Don’t get us wrong, you should pay attention to ALL of your members. They’re all valuable and all have something to contribute to your organization.
That said, there are two types of members you should pay extra close attention to. Take a look:
1. New members
New members should be like little dots on your radar. You should know where they are and what they’re up to (as it relates to your association, of course). See, like new employees, new members decide whether or not they’re going to stick with something within the first six months. That means you have six solid months (sometimes even less) to really make a good impression on your new members and convince them that your association is worth getting involved in and sticking with.
But how do you do that? Well it’s all about engaging them early - and often. Put them in touch with a mentor if you can - someone who can guide them towards committees, volunteer opportunities, specific benefits that align with their needs, and other new members. The more friends this person is able to make early on, the more likely they are to stay a year or so down the road.
One more tip: When it comes to meetings and events, keep a close eye on your new members. There’s nothing worse than being in a room full of people and not having anyone to talk to. And if that does happen to one of your new members, they’re likely to never show up again. (Can you blame them?!) To prevent that from happening, consider having some kind of system in place (different color lanyards, stickers on name tags, etc.) to easily identify your new members. That way, if you do see someone standing alone, you can quickly intervene/help facilitate interactions.
For more tips on engaging your new members and encouraging them to stay, check out our guide, 6 Tips for Successfully Onboarding New Members.
2. Graced members
Graced members are members who have passed their member expiration date, but haven’t necessarily lapsed. They can still log into their member profile and access members-only content, should they so choose.
Now some organizations have grace periods and some don’t. But the benefit of having them is that you have more time to re-engage those people and encourage them to renew. (And it’s much easier to get someone to renew than it is to rejoin.)
That said, if you do have a grace period, you’ll want to keep a close eye on your graced members. They’re on the verge of leaving, after all, so you’ll want to do everything you can to encourage them to renew. Send them several reminder emails, re-emphasizing the benefits of being involved in your association. And make sure those emails are timely and don’t slip through the cracks. The most common grace period for associations is two to three months, so you’ll want to space your emails out accordingly.
For more tips regarding grace periods and membership renewals, check out our free guide, Best Practices for Membership Renewals!