Membership Marketing Data: A Crash Course for Nonprofits

It’s common sense that having healthy membership at your organization and a strategic marketing plan go hand-in-hand. But in the age of burnout and endless Excel sheets…how do you efficiently utilize data to guide you toward the right decisions?

It’s time to pack up the clipboards and posters. With the right approach, you can make the most of your marketing efforts without expending a ton of time or resources. From tools (like leveraging video) to strategies, we’ll walk you through harnessing the most important part of a marketing plan—your data.

Why Marketing Data Matters for Nonprofits

Think of data like a boosting fertilizer for all branches of marketing. Without it, you can still grow results, but not to their full potential. Reflect back on all the information you’ve already gathered up until this point in your nonprofit. Most likely, you’ve been keeping track of:

  1. Documenting past successes
  2. Learning points from past shortcomings
  3. Member and prospect profiles

These three points are the cornerstone of any data-driven organization. But while a lot of nonprofits have this information…they usually lack the resources to use it efficiently. Smaller teams and endless tasks, from events to campaigns, puts cracking the code on your data in the back seat.

Comprehensive membership management software allows your organization to facilitate this process, so you can nurture existing members and attract new ones with ease.

Membership Marketing Essentials

To start out, you’ll need to determine which tools you’ll use to collect data, what you intend to use the data for, and how to execute your plan.

The Right Tools

Your organization can collect data through CRMs integrated in your inbox, registration forms, or, most notably, association management software (AMS) or similar platforms designed specifically to manage memberships.

What is an AMS? It’s the ultimate hub for all your membership information—handy software that saves the day when your spreadsheets begin to overflow. An AMS can handle numerous tasks including creating reports, handling online event registration, and online payment processing. When it comes to the right AMS for you, you’ll have to consider your organization’s needs. To choose the right software, carefully consider these factors:

  • What are the fees?
  • How easy is it to learn the system?
  • Does the company offer technical support?
  • How soon do you need to set up the software?
  • What unique features would suit your organization?
  • What additional integrations, such as Quickbooks or WordPress, would you need?

Ease the load off of your regular data collection and management with a software that automates time-consuming administrative work for your organization. This will allow you to invest more time in improving the member experience.

The Right Data

Check if the data you’re collecting will eventually point you in the right direction. You’ll want to avoid the headache of combing through a backlog and searching for specifics you missed on the first go.

Consider important member data such as:

  1. Contact information, including phone number and email addresses.
  2. Demographic information, such as location and gender.
  3. History and expectations, including how members heard about your organization, why they joined, and what they expect to get out of their membership.
  4. Involvement, from donations to volunteering to event attendance.
  5. Pre-existing data to redux into the new system.

There is an abundance of additional member data you can collect to benefit your marketing plan, such as join date, membership levels, and payment statuses. Choosing the most appropriate ones will guide as you formulate your plan.

The Right Plan

What you collect will end up informing your next steps, so take the time to assess before jumping in headfirst. Your blueprints should address the following:

  1. Lessons from your past nonprofit marketing efforts
  2. A solid SMART goal for your organization
  3. Key performance indicators to measure success, such as email open rates, donations, and social media shares
  4. Your prospective audience
  5. Marketing platforms, including social media, blogs, email, and fundraising software (if relevant)

Simplifying your vision into a comprehensive, easy-to-access resource is a handy way to keep your team on the same page. From a presentation, a shiny infographic, or one-page pdf, this should provide everyone with a little guide to reference whenever they need a little direction.

The Right Strategies

Finally, include strategies and assessments within your marketing plan. You’ll want to anticipate your organization’s progress and growth. In fact, your marketing efforts can only improve when you know in advance how you’ll measure your progress.

From a list of tried and true marketing strategies, here are a handful of pointers:

  1. Check if your SMART goal is:
    • Specific. Do you know exactly what you are trying to achieve?
    • Measurable. How will your organization know when you have achieved it?
    • Attainable. Is it realistic?
    • Relevant. Will it contribute to the growth of your organization?
    • Time-bound. When do you want your plan to be achieved?
  2. Be present in the right places.
    • Show up where your ideal members frequent most.
    • Use your data to determine the hot spots.
  3. Don’t do it alone!
    • Partner with organizations that are relevant to your cause.
    • Are you hosting a cultural festival? Enlist vendors with followings that mirror your target audience.
    • Are you launching a newsletter campaign? Hire local-artists within your desired community to make the graphics.
  4. Have an accessible home-base, such as a website.
    • Create a place where current and prospective members can find resources.
    • Organize an easy-to-share calendar of upcoming events.
    • Set up a concise introduction page with vital information for interested sponsors or partners.
  5. Work with who’s already here.
    • Entice existing members with a referral program.
    • Host a contest or event that provides exposure and shows appreciation to your loyal members.

When your nonprofit’s journey is led by data-informed marketing, you can move forward with confidence and success. Between learning from the past and moving forward with intention, your staff can finally hang up their many hats and focus on the cause that inspires them.

Equipping tools like a trusty AMS makes reaching out to new and existing members effective and efficient. Hours on the clock are precious for nonprofits. It’s time to take back some of those minutes step-by-step by collecting relevant membership marketing data.

About the Author

Kerry McCreadie

What matters most to membership organizations? As the Senior Content Marketing Manager for Personify’s Wild Apricot and MemberClicks products, this is the question always on Kerry’s mind. Their goal is to help nonprofits, associations, and clubs discover the solutions that solve their most frustrating pain points—while growing and retaining their member base. The CEO and Founder of their own nonprofit organization, Kerry is passionate about nonprofit and charitable work—especially in the arts.


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