Real-World Fundraising Tactics for Membership Organizations
"I already paid my dues. Why am I being asked for a donation?” For membership organizations, this can be a feared response from members. However, a well-crafted case for support and creative approaches to fundraising can help change your membership’s culture into one of philanthropy.
“Don’t make fundraising a surprise,” says Beth Brodovsky, president of Iris Creative Group, a consulting firm specializing in strategic membership communications. “Let members know up front that you’re a fundraising organization. Show pride in what you’re doing through member-funded programs.”
She recommends that membership organizations develop a strong case for support that can be used to guide communications.
“For many membership organizations, so much communication focuses on renewals, and solicitation is almost an afterthought,” she says. “Organizations need to communicate who they are and what their funding needs are.”
Clearly, recruiting new members who understand that dues alone do not sustain membership organizations is imperative, but what do you do when existing members do not necessarily understand this? Educate. Soroptimist International of the Americas, a global women’s volunteer organization with 34,000 members in 20 countries, makes a strong case for fundraising.
“Member dues pay for member services governance and the operating backbone of the organization so contributions can solely support programs and fundraising,” says Senior Director of Development Nancy Montvydas.
That said, a challenge for this global organization is countering the mind-set of donations staying locally in the more than 1,300 clubs versus benefiting the organization’s global programs. This is where consistent messaging plays an important role.
Stay on target
To make sure your communications resonate with members, Brodovsky recommends borrowing from the corporate world and developing a persona to target messaging. A persona is a finely detailed description of whom you are talking to.