Turning your supporters into long-term members | Dreamscape Solutions

Harnessing membership mentality

How to create a membership mentality in the charity sector.

Donors go by many different names in the nonprofit sector: donors, supporters, members, and prospects. But, whatever you call them, charities need to provide the value that comes with the feeling of membership.

What is membership mentality?

It’s the same feeling you get when you sign up for a subscription. We all know how soothing it is to put Netflix on and watch a programme everyone has raved about or order something last minute using Amazon prime. For those that have used and loved these services, we can’t imagine life without them.

A membership model relies on an organisation asking individuals to pay a recurring fee to access the value an organisation creates. While it may be easier for other businesses to offer something like a product or service, it prompts the question:

  • What are charities offering their donors?

  • What value are they bringing to existing and new supporters?

  • How does a charity convince recurring donors to keep giving?

According to data released in our 2020 Hospice Health Report, low retention is the number one problem for all non-profits. After the initial email thanking them for donating, charities tend to go silent and not offer any more communication, prompting donors not to feel valued and, as a result, stop supporting the cause.

The author Seth Godin said, “For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.”

It’s built-in that donors want to feel that sense of community in their chosen interactions. And charities need to offer value and communication to push them past the retention point.

Ways to create a membership mentality

Know your donors (members) exceptionally well

You can get to know your donors well in several ways. The first is the most simple; analyse the data and member metrics you currently have. Whether it’s from your backend CRM system that holds donors’ details or Google Analytics, you can see what donors are doing and their preferences.

If you show your donor precisely what they want to see, you’re creating a tailored donor journey that is not only going to make them feel special but more likely to continue giving. For example, if they have specified they only want to receive communications via email and never post, listen to them and their preferred needs.

You can also send out a donor survey to learn more about your donors and what you could do better. Here are a few example questions you could include:

  • Why Do You Give to Us?
  • How Do You Prefer to Donate?
  • How Much of an Impact Do You Feel Your Gift Has?
  • How Would You Rate Your Donation Experience?

Doing this will allow you to better understand your members’ needs and expectations, which is essential for sustainable fundraising growth.

Simplify the path to being a member (donor)

Don’t put any barriers in the way of potential supporters becoming donors. Make sure the joining process is quick, easy to follow and follow up with a thank you.

Testing your donation sign-up process is a good idea to ensure it’s seamless. Also, don’t include lengthy forms; give them a chance to turn off before donating and gain the data you need immediately; you can always ask for more information later. Finally, show potential supporters the value you will provide them if they join your mission. 

Use inclusive language

This is an obvious one but worth mentioning - use inclusive language as much as possible. Your donors are the people directly helping your benefactors; they are a part of your charity’s mission and want to be spoken to like they are. Here are some great examples of how inclusive language can help a donor feel different. 

Passive voice: Donations help us save lives.
Active & inclusive voice: Your donation helped save lives.

Passive voice: Our donors help patients receive high-quality end-of-life care.
Active & inclusive voice: Support from amazing people like you helps provide high-quality end-of-life care.