Thought Leadership

Are you maximizing your Membership Program? “Use Your Membership Program as a Tool for Stewardship”

By: Dwayne Ashley, CEO, and Latoya Henry, Executive Consultant, Bridge Philanthropic Consulting, LLC

We receive a lot of inquiries about membership programs and how to grow, manage and strategies for diversifying the programs. So, we decided to share some of our “Pearls of Wisdom” on membership programs. We know you are all busy, so we designed this as a simple Q & A format. Latoya and I have been involved with membership programs for years as former employees and consultants, so we bring a vast amount of experience to this conversation.

Question 1:  What are the key factors for building a robust non-profit membership program?

Answer: BPC Believes that to build a robust non-profit membership program, it is important to understand your audience and assets to be activated as a benefit, establish clear goals, provide valuable opportunities from your assets, and effectively communicate your mission. It’s about creating a community of people who believe in your cause and want to be a part of the change you drive.

Question 2:  How can the sector address the underrepresentation of BIPOC communities in their non-profit and association membership programs?

Answer: BPC believes that Organizations can address the underrepresentation of BIPOC communities in their membership programs by creating specific programs targeted at these communities. This could include special events, targeted communications, or tailored benefits that cater to the unique challenges and needs of BIPOC communities. By focusing on inclusivity, organizations can ensure that their membership is representative of the diverse community they serve.

Question 3:  What are some key aspects of a successful membership program?

Answer: Some key aspects of a successful membership program include offering valuable benefits that align with the organization’s mission and values, providing members with a sense of belonging and recognition, and creating opportunities for meaningful engagement. It’s not just about the number of benefits offered but the value these benefits bring to members and the meaningful relationship created with the organization.

The most important thing is understanding that membership is a stewardship tool that can be used for all donors. The goal should always be to convert new members who may come through an entry-level free program to donors and volunteers.

Question 4:  What strategies can be used to promote and activate a non-profit membership program?

Answer: Strategies to promote and activate a non-profit membership program include storytelling to inspire others to join, regular communication with members to keep them updated on the organization’s work, and making the sign-up process simple and user-friendly. It is also important to provide different membership levels to cater to people with different capacities to give.

About the authors:

Dwayne Ashley has utilized his knowledge of fundraising and passion for social justice to create opportunities for people of color through his founding of Bridge Philanthropic Consulting (BPC), the nation’s only full-service Black Owned fundraising and social impact firm. Throughout his career, Dwyane sought to align with organizations that shared his values regarding the betterment of Black-and-Brown people and, through that alignment, has raised over $1 billion to support those communities.

In addition to professional organizations, Dwayne is also a member of community-based organizations like AADO, AFP, One Hundred Black Men of New York and a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, where he has been honored with the ‘Bigger Better Business’ award leading to his five-time inclusion in Ebony Magazine’s list for most influential Black Americans.

He is an alumnus of HBCU, Wiley College, and the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels School of Government.

Latoya A. Henry is a philanthropy expert and public relations and marketing communications professional with more than 20 years of experience in the corporate and non-profit sectors. She has worked at noted international public relations firms Cohn & Wolfe and Burson-Marsteller. She has also served as a Public Relations Specialist at Citigroup’s Smith Barney, where she provided public relations support for the firm’s financial advisors and products. Latoya’s non-profit experience includes her role as Director of Marketing at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Director of Membership, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and Head of Programs for the Usher New Look Foundation.

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