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Making Member Data Count + 10 Fields to Help Your Organization Grow!

Author: Terry Ibele
December 9, 2022
🕑 11 min read

Growing your membership organization is all about one thing: fostering strong connections with your membership base. Believe it or not, this all starts with member data management!

Collecting accurate member data helps you to grow, engage and retain your members for the long haul. After all, if you want to meet your members’ needs, you need to learn about who they are and what they want from your organization.

Why did they join in the first place? How much do they usually donate? Are they coming to your events regularly?

Whether you’re working with nonprofit, chamber, club or association membership management, all the information you need should be in your database. Think of member management as relationship building. Capturing the right data is the first step to connecting!

Here’s everything you need to know about member data—plus 10 must-have data fields for your membership form.

The Benefits of Capturing Member Data

Now that you’re curious about member data management, you might be wondering just how much it can do for your organization!

Collecting valuable member data helps you:

  1. Build your member database: This is where you store all the member information that your staff needs to stay in contact with your members. The front-facing version of this is your member directory, which helps your members connect to one another as a community.
  2. Create better experiences for your members: By exploring member data and tracking engagement, you learn about what your members want in this relationship. Do your members want volunteer opportunities? Networking events? The data can tell you!
  3. Base your marketing and events on data: Successful membership programs know how to craft relevant marketing messages and send them through the channels where members are paying the most attention. Similarly, collecting the right data reveals what sorts of events your members are most likely to attend.

While gathering member data might make you feel like a dragon building up its hoard of gold, keep in mind that this information is USEFUL. After all, the more you learn about your members, the easier it is to meet their needs.

Click through to claim your 60-day trial of WildApricot to create effective QR codes that will speed up event check-in.

How to Collect Member Data

Rocking your behind-the-scenes member data management starts with gathering that essential information! Looking for how to get started?

Here’s how to collect member data in 6 easy steps:

1. Decide what information you want to collect

Look, there is a LOT of information that you can learn about your members. Be sure to collect the data that’s most useful to your organization.

This can include:

  • How to reach them (phone, email, etc.)
  • Demographic information (location, gender, etc.)
  • Relationship to your organization (how they learned about you, why they joined, what they hope to see you do, etc.)
  • Level of engagement (how much they donate, what events they attend, if they volunteer, etc.)

Keep in mind that none of this information exists in a vacuum! By gathering all of this data, you can learn how the information connects and draw useful conclusions.

2. Look at your existing member data (+ clean up if needed!)

Take a look at what information you currently have about your members. What do you already have covered? Are there any obvious gaps in there?

Data tells a story, so take a look at what your story is currently telling you. If there’s any missing information you wish you had, now is the time to gather it with some membership database management!

If you discover that your information is kind of a hot mess (don’t worry, it happens!) take some time to clean up your database. This will help reduce the overwhelm!

3. Create a plan to capture new member data

Once you know what data you’d like to bring in, you need to decide how you’re going to get it. Not only will you want to connect with new members through application forms, but you’ll also want to fill in the blanks with long-time supporters.

Consider sending out a questionnaire with a perk for filling it out or including updated required fields during renewal. Do your best to have every field filled for every member! This will give you the most accurate reports and analytics possible.

4. Communicate how data will be used (+ think of data security!)

An essential part of member onboarding is building trust. People are very protective of their data—and rightly so! Be transparent about how their data will be used so your members can feel like they’re making an informed decision.

This security is especially important when it comes to peoples’ financial information. Make sure your payment processor is PCI-compliant, and that you only work with trusted partners!

5. Widen your collection methods

People have different preferences when it comes to sharing information, so be sure to offer multiple opportunities for members to share data.

You can widen your collection methods by using:

  1. Your membership application form. Have people give you the information you need from the moment they sign up.
  2. Member satisfaction surveys. Check in on how your members are feeling about being a part of your program
  3. Online tracking. See which members are signing in and engaging with their perks.
  4. Events and programming engagement tracking. Explore who’s regularly attending and participating in your events.

Working with the best membership platforms should give you the software you need to work with all of these tools and more!

6. Analyze!

Like we said—no information exists in a vacuum, and your data should tell a story. Whether you’re working with nonprofit, chamber or association membership management, your member data directly reflects how things are going.

For example, if members under 40 aren’t attending your events, you likely want to update your programming to reach a younger audience! Analyzing your data is how you discover the opportunities your organization has to grow.

Bonus Tip: Regularly clean up your database! 

Information gets out of date and details sometimes get lost in the admin chaos. Ongoing database hygiene will make it much easier to get what you need from your member data.

Member Data Management Software

It’s certainly possible to manually collect member data using Excel and Outlook and physical registration forms, but we wouldn’t say it’s the best use of your time! Working with membership management software is the best way to simplify member data management.

Here at WildApricot, we have the tools to collect and track member data, manage memberships and host your content in one place. 

Our features include:

  • A customizable member database
  • A website builder
  • Event management software
  • Newsletter and email support
  • Secure payment processing
  • And more!

Sign up for our 60-day free trial to get support with all your member management needs!

If you’re specifically searching for member association software, check out our friends over at MemberClicks. Their specialized resources are designed to support the unique needs of associations and chambers of commerce.

10 Member Data Fields to Help Your Organization Grow

Now that you know the value of collecting member data, you might be wondering which information is the most useful for your organization!

Here are 10 member data fields that best support your member management:

1) Join Date

Including the join date is an automatic trigger for renewals—but it’s also a great way to set up a simple member appreciation strategy.

Here’s the idea:

On the anniversary of a member joining (or on the sixmonthiversary, or whichever versary you choose!), send them an appreciation email. Talk about how their contribution to the organization made a difference this year. You can even offer a small gift such as a discount to your next event as a simple thank you!

As Steve Olenski of Marketing Land says, “The more a customer feels appreciated by a business, the more he or she is likely to support that company and recommend it to others.” The same logic applies to membership organizations. By simply logging the join date in the system, you have an opportunity to keep up that growing connection.

Remember: member appreciation is the gateway to member retention!

Free Member Application Forms

2) Reason for Joining

If you’re looking to boost your member growth, knowing the reason a member joined is crucial. Your membership form can have an open field for comments, multiple choice options or both.

The responses you receive give you an inside look into which benefits are most attractive to new members. With that information, you can pour more resources into those benefits and attract even more members!

Take Dr. Samuel Dyer, CEO and Chairman of the Board of the Medical Science Liaison Society, as an example. By tracking the reasons members joined his organization, Dyer discovered his membership’s primary desire was access to the exclusive results of a salary survey he published for his industry.

With this information, Dr. Dyer decided to give that survey a facelift! The result? Over the next four years, his organization brought in over 500 new members.

Giving what your members want (and expect!) is what will keep them by your side.

3) “How did you hear about us?”

Many small to medium-sized organizations don’t actually know the return on investment of their marketing initiatives. This information is super important because it tells you what’s working best, which informs what you want your budget to look like!

Imagine you run a newspaper ad. In order to see if the ad is worth the cost, you have to get an idea of how many members were inspired to join after seeing it.

The math is simple: dues from new members who joined because of the ad ÷ cost of ad = return on investment!

Knowing the cost of the ad is easy, but finding out how many members joined because of it is a little more tricky. Asking each and every member how they first heard about your organization clears up the mystery and shows you if your marketing is actually working!

4) Event Registrations & Attendance

As Mike Morrison of The Membership Guys says, “keeping your members engaged and happy is key to maximizing your member lifecycle.” And what better way is there to foster member engagement than by holding awesome events?

Keeping track of event registration and attendance shows you who’s loving your organization—but it also shows you who’s the least engaged! The good news? Knowing who’s tapped out is the first step in bringing them back in.

If you have a member who’s stopped attending all of your events, you can send them a “win-back” email. An email with a special offer like a discounted ticket to an event is the perfect way to re-engage that member with your organization.

(Psst—WildApricot’s membership management software can help you automate those emails no problem!)

5) Donation Amount

If you want to grow your membership base, you want to track exactly which members donate and how much they’re giving.

Here are three steps for using this member data effectively:

  1. Put a donation field in your membership application form. People are more willing to donate to your organization at the time they’re paying for a membership. Once you do this, you’ll know exactly who’s donated and how much.
  2. Email your members a story about how their donation made a difference. Sixty percent of first time donors want to know this information before making a second donation. Use your donation field to keep track of how many people become recurring donors.
  3. Send all your donating members an annual personalized thank-you email. Use your data to remind them how much they donated last time and ask them to donate the same amount again. Be sure to include a direct link to your donation page!

By simply knowing how much people donate, you can increase your future donations!

6) Willingness to Volunteer

Monetary donations aren’t the only way people can support your organization—they can also volunteer! Volunteers are worth their weight in gold, but you don’t want to be scrambling for people when the time comes to look for them.

In your membership form, include a field that asks: “Are you willing to volunteer?”

Whenever you need a volunteer, you can simply filter your database for people who answered “yes,” Voila! You’ve got a list of ready-to-volunteer individuals.

You can even go so far as to create checkboxes for types of volunteer needs and which days work best. Member data management is all about gathering the most useful information, so feel free to ask important questions up front.

7) Profile Information

Whether you’re filling out your internal member database or your front-facing member directory, it’s important to make sure you have the basics covered for profile information. Plus, if you’re using a member directory (and you should be!), this information is essential for your members to network.

Here are the must-track fields for a member’s profile:

  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Email
  • Phone Number
  • Address

With solid member management software, members will be able to log into their profiles and update the information themselves. No more manual work for you!

Member profile attachments banner

8) Membership Level

Being able to track each member’s level is a quick way to see if you’re creating the right amount of value for each level. Most membership programs have free, regular and premium options, which increase in value at each price point.

To make the most of this data, first tally up how many members you have in each level. Over time, you’ll be able to see how the percentage of members changes in each level, like in the graphs below:

Member data

In this example, the increase in Regular memberships seems to indicate that many Free members upgraded in Year 2. This could be because of an increase in value for Regular memberships!

However, Premium memberships went down in Year 2—this could be a sign that your organization needs to offer higher exclusive value to Premium members.

Using a membership level field shows you how attractive membership is to your supporters, and how well you’re doing at meeting their needs over time!

Free Member Application Forms

Read More: The Complete Guide to Setting Up a Robust Membership Model

9) Renewal Date

Knowing the renewal date of your members is a must-have for keeping up with renewal reminders! Losing track of that date makes it hard to know when to send out those emails, and without a reminder, members will often forget to renew.

You can either set your members’ renewal dates:

  • The same day for every member. This will keep things nice and simple for you. For example, a single mass email could go out January 1st.
  • The day individual members joined. This is where that field is extra useful! This custom element lets you connect with members on their specific anniversaries. However, you’ll definitely want software that can track those dates and automate renewal emails.

The choice is really yours! No matter which route you go, a good strategy to use is sending out a renewal reminder email two weeks before, one week before and on the day of the date.

10) Member Payment Status

This field lays out the essentials: who’s paid, who’s overdue and who’s lapsed. This information is crucial to maintaining a healthy cash flow for your organization!

If you’ve noticed that someone is lapsed or overdue, this is the perfect opportunity to make a new connection. Let them know you value their membership, and check in on if there is anything they’d like to see your organization doing better.

For example, if the work of renewing their membership feels too clunky, it might be time to look into a better payment processor. This will keep members happy while saving you the work of chasing people down!

If financial support simply isn’t in the cards, that’s okay. Let those members know how much you value their support and that there are plenty of free ways to keep connecting.

Ready to Become a Member Database Pro?

Your member data is one of the greatest assets you have as an organization! Using these 10 member data fields will help you develop strategies to grow, engage and retain more members for your organization.

And if you don’t have an easy way to collect and track member data already, consider using WildApricot’s all-in-one membership management software. We can help you build your database, create your website, automate emails and more!

Sign up for your 60-day trial of WildApricot to learn what we can do for you.

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