Real-World Fundraising Tactics for Membership Organizations
The Junior League of Wilmington, a local women’s volunteer organization in Delaware with 400 members, also has had success with reconsidering its giving club levels.
“We were aiming too low with $500 as our highest recognition level,” President Susan Coulby says. “A past president approached us and said that if we created a $1,000 level she would double her gift to be the first name there.”
The response was positive, and other members stretched their giving, as well.
Recognition can be a strong motivation, particularly within membership organizations in which members know each other.
“Competition isn’t necessarily a bad thing when it comes to generosity,” Coulby says.
Recognition for members donating at all levels is important, Staub emphasizes.
“Just last year we started recognizing all donors who have given 10 years or more, regardless of amount,” Staub says, adding that those donors receive a Thanksgiving card and a personal thank-you call from a board member. Subsequent giving is being tracked to determine the results.
The timing of fundraising solicitations in relation to dues collection is an important factor to consider to avoid donor fatigue or confusion. To help members differentiate between dues and fundraising appeals, Soroptimist collects dues in the summer when clubs are not as active, and the appeal process runs fall through spring. Plus, an option to donate with dues payment is offered to members. The Friends of the San Francisco Public Library has rolling membership renewal, and each member receives up to three reminders. Members also receive an end-of-year appeal and a special director’s appeal in June.
Know your goals
Renewing existing members is fundamental to the success of membership organizations, but in order to thrive, membership organizations seek to add new members. The critical question to ask, Brodovsky advises, is to consider whether your goal is membership growth or revenue growth.