Sweating through his pale-yellow shirt, Todd reluctantly shuffles his way into the meeting room. He lo-o-o-a-a-thes this time of year. Dreads it. Would like to be doing anything but reminding members to pay.
Caty is late with her dues … again. Not a peep from Mark since the renewal period began. Amy said she’d bring her payment to tonight’s meeting — but she also said that 3 meetings ago.
No doubt collecting dues is about as much fun as getting a tooth pulled. The good news? There are ways to make the renewal process much more effective and efficient — and way less painful.
Having worked with so many professional and trade associations for nearly 20 years, we’ve seen many renewal campaigns. Some highly-effective. Others not so much.
One thing is certain: those that do work share common elements — and those tactics can be easily replicated.
Tip #1: Review past renewal performance
Take a look at your last renewal period. Run a list of members that were up for renewal, then note when members renewed.
Did most members renew after your first email notice was sent? After an announcement was made during a group meeting? After the second email notice, or the last?
Make adjustments to your communication plan based on what you find. For example, if most members renew after the last notice goes out, and you would like more upfront renewals, make improvements. Consider adding incentives and highlighting benefits in your other notices and communication channels.
Tip #2: Clear up ALL roadblocks
Be sure to look at the data in its entirety. Think back to the last campaign.
Why was Caty late with her payment, as she is every renewal period? Maybe Caty doesn’t check her email regularly. Maybe sending reminders through another channel, like text messaging, would be better for her.
Why did Amy keep forgetting to bring her payment to the meetings? Perhaps offering different ways to pay online would be more convenient for her versus remembering to bring in cash or a check.
All circumstances and scenarios should be factored into how you design your renewal campaign going forward.
Tip #3: Review payment methods
While there are organizations that accept check and cash, utilizing online methods to take payment should be used, or at the very least, considered.
Not only is taking payments online quicker and less work for your association or organization’s treasurer, it’s much more convenient for members.
Many of the associations we work with utilize the 123Signup online membership applications for taking credit card payments for renewals. These webpages can be styled to match your organization’s brand and integrated with your website for a seamless member experience.
Once you have the renewal webpage set up, you can include the link in your email reminders. Having an online payment method for your renewals gives members an easy way to renew and pay online whenever is most convenient for them.
Tip #4: Consider an incentive for renewals
To expedite renewals, consider adding an incentive such as a discount.
Through 123Signup, you can create membership promotion codes with a fixed discount (a flat amount) or a percentage discount to be applied to the total. You can also control the total number of times a code can be used, which member types are eligible to use the code, and you can limit the dates the code can be used.
Tip #5: Develop a communication plan and stick to it
Don’t let this overwhelm you. A communication plan is simply a plan in writing of what communications you’ll send and when. It’s proven that the more the information about a renewal dues period is communicated — whether in person or online — the smoother and quicker the process.
Tip #6: Include the option to renew membership while signing up for an event
123Signup’s integrated registration and renewals functionality allows you to include a membership renewal option on your event signup forms — making it simple for members to register for an event, and at the same time, pay their dues.
Tip #7: Set up automated email renewal reminders
While you never want to annoy your members, it’s a fact that many simply forget to renew, or need an extra nudge beyond the meeting announcement, making it worth sending a series of email reminders.
Most associations we work with send 3-4 renewal reminders.
If you don’t have a good association management software that automates this task for you, it’s a good reason to investigate low-cost technology options that will enable you to set up a series without further work or intervention.
Through 123Signup Association Management software, you can set up a series of emails with specific messages to be sent at specific time periods of your choosing.
You can create as many templates as you’d like and further customize your messaging by creating templates for each member type. For example, your message to your student members may differ from your message to regular members.
We’ve found that organizations that combine in-person announcements with automated email renewal reminders to expiring members run the most effective membership renewal campaigns.
It’s coming. A great big bear hug from your treasurer. (Fill in your treasurer’s name here) is much happier these days since improving the renewal dues collection process.
Whether you use one or all 7 of these tips, you’re bound to improve your renewal dues collection process — and make your treasurer, and members’ lives, a bit brighter.