Real-World Fundraising Tactics for Membership Organizations
“Figure out your ideal fit of a member — age, other demographics, and details down to what magazines he or she reads,” Brodovsky recommends to better connect to members’ emotions and needs.
“When being general with communications, organizations can end up connecting to no one,” she warns.
Soroptimist boasts an impressive member giving rate of 12 percent. Clear messaging through multiple channels reinforces the case for support. Members are solicited via direct mail, email and social media — although communication is not always about a direct ask.
“Other communications are more about engagement, education and getting members involved,” Montvydas says.
Education is also key to Soroptimist’s giving program, and it begins at the top. A fundraising council of the board conducts regular town-hall calls with club presidents to explain how contributions are used. Club giving is an important source of revenue for the organization, with 80 percent of clubs making gifts.
More giving = better benefits
For some membership organizations, dues and donations are really one and the same. The draw to give more is better benefits.
This is the case for the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library, which has 3,000 members. To help determine what membership benefits matter most, Executive Director Scott Staub recommends regular membership surveys.
“We survey members every two years to find out what benefits they like the most,” Staub says. “We were surprised to find out that the second most popular benefit was tickets to member previews for book sales.”
This information has helped inform the focus of membership appeals as well as timing.
Elite levels of membership and giving clubs can help members set their sights on higher donations. Staub recently introduced a leadership circle with recognition levels ranging from $1,500 to $25,000 — a significant increase from the prior high club level of $1,000.