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Creating a Nonprofit Membership Program

Posted by Steven Wesley on Mar 29, 2018 12:18:00 PM

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Creating a Nonprofit Membership Program


A membership program is one of the most fruitful nonprofit funding models. It allows charity organizations to maintain financial stability and focus on real work instead of chasing money day after day. However, it’s not easy to create a successful membership program.

The competition in this sector is severe as more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations are registered in the US alone. According to the recent study, almost 60% of associations reported membership levels remained flat or declined.

This means that you need to come up with an excellent campaign in order to attract enough monthly donors for your projects. In this article, we will show you how to create a nonprofit membership program and secure funding from monthly giving.

The Benefits of Membership Programs

A one-time donation can sometimes be more generous than the whole year of monthly payments, but you don’t want to sit with your arms crossed and wait for this kind of miracle to happen. On the contrary, you should try to approach monthly givers for a variety of reasons:

  • Stability: People who apply to the membership program are regular donors who will give you a certain amount of money each month. This provides long-term stability for your organization and allows your team to function without setbacks.
  • Reliability: Monthly giving is an automated process, which means that donors don’t have to make a decision every time they conduct the payment. A lot of givers would stop donating if they had to go to the bank and make the transfer each month. This way, funding is more reliable and you can count on regular income.
  • Planning: As membership programs ensure financial stability, you can actually make long-term plans and prepare for the future campaigns. You can also aim at bigger and more expensive projects because you know that regular donors won’t leave so soon.
  • Community building: Monthly contributors often build a strong relationship with nonprofits and feel like they belong to the wider group of like-minded individuals. They are proud of contributing to the higher cause, so the group remains stable and probably even expands over time.

How to Create a Successful Membership Campaign

The popularity of membership campaigns is growing because nonprofit organizations know the benefits we mentioned above. If you want to join this game and design your own program, you should follow a few simple steps. Let’s check them out here:


Analyze target audience

The first phase of this process is audience targeting and analysis. You need to know your average donor and build a campaign around his/her personal beliefs and values. There are basically 3 types of audiences you can aim at – existing members, one-time contributors, and people who have never donated to your organization.  

Existing members could inspire their friends to join you, while part of the one-time donors could become regular contributors. The third group is a bit vague but very broad, so you need to discover where potential members hang out and how to approach them.

In each case, you should make a list of people who might be interested in joining the nonprofit community and direct marketing campaign in their direction. Bear in mind that 71% of US charitable giving comes from individuals – some of them must be your target audience.


Set membership fees

This is an extremely important phase of the project because unreasonably high or low fees can make or break the entire membership program. You need to be clear with your goal and answer one question: How much money do I need to keep the nonprofit running?

Once you’ve answered this question precisely, you can determine monthly fees for the members. We suggest you design a few packages to make offers interesting for different groups. For instance, you could do something like this:

  • Standard fees: An average fee for regular members.
  • Student and senior fees: You need to allow smaller monthly payments for these groups.
  • Premium: It’s a premium package for exclusive members who would receive small perks in exchange for a higher fee.


Offer benefits

There are many altruists out there, but most of them still want to get something in return. It could be a sheer feeling of appreciation or a small gift, so you need to figure it out. Sometimes a simple “Thank You” note will do well, while on other occasions you will provide members with event tickets, free newsletters, invitations to community building sessions, etc. The logic behind this phase is simple – you give a small benefit to program participants to get a much bigger benefit in return.


Send an appeal letter

Writing a perfect appeal letter is one of the most important requirements for creating a successful membership program. You must craft it so as to fit the expectations of a potential donor, which means it has to be polite, concise, and informative.

In case you are not sure whether you can write an appeal letter this way, we recommend you try one of the following services:

  1. Essay on Time: It’s a team of professional writers who can give you great appeal letter suggestions, proofread content, or even write it on your behalf.
  2. Hemingway App: This is the digital proofreading tool that can ensure appeal letter is error-free. At the same time, Hemingway App will assess the overall readability of your text.


Utilize social media

This is the obvious but important suggestion – use social media to address the wider audience. Facebook, Twitter, and other networks gather millions of users and you have to exploit these resources to invite people to join your nonprofit membership program.


Membership programs keep many nonprofits alive because they generate enough donations each month to keep organizations financially stable. But it’s not easy to design a fruitful membership campaign because hundreds of similar associations want exactly the same thing.

For this reason, you have to understand the basic principles of charity funding and come up with the best funding idea for your projects. We showed you how to create a nonprofit membership program, so don’t hesitate to follow our suggestions and secure funding from monthly giving.

Short bio:

Steven Wesley is a creative writer interested in public relations, fundraising, tech, and digital marketing. Besides, Steve believes in the mighty power of the pen to change the modern world. Drop him a line on Twitter and Facebook!

Topics: fundraising, nonprofit, membership programs, nonprofit management, fundraising campaigns, nonprofit membership program

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