Boost Membership with a Member-Get-a-Member Association Chapter Referral Program

Updated: Feb. 5, 2021  |  Categories: Decreasing Membership  

Boost Membership with a Member-Get-a-Member Association Chapter Referral Program

It’s basic Sales 101:  warm handoffs are more effective than cold ones. People are more likely to do what they’re being asked – sign up, make a purchase, make a call – when they’re asked by someone they know. Think about how you market your chapter to potential association chapter members. How successful are you at growing your membership when you connect with people who only know your chapter by name versus when you ask existing members to make the connection? When members share their experiences and talk about what the chapter means to them, others feel their excitement and emotion and want to be a part of it.

How can you get members more interested and involved in helping with your chapter membership strategy, especially when they’re as busy as we all are today? Helping your chapter expand its membership may not be anywhere near the top of their To Do list.

Everyone likes a bit of competition

What’s better motivation than a friendly contest between members, especially if there’s a reward? Follow these few steps for your next member-get-a-member contest.

  1. Choose the right time for the contest. For your members, it might be during the summer when members aren’t actively involved in multiple chapter activities, or right after the first of the year when things are quieter at work.
  2. Announce the competition in the weeks leading up to the start, to give people time to prepare. Talk about it in meetings, send it out in emails and mention it in your newsletter. Give the timeframe and the structure and don’t forget to list the prize(s). In these communications, remind them why they joined, and give them ideas for places to search for new members, such as their office, other organizations they belong to or even in their neighborhood.
  3. Track the responses, so there’s no question about the source of new members. Consider updating the contest results as it progresses and making those results public, so members can see where they stand against other members.
  4. Thank everyone publicly at the end of the contest. Post the names of the new members, along with the members that brought them in, in your chapter newsletter, or mention them in the first meeting they attend together. And be sure to remind all of your members what the winners got for their participation, to pique interest and increase member participation with the next contest.

What kind of prizes are best for a member-get-a-member competition?

There are countless options for membership incentive ideas for the winners. You could give a prize to the person who recruits the most members, or you could hold a raffle at the end, where members get one entry for each person they recruit. Gifts can be the same, regardless of the type of competition.

How about a $500 gift card, a ticket to your annual conference, a year of chapter membership or something else your members will find valuable? Other ideas include free admission to a meeting for each new member the current member refers; credit for a continuing education course; or chapter swag for members who bring guests to meetings and give potential members an in-person (or virtual) view of all you do.

Provide the necessary tools

Give members the tools to make their recruiting jobs as easy as possible. This includes talking points, for things like chapter benefits or an upcoming event; graphics to use on social media; and email templates to send out longer communications.

The easier you make it, and the more enticing the rewards, the more likely members are to jump into and look for new members. (By the way, we’re big believers in the warm handoff and have our own referral program.)


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