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Where Should Your Membership Focus Be?

By Brandi McGrath Kong, Director of Member Services


Membership is an ongoing issue for many service organizations and nonprofits, and Sertoma clubs are no exception. We know that tackling membership can be an overwhelming task that leaves many leaders without a clear direction where to start; however, by looking at your club’s membership numbers a little closer, you can easily determine where your primary focus should be and then work from there. 

A strong membership program has three key components – recruitment, retention and engagement. You really need all three of these pieces to work well together in order for your club to succeed long term. Of course, no club can do everything all at once. Therefore, we must find a way to determine what membership development priority we should focus on first. So how do we do that?

Start by looking at your club’s retention rate. The retention rate is the percentage of members you keep over a given time period, often annually. We choose this number because it best illustrates how effective our membership program is at keeping members. After all, our retention strategy must be strong or our recruitment efforts are essentially wasted.

If your retention rate is low, your efforts should start with retention first. As you can gather, a low retention rate indicates that there are likely some issues at play within your club. Your club is less able to guarantee that any new members you recruit will stick around. 

However, on the other end of the spectrum, a higher retention rate means that you can be more confident that your new members will stay part of your club. This means that your club is better prepared to focus on recruitment. 

What Comes Next?: Check out this recent training, where I explore 10 strategies for membership recruitment and retention.