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Jan 15, 2021 BY Tatiana Morand UX Design & Content, Marketing

How to Retain Members Throughout COVID-19 and Beyond

Note: This is a guest post from Wild Apricot.

Discover three of the best strategies for keeping members around during the best of times and the worst of times.


COVID-19 has been a huge blow for us all, and social distancing has made it difficult for membership organizations to partake in their usual activities. However, just because we can’t meet in person, doesn’t mean you can’t provide value. In fact, COVID-19 has forced nonprofits to get creative when it comes to fundraising events that help bring in donations and engage and retain members.

Here are just a few of our favorites:

  • mother2mothers traded in their in-person bicycling event with a virtual rowing challenge and raised $350,000 this year.

  • The Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project hosted an online viewing party of the documentary “Immigration Nation” for over 70 donors.

  • Project 44 developed a “Trash 2020” social challenge where participants tried to get as many paper wads into a trashcan as they could, then challenge their friends to do the same and post their videos over Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

As you can see, there are a lot of events you can host to keep members engaged and raise support. But some of the best strategies for retaining your members from a distance aren’t events.

To help keep your members happy throughout COVID-19, here are three membership retention strategies that your members will love and aren’t a big investment of time and money for you.

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Strategy 1: Update your Website

With more and more people online, it’s a great time to make sure your web presence is as strong as it can be. If members can’t find the information they need on your membership site, why would they stick around?

Plus, our recent research report revealed that organizations have the biggest difficulty reaching potential members through their websites, so it’s a widespread problem.

Setting up your website correctly can help you with both acquisition and retention, and the good news is, small changes can go a long way. COVID-19 has required some organizations to tackle larger technology issues that have been plaguing them for a while, but if you don’t have the time or resources, try fixing smaller issues. Either way, you’ll be improving the member experience.

Here are a few things you should make sure are up to date:

  • Contact information

  • Calendar of events

  • Testimonials and videos

  • Homepage navigation and appeal (does it draw people in?)

Literacy Partners has a homepage that’s clear, uses powerful visuals, and offers direct paths for members to learn more about them and get involved in their mission.

Literacy Partners' website

Wondering what you could do to improve your website? Here are more examples of strong nonprofit websites.

Strategy 2: Run a Member Satisfaction Survey

Who better to tell you what to improve than your members? If you’re worried that members aren’t sticking around because you’re not providing enough value, but aren’t sure what the issue is, surveys make it clear.

When it comes to what to ask members, the sky’s the limit…but be mindful of asking too many questions. Too many questions, or questions that are overly complex, could deter people from taking the survey or completing it.

You can ask members simple and straight-forward questions about the content you’re sharing, what type of events they’d like to see, opinions about the frequency of meetings, really, anything you want to learn about.

Some sample questions include:

1. How satisfied are you with your membership?

2. How likely are you to renew your membership?

3. What was your favorite activity this year?

4. What would make your membership more valuable to you?

5. How does the cost of your membership compare to the value you get from it?

And, remember, even though we’re talking about member retention, it’s a good idea to survey others important to your organization like volunteers, staff, and donors.

Skype support uses a quick, anonymous survey they send to users right after an interaction with them, which is the best time to ask for feedback.

skype survey

Get more questions and a survey template here!

Strategy 3: Vary Your Membership Levels

Since people are struggling financially during COVID-19, it may force them to cancel their membership because they’re worried they can’t afford it or won’t have time to take full advantage of member benefits. To help avoid canceled memberships, allow members to pause their membership when they request to cancel. Many organizations have decided to let members pay a significantly reduced amount to maintain their membership until they can afford to pay the full amount again.

You can also offer lower membership tiers that only give access to some of your content to keep members participating even if they can’t afford the full fee at this time. When they feel they can afford more, they can rejoin the full paid membership. You may even find that membership is growing because people appreciate the lower tiers as well.

We hope one of these member retention strategies will be helpful for your organization through the rest of COVID-19 and beyond!

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Bio

Tatiana Morand is the SEO & Content Manager at Wild Apricot, the #1 Membership Management Software for small organizations. When she's not creating content to support revenue & membership growth, she's drinking coffee & working on her fantasy novel.


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