How Your Chapter May Be Pushing New Members Away

Attracting new members is hard. You spend a substantial amount of time making recruitment and marketing materials, preparing for events and following up with potential members. You’d think as soon as someone joins in as a new member, all the grueling work is over.

That may be true if your only goal is to hit a specific number of members. However, if you are more interested in active and involved members, your work isn’t over yet.

Many associations have the same onboarding experience for new members. Registering online triggers a barrage of emails. These communications may include a receipt for their payment, a welcome email from the national organization, instructions how to log in to the members-only portal, and the latest news from the local chapter. That’s four emails already.

Information overload leads to immediate overwhelm. “I’ll go over this when I have time” is the response new members might have. That time never comes and these members don’t feel connected with the organization.

The truth is, your onboarding process may in fact be pushing new members away.

So, then what is an association to do? We've identified 3 tips to optimize your member onboarding process:

1. Streamline the Information Distribution

Consider whether all the provided text/emails are absolutely necessary to new recruits. Logging in to a system probably is; but a link to a three-page document with the history of the organization probably isn’t.

Evaluate the technique with which all the information is distributed and the method it is accomplished. Rather than send all the emails at one time, why not set up an autoresponder series to present it over the next couple of weeks?

2. Provide Immediate Value

People join an association as it benefits their professional and personal development. Don’t waste time and take the focus away from telling new member all about the organization. Instead, emphasize how you can immediately help them.

Find out from current members what they have considered most valuable during their tenure and emphasize that aspect within the welcome process. Also, consider asking new members for valuable feedback. As new members, they will be able to shed much light on the reasons they joined the chapter and what benefits/information they’d like to receive the most.

3. Make Personal Contact

Don’t assume the emails are enough of a welcome. Reach out to new members via a phone call or personal meeting. Let them know how excited you are to have them as a part of your organization and ask if they have any questions or issues with all the information they have recently received.

Set up new members with a more seasoned member as a go-to contact. In addition to having someone to sit with at meetings and events, they will have a person to show them the ropes.

Growing membership can be a time and energy consuming endeavor. But just getting prospective members to join in isn’t enough for long term stability of the organization. Look at how you can better welcome new members through streamlining the information, providing immediate value and making personal contact. With these actions, you will have engaged members from the start.


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