Enticing Members With Loyalty Programs and Perks

Membership October 12, 2011

Lori Halley

By Lori Halley

In a post last week – Demonstrating Membership Value – I  pondered why some organizations are retaining and growing their membership base while others are struggling. While many folks say it is because they are offering member value - what does this really mean?

Tom Morrison suggests it means providing “services and products that your members can't provide themselves effectively.“  In his post - WOW... This Membership Thing Really Works! - he says “it’s not true… that members can get everything more effectively because of the internet.” He cautions us: “Don't buy the lie!  The membership model works” and offers some concrete examples of benefits that only membership can provide.

But Morrison also offers two other “key areas” on which associations should concentrate their efforts:

  • Key #2: Narrow your focus of benefits – choose the 3-5 things you do better than anyone in the world and handcuff [your] members to it and give them a reason to love it (e.g., online training; monthly benchmarking, conferences, etc.)
  • Key #3: Do all that you do with the WOW factor: …do everything to ensure [your] member experience at every level is not boring but has the opportunity to create memories and emotions that drive them to love [your] association.”

Can you entice members with perks?

This is great advice for organizations developing their strategic plans for the coming membership year. But as you develop your membership renewal or new member campaigns, you might also want to consider a question that Linda Owens posed in her Learning Along the Way blog:

 “what type of perks would entice the typical association member to choose to automatically renew their membership from year to year?”

To determine what perks to offer, you need to know what your members would value most. While Owens suggests a few examples of perks in her post – such as: “5% off the next Annual Conference registration fee” or “admittance to a free webinar held exclusively for Renewal Members only,” this type of incentive might not be effective for your membership. If you’re not sure what would add the greatest value – don’t forget that you can conduct an online survey your existing members to find out. With this information, you can identify perks and to follow Morrison's advice, also “narrow your focus of benefits.”

Once you figure out what might entice members, if your organization is using WildApricot’s membership management software, you can create customized emails to automatically renew memberships.

What about a loyalty program?

A while back I read a great post by Tobi Johnson where she asked: Why Not Design a Loyalty Program for Nonprofit Supporters? While she acknowledged that non-profits may not have tangible products to give away or the resources to launch a loyalty program like a large national business, she notes: “we do have experiences to share. With us, and through us, our supporters have the ability to feel the profound joy associated with helping others, the thrill of making a difference in a world where they may otherwise feel powerless, the deep satisfaction of knowing they have truly connected with their community.”

Johnson suggests that if non-profits – and one could also say membership organizations – “focused our energy on long-term investment over of short-term gain?  Our loyal fans might do the majority of your outreach and marketing for us.  We might not have to spend so much time and effort cultivating new supporters to replace those that have left via the revolving door.” 

Do you think that offering perks at renewal time or developing a loyalty program might help you retain members and even grow your organization?

We’d love to hear how your organization is offering up and demonstrating value to your community. Let us know in the comments below.


Photo credit: Marc Smith's Flickr photostream

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