Membership Retention Tips
As important as it is to gain new members – keeping existing members is just, if not more critical, to the success of your chapter. Interestingly enough, the average membership retention rate for a GCSAA-affiliated chapter over the past five years is 95%. So, maybe the question is not just keeping members, but keeping members happy and engaged.
Experts say it costs 13 times as much money to recruit a member than retain an existing member. Membership retention should be a key area of focus for your chapter!
Here are some ideas:
- Use focus groups and member surveys to find out whether you’re keeping pace with members’ needs.
- Ask members what they value from their membership. For example, what can’t they afford to miss at your chapter events?
- Establish a buddy or mentoring system. Ask members to call new members, or members who haven’t attend an event for awhile. These can be “How are you doing?” phone calls. Extend a personal invitation, offer to pick them up and introduce them to other members and guests at chapter meetings. Take them to lunch or get together for golf. Discuss what resources are available to support them and how to take advantage of what the chapter offers.
- Engage new members. Ask members to call new members after they join your chapter. Call them regularly to discuss upcoming events and ask them if they’re receiving chapter information and are taking advantage of what’s available to them. Introduce new members at chapter meetings and feature them in the newsletter and/or website.
- Conduct a new member orientation. Review chapter membership benefits, events, volunteer opportunities and board responsibilities. Offer activities that introduce new members to the board and their peers. The opportunity to meet and network with peers also reinforces the decision for joining. Provide a welcome packet that contains a description of member benefits and services, the membership directory, chapter bylaws, chapter publication, contact list of the board members and committees and membership card.
- Offer activities for different membership classifications – For example, offer programs for assistant superintendents that allow them to network and learn.
- A member needs assessment should be conducted every 1-2 years. Here is a sample assessment (link to s:/chapter/extranet/2006redesign/membership/sample member needs assessment).
- Once the feedback has been gathered from the member assessment, try and build programs and services around it. Communicate the results with the membership.
- Communicate the “value” not “features” of your membership.
- Features example: “Through your membership you receive a magazine, member forum, and web site access.
- Value example: “Through your membership, you have access to discussion forums through which you can make real-time connections with thousands of professionals who can offer ideas on solving the challenges faced at your facility”.
- Additional Ideas
- List the year’s events on the back of the membership card. This allows members to plan accordingly.
- Promote a member benefit in each issue of your newsletter and/or e-publication and the website
- Provide renewing members with a one-page membership benefits piece
- Send a thank you to the renewing member and offer to send a thank you to their employer, highlighting the value they receive from chapter membership
- Use postcards or e-mail invitations to remind members of upcoming events and meetings. Include a tear-off option (postage paid) to collect RSVPs for events.
- Send personalized, handwritten notes when possible to members
- Provide members with a decal that contains the chapter logo, or provide other promotional items such as pens that they can use to advertise your chapter
- Give members a gift certificate for chapter events or products on their birthday or membership anniversary date.
- Conduct informal polls on the website that address a variety of topics. Include some topics regarding chapter membership and other topics related to golf course management
- Respect your members’ time. Plan meetings and events carefully and keep them on track.
- Provide plenty of networking time at chapter events. Incorporate group discussion time into meetings and programs whenever possible.
- Offer a variety of topics – agronomic, business, communication, general management and personal development. This provides a well-rounded program that helps cover a range of interests.
- Recognize member achievements
- Continually ask members to evaluate chapter programs, services, events, goals and the strategic plan
Use Your Chapter’s Best Resources – Its Members
Don’t forget to look within your chapter to identify members who can strengthen the association. There are individuals who have talents, skills and abilities to help your chapter achieve its goals. Ask yourself these questions:
- Who is successful at raising funds and can influence others to contribute dollars for research and scholarships?
- Is there anyone who has strong technology skills that could help manage the website or other services?
- Who is an effective speaker and could represent our association well at trade shows, conferences and other events?
- Who has experience in working with the media?
- Who has experience, or is willing to work, with lobbyists, elected officials, coalitions or special interest groups?
- Who are potential board members?
- Who has strong public relations skills and can communicate the value of the golf course superintendent?
- Who is actively involved in the community, allied associations, growth of the game opportunities, etc. and is willing to recruit volunteers to get others involved? (Examples: First Tee, Junior Golf).
- What other talents, skills or abilities do members have that they could contribute to our chapter?