The success of most nonprofit organizations is dependent on reliable and consistent supporters. Donations may ebb and flow. Events may come and go. Volunteers may be temporary, but overall, the stronger and more reliable your members are, the better your organization will perform.

So what then is the key to maintaining a strong, consistent, and reliable membership? It’s member engagement. Simply put, nonprofits that know how to keep their members engaged and can do it year after year will be more successful.

Organizations should be able to track, collect, and decode data connected to their member engagement activities. This data can be critical in maintaining success in the present and in helping to mold a vibrant future for the organization.

What is Member Engagement Data?

Member engagement data goes far beyond basic member contact information or even membership level and donation tracking. It builds a portfolio about a member and how they respond to an organization and its events. Member engagement data can be retrieved from a variety of engagement activities and opportunities:

  • Event registration. How many, and what types of events did the member register for? What do the events have in common? Were the events in person, virtual, or hybrid?
  • Member website login activity. How and how often does a member access the website? What information were they seeking? Was the action prompted by an outreach, or was it unsolicited?
  • Email and social media engagement. Do they respond to emails? Do they connect to the organization through social media, and how often? Do they share through social media? How active are they on social media?
  • Membership referrals. Membership referrals are one of the most valuable results of member engagement that organizations seek. Have they referred members, and how often? What may have prompted the referral? What is the association between the referred person and the person making the referral?
  • Volunteer sign-ups. When have they volunteered? Do they tend to volunteer for particular types of events or tasks? Do they volunteer in particular seasons or specific events? A volunteer management platform can help you track this information and select the volunteers for the right positions.

Leveraging membership engagement activity data can help organize and increase retention. It also can help increase recruitment and make the most of the membership roster. There is a series of membership data, engagement data, event management, and digital media software products available that can facilitate collecting this information.

How to Collect Member Engagement Data

One of the most straightforward ways to engage members and collect data is through simple surveys. Surveys may be pre-event, post-event, annual, or even included along with the membership renewal form. Simple one-question surveys may be an ongoing part of your member website, included in newsletters that are mailed as part of a more thorough campaign.

Example survey questions could include:

  • What were your reasons for joining our nonprofit membership program?
  • Would you recommend our nonprofit to another friend or family member? Why or why not?
  • In what ways do you prefer to get involved?
  • What type of events do you enjoy participating in?
  • Are there events we don’t schedule that we should consider?
  • How likely are you to renew your membership?
  • What are your preferred modes of contact with our organization (social media, email, text, telephone, etc.)?
  • Would you be interested in serving on the board or an event committee?

Nonprofits should prioritize questions based on current and relevant goals. Members appreciate it when their thoughts and opinions are requested and listened to. Making survey results available can help in making that connection.

4 Ways to Boost Member Engagement

Of course, the best way to boost member engagement data is to first improve the quality of member benefits and the ways they are engaged. Here are four ways to accomplish this:

1. Create a high-quality onboarding experience.

First impressions matter, and that includes how you welcome new members. It can start with an automated welcoming email or, even better, a personalized note from a board member or director. Make them aware of the important role the organization plays in the community, and let them know how they can increase their participation. Consider welcome gifts if the budget permits. Welcome gifts can be as small as a window decal or as significant as a golf shirt.

2. Personalize member communications.

Membership software allows nonprofits to connect with members in more custom and personalized ways. Not only can software detail each member’s interaction, but it can ensure communications occur using the member’s preferred method of contact. The software will track what they are likely to respond to and ensure they don’t get lost.

The more you know about members the better, and nonprofit membership software is a key component in maintaining quality contact. More personalized content in communications can take your engagement to the next level.

3. Cultivate a sense of community.

Pulling together for a common cause builds connectivity and community. Communication is key in keeping members up-to-date on what is happening with the organization and the individuals involved. Share news about new members and the exceptional impact of current ones.

Few nonprofit organizations operate in a vacuum. They are more impactful when they are part of a community and members are aware of the importance of that role.

4. Provide various opportunities for involvement.

Of course, each member of an organization is different and possesses differing skills, talents, and even financial status. You can better engage members by making sure there are enough opportunities in a variety of ways to participate.

Some may prefer to help through financial support. Others may have more time than money. Identifying these preferences can be vital in allowing each member to play a role they are not only best suited for, but will enjoy. Member management software can help identify member resources, tendencies, and willingness to participate in your opportunities. The more you know about each member, the better involvement recommendations you can provide them.

Keep in mind that even an individual who is no longer an active member can have value and potentially rejoin. Often, members who depart an organization can offer powerful insights for improvement.

Nonprofit membership data, event engagement data, and connections through social media and digital communications all provide valuable information that you can utilize to strengthen your organization. Now is the time to take your organization to the next level using the data at your disposal. Your nonprofit, board, volunteers, members, and other supporters will notice the difference.