact information. Using outdated means of managing data (such as spreadsheets or Word documents) is rather time consuming and can be prone to human error.
Having a secure cloud-based CRM tool allows you to centralise your data, access it from anywhere and manage it more efficiently. It also allows you to create custom reports to see your members involvement with your organisation, add case notes to individual or household profiles, and see the history of communication, making it easier to understand your members and how to best serve them. If you are currently in the process of choosing the right CRM for you, check out our post outlining a few things to consider before making a decision.

Tracking financial details

Depending on the type of your membership (paid or unpaid), you might need tools to help manage the collection of membership fees, produce statements and invoices, and generate reports. The easiest way to do it is to keep using your CRM since all your information is already there. An important thing to consider here is integration with leading payment gateways and accounting software that will help with both processing payments and keeping records of all transactions (which will be needed at the end of financial year).

Email service provider 

To save time, it is a great idea to utilise an email service provider (such as Flodesk, Mailchimp, or Mailerlite) that gives you an opportunity to send out bulk emails to your customers. You no longer need to email every person individually – the email service inserts the right salutation and sends it to your entire audience with just one click. Many services now provide you with beautiful and customisable templates for emails and campaigns. In addition, you can get some analytics and check how many people open and read your emails or what links they click on, which helps create better content for your communication emails. Consistently keeping in touch with your members is extremely important and email service providers can help you not only design, but also automate your communications, making the whole process more efficient.

Online engagement and marketing tools

We’re currently experiencing an ongoing digitisation of many industries, including the nonprofit sector. Many organisations shifted online, which was made easy by a variety of platforms available for community building, education or communication. It could be a great idea to go with the trends and provide a space for your members to connect and grow together, such as creating a members only area on your website, setting up a Facebook, LinkedIn, WhatsApp group or an Instagram account to follow. These can be used to share information in a more informal way, boost member engagement and even market your membership program or raise awareness for your cause. Choose the best social media channels (Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, TikTok) to represent your organisation across, craft a content plan and use scheduling tools (Planoly, Later or similar) to show up consistently and with purpose!

It might look like running a successful membership program requires juggling multiple tools, which is not only difficult in terms of setting up integrations, but might turn out to be rather pricey as not all of them are free of charge. If that is your worry, we have the perfect solution! Next week, we’ll talk about effectively managing your membership with only one system that is safe, reliable, intuitive and available anywhere from any device.
Stay tuned for our article next week dedicated to managing memberships with infoodle!