A nonprofit organization can flourish by adding a steady source of funding through nonprofit membership programs. With this model, individuals pay a recurring fee to access the features and value an organization creates.
Nonprofit membership programs offer many advantages and are well worth the effort to develop and implement. Let’s discuss some of the benefits of membership programs for organizations, ideas for membership benefits, and how to launch a nonprofit membership program successfully.
Benefits of a Membership Program
There are some great benefits, beyond just fundraising, for charities that implement nonprofit membership programs.
Membership Programs Build a Recurring Stream of Funding
One of the pain points that gets relieved is the focus on retaining your donor base. With a strong membership program, members will be billed each month or year automatically. The focus on building loyalty or requesting donations again can lessen for this set of donors because the rewards and benefits that come with nonprofit membership programs are built with that foundation in mind.
Ride with the Monthly Membership Trend
The monthly membership trend has become increasingly popular. Outside of the nonprofit industry, the monthly recurring service or goods industry ranges from pet goods, make-up and clothing, shaving products, to food preparation packages. The growth of this industry partially comes from the perspective that there is peace of mind that comes from taking care of something automatically each and every month without thought. Combining this concept with the mindset that people naturally want to give and be a part of a bigger cause, building the philosophy of nonprofit membership programs comes naturally. People want to be part of a bigger mission that they believe in. The perk of the membership program is that supporters are continuously part of your organization’s growth and success.
Provide Opportunities for Consistent Communication
Supporters that join nonprofit membership programs truly believe in your organization’s cause and mission. These members are your inner circle and you need to treat members as such. This is why the program is a great reason to keep in constant communication with your members. Members want to hear from you as the organization continues growing with new programs and developments. Giving members feedback on how their contributions help continues to build their loyalty and support. Some organizations call their monthly members Friends, Inner Circle, or something unique that calls out this special relationship.
Building Your Membership Program Model
Now that we understand the benefits of membership programs for nonprofits, let’s discuss the membership program model. When creating a membership program and presenting your benefits to prospective members, you should always be clear on what your value is, as an organization, and what benefits you will provide to members.
Monthly Membership Tiers
Monthly membership programs are typically offered in membership tiers. This means that there can be several membership options that differ in price, benefits, and rewards. The benefit of offering several tiers is that a nonprofit organization can maximize both ends: giving potential members an option to choose something that fits in their budget and giving others the option to donate more than the average donor. Membership tiers may range from $10-$20 on the lower end to around $100 per month on the upper end. Consider the rewards and benefits that each tier receives to incite more interest in considering higher membership levels. If you don’t have the bandwidth to support multiple levels, that’s fine too.
Offer Annual Payment Options, Too
While monthly membership programs typically offer membership packages by the month, another way to pique a potential member’s interest is by offering an annual membership fee discount. This means that rather than relying on monthly recurring billing, you can offer a discount to them to pay an entire annual membership. This is an especially attractive option on #GivingTuesday and around year-end giving. The benefit for the nonprofit organization is that you secured a year’s worth of donations all at once, for a small discount.
Our Donation Websites Provide Easy Recurring Donation Functionality
Sounds great, right? But how are you going to manage monthly memberships? You need a recurring donation management system that allows donors to sign up online for recurring donation payments on a monthly or annual basis.
After you complete the launch of your monthly giving program, add this monthly giving as an option to all of your fundraising materials: giving forms, donor envelopes, email announcements, newsletters, and your organization’s website.
Creating Rewards and Benefits for Your Members
While many donors want to give for altruistic support, offering rewards and benefits is an important way to grow their loyalty and build their relationship with your organization. Here are some rewards and benefits to consider including at each tier of membership programs for nonprofits.
Store or Program Discounts
If your nonprofit organization sells accessories or custom products, a member perk can include offering store discounts on all purchases. Offering a 10-20% discount to members can also help your organization to sell more. Such discounts can also be offered if your nonprofit organization hosts any educational programs, courses, or classes.
Learn more about nonprofit merchandise sales and our free online stores for nonprofits.
Fundraising Event-Oriented Benefits
Since nonprofit events are often one of the backbones of fundraising, many benefits can be offered around the events hosted by the organization. Such benefits include:
- Discounts for event tickets
- VIP status for signature event tickets
- Exclusive event invitations for members only
- Early bird discount access
Swag or Promotional Gifts
Everyone loves freebies and gifts. As a token of appreciation for becoming a member, giving swag or promotional gifts to new members is one way to say thank you. Promotional gifts can include tote bags, apparel, key chains, jewelry, or other items that may also highlight your organization’s brand. However, do be mindful of the capacity to fulfill this type of perk.
Exclusive Updates or Newsletters
While sending newsletters is a good practice to have for all nonprofit organizations, one can be created specifically for members. The newsletter can include exclusive discounts, gifts, or updates that pertain to the members. Some member-specific updates may be news on a certain program, student, animal, or another recipient that their membership supports.
On the other hand, for the general newsletter and social media feed, utilize nonprofit membership program experiences as a testimonial to the larger audience of supporters. For example, ask members to share their reasons why they decided to become a member. This can be impactful content to add to targeted Facebook or website ads for demographics interested in philanthropy, as well.
While not so much of a benefit or perk, but more so a helpful strategy in maintaining donor loyalty, request for members’ birthdays so that the nonprofit organization can send a birthday greeting and a thank you note for their continued support. Even taking advantage of sending online or physical greeting cards during the holiday is just another way to show that their donation matters and your organization appreciates them as a member.
Conclusions on Nonprofit Membership Programs
With a little bit of planning and careful execution, nonprofit membership programs can give a dramatic boost to your fundraising goals. Membership programs for nonprofits offer such advantages as growing a consistent stream of donations and building donor loyalty. Contact us to learn more about how to take advantage of integrating nonprofit membership programs into your organization’s website.