5 Member Retention Strategies for Nonprofits

5 Member Retention Strategies for Nonprofit

Once you’ve recruited volunteers to give time and money to your organization, how do you retain those volunteers? This question is even more critical in a time when inflationary pressure is limiting disposable income, and securing sufficient grants from foundations or government agencies is challenging. Long-term members will improve your ROI and can act as mentors to newer volunteers, which in turn leads to even better retention for those newer volunteers. In this article we’ll explore 5 member retention strategies that will help you retain your most valuable asset—your people!

1. Make it easy to join

  • Your organization needs to make it as simple and frictionless as possible for new members to sign up. Consider a progressive registration process that makes it easy for your new volunteer to give basic information to get in the door and asks for more later, once the volunteer is more committed to your organization.
  • Make it clear what the benefits are. For example, if a particular membership program gives discounts on merchandise or expedited service at events and meetings, be sure these benefits are clearly communicated in any marketing materials directed toward potential members (such as emails) and on the sign-up page itself (for example, if you’re using an online form).
  • Make sure your notification frequency is adjustable at the member level. If someone decides that they want to only receive notifications once per day, make it easy for them to set their preferences, so they don’t change their minds and disengage completely.
  • Make it easy to pay by credit card, PayPal, Apple Pay, or Venmo—and don’t require time-consuming bank transfers unless absolutely necessary.

2. Give your members a safe space to connect

If you’ve used social media as a means to grow and nurture your member community, you probably already know about the pitfalls. From the security risks to the lack of community insights and lack of data ownership, many community leaders are opting to abandon their social media groups for private digital communities.

By embracing private communities, leaders can ensure that only their members have access via an authenticated network

You want your members to feel like they are part of something special. And when you don’t have to worry about unwanted users, you can focus more on helping your members create personal connections to your cause and long-term community loyalty. 

Here are some ways to do this within your authenticated space:

  • Provide opportunities for members to share their experience with each other. For example, set up a “Community Water Cooler” group where people can post about what they’re learning or share photos from events.
  • Promote diversity, equity and inclusion by offering members who may feel disenfranchised or marginalized their own space to connect with like-minded members, voice their opinions, ask questions and share feedback. 


3. Stay relevant with targeted communications

But how do you make sure your members won’t tune you out? Instead of inundating your members with every post, notification or announcement, try segmenting your outreach – that is, dividing your members into different cohorts or subgroups to deliver more relevant and targeted communications. 

By making your communications more intentional, you’ll be able to send every member the news and events that are relevant to them, and nothing that isn’t. That way, members will start to recognize your communications as important to them, personally, and they’ll be less likely to ignore your messages. 

4. Celebrate your members

Celebrating your members will help them feel appreciated and recognized for all they do to contribute to the organization’s success. This includes celebrating the small things, such as birthdays and anniversaries, but also making a point of recognizing more significant achievements like meeting personal goals or an increase in community engagement. This member retention strategy helps show that your organization cares about its volunteers as individuals and appreciates their contributions, which can in turn motivate them to continue doing great things for you!

5. Always be listening

The best way to ensure member retention is by listening – listening to your staff, donors, volunteers and board members will help you better understand what they need from the organization and how their needs can be met through effective communication.

By regularly polling or surveying your members, monitoring your community groups, and regularly analyzing your retention data, you can spot trends in engagement and sentiment that will impact retention down the line.

To retain volunteers and donors (and encourage their networks to join), nonprofits need to make their members the center of their marketing strategy.

A volunteer’s connection with your organization is personal. Members want value and meaning, not just transactions. They want to be recognized and appreciated. So nonprofits need to think about how they can develop strong relationships with their members in order for those relationships to translate into better member retention.

By choosing a customizable, private online community platform for your membership, and following the 5 member retention strategies listed above, you can boost your engagement & retention, and finally stop relying on risky social media. 

Want to learn more? Book a quick 15 minute call with one of our Raftr Specialists.