During this past holiday season, I read a great book which sparked my contemplation and fueled my desire to write this article. Below I outline how software technology should be used to deliver ROI with your nonprofit website.
Keys to achieving ROI of Membership Websites
As mentioned, I had the pleasure of reading a good book over the holidays, "The ROI of Membership" by Ed Rigsbee, CAE, CSP. If you are not familiar with Ed, he is the Chief Member Evangelist at Rigsbee Research Consulting Group. He has authored 5 books and over 2,000 articles on business and organizational collaborations. I highly recommend the book. To be sure, Mr. Rigsbee's book made me think about how the software tools available today for membership organizations are helpful (or not) in helping their organizations with membership recruitment and retention.
By now you realize that having a website is crucial for connecting with your donors, members, and constituents. But, creating and maintaining a website that actually can influence the decision to join or renew is another matter entirely. Your website should communicate to non-members and members through real dollars that membership is smart career, business, and or financial decision.
One statistic cited from an American Society of Association Executives study reported in Mr. Rigsbee's book outlined the following:
Of Members who did not renew, 73% was due to lack of perceived membership value.
So, what are some ways for your organization to overcome this? In our opinion, technology can and should help customers join and stay. And, since many databases used by nonprofits and their website can be connected, it should be easier to do than ever before. That noted, here are a few important aspects to developing engaging and value driven nonprofit websites:
State the Return on Investment For Membership
Who is your website selling to? Organizations should state the ROI of membership. If you are using your website for both recruitment and retention, list the member-only features. Then, write a benefit statement as to how the feature will make the membership prospect’s life better. A Nonprofit's website likely more so than for profits should prove the ROI of Membership. Your website should communicate to non-members and members through real dollars that membership is smart career, business, and or financial decision.
Donor, Member, Customer Personalization
Today, members are empowered in the Buyer 2.0 role, and demand value and service. Your website should demonstrate that you know and understand your constituents' wants and needs. Create a personalized space for your constituents where they can access their information, keep track of any necessary data and history, and find meaningful content. This will keep them coming back to your website as a habit, and your organization will be at the top of donors' lists when it comes time to donate to a charity. Web technologies are not only for internal benefit. In fact, successful engagement through a web presence is all about making life for your constituents better. Whether you want to improve e-commerce or get closer to donors and members through online communities, engaging constituents with a personalized web experience is key, and it all starts with how your website is powered.
Member Self-Service Transactions
Your website should allow your donors and constituents to engage with your organization through personalized e-Commerce. Implementing self-service options for membership renewal, donations, and registration are important but they aren't necessarily new. What may be new to some is using an integrated database and website so that your members may socialize with others in the community while experiencing and transacting business on your website. Exclusive Information, training courses, conferences, & products etc. can all be used to sell the value and benefits of participation in your organization. Do it!
Create Online Private Communities
Your organization is competing with for profits and other nonprofits today for participation. This key takes the social aspect a step further by creating communities on your website for your constituents to turn to and interact with. Sure, your constituents can interact with each other through other forms of social media. But keeping them exclusively on your website keeps them engaged with your brand and organization. You can monitor the online communities to learn more about your constituents' habits and preferences as well as any concerns or recommendations they have for your organization. With an integrated website and database, every single day of the week you could warmly remind your members of the real dollar value they received because of their ongoing participation in your organizations website.
Members Are Mobile, Go Mobile!
There's just no getting around it. On-the-go constituents must have easy access to your site through their mobile devices if you want them to stay connected to your organization. You will need to take some time to determine whether you need a mobile app, mobile website, or both. From there, you can work toward developing a mobile version of your site that is relevant to your constituents' needs.
Search Engine Optimization for Association Sites
Pew Internet conducted a survey that found 92% of adults online use search engines to find information, and nearly 59% of them do it daily. What does this mean? Your Association is competing with Google! The discussion of return on investment of resources (time and money) is critical.
Nonprofits need to underscore how your work in knowledge management, how your organization stores, organizes, and makes industry specific information easily available to members, delivers a membership benefit. Your website should be used to provide content to help compete against "search engines" but the intellectual capital you provide shouldn't be given away either.
Your staff and your members need the right tools for the right job. Using a Membership Management System is for most the easiest way to create an engaging online experience for your donors, members, and constituents.
If you are searching for the right tools, we would like to help. Please Contact us for more information on which Membership Software may be best suited for your non-profit organization.