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Re:A General Question about Membership of Nonprofits

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  • Rachael Brooke Winkley
    Hello Jenny,   I think creating a membership is a smart idea and many groups are doing it as a way to create revenue.  I ll give you a few of my thoughts and
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 30, 2009
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      Hello Jenny,
       
      I think creating a membership is a smart idea and many groups are doing it as a way to create revenue.  I'll give you a few of my thoughts and some links to where you can hopefully find information on membership.
       
      - Create a committee to do the research:  if you haven't already, ask your board to create a committee (including a staff member) to do the analysis, crunch the numbers and make a report at a future board meeting.
       
      - Share the work: create a board member position to chair membership and/or volunteers and have a paid staff member do the admin work.  The board member would be the one actively recruiting members and volunteers while the staff person is doing the data entry, keeping track of memberships, making sure membership packets or renewals are sent, etc.
       
      - Analysis is key to making a decision: what will the initial cost be to your organization? do you have software in place where you can start tracking membership?  There may be initial costs (software and training), but what will it really add to your budget and workload over the year as a whole?  You will also need to determine membership costs and set membership goals based on what income the group needs to generate.
       
      - Keep It Simple: you will need to offer an incentive for membership, but if you're not MAM, don't worry about giving them wine, food and live music each month :) If you are offering arts education then the obvious benefit of membership is a tuition and ticket discount (if you sell tickets for performances).  You will need to come up with low cost perks for your members like a newsletter (email is cheapest) and some kind of "behind the scenes" events you can offer them - not individual "tours of the studio", but a "members only" tour is good.  Another benefit of membership could be access to studio space (workshops, parties) when it's not in use.  Offer it at reasonable fee to be a benefit of membership, but at a rate that covers your costs and generates income.
       
      Here are some links:

      MadCap School of the Arts (my daughter is in an ensemble group and they have just created a membership for their school - check out the "MadCap Members" link)
      http://www.madcap.org/
       
      I don't know if these groups have information on their sites regarding membership development, but there may be links to such information and/or publications on it.
      http://www.artswisconsin.org/index.cfm
      http://artsboard.wisconsin.gov/static/default.htm
      http://www.nasaa-arts.org/
      http://www.handsonnetwork.org/volunteerresource
       
      Best of luck,
      Rachael
       
      rachael brooke designs - art jewelry
      http://www.rachaelbrooke.com
       




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