As former Director of Membership for a large nonprofit membership organization, here are a few ‘golden rules’ I learned for turning members into sponsors:

  • Have Membership Ambassadors Make New Members Feel Welcome: Many times I’ve thought about becoming more involved in a nonprofit organization, but there was no one assigned to greet me as a newcomer and make me feel welcome. Breaking the ice for prospective members and new members will be worth its weight in gold (literally) as doing so quickly engages these people in the organization so they’re more approachable as sponsors.
  • Check in With New Members: Every nonprofit knows it takes time to cultivate and engage new members and turn them into potential sponsors. Having a Membership Ambassador check in with new members to get their feedback within a couple of months of joining is a great way to learn what’s working and what’s not. Let members know how much you appreciate their feedback, and stay in touch–especially as you implement their suggestions. This will go a long way toward engaging them as members and cultivating them as future sponsors.
  • Make Profitable Connections for Members: If a nonprofit organization can broker profitable connections for their members during monthly events, they’ll develop more engaged members–and potential sponsors–throughout the life of the organization. Let members know that your nonprofit is proactive about helping them make meaningful connections. Assign Membership Committee volunteers to each event, and let members know before the event that the committee is available to help them connect with others in the organization.
  • Reach Out to Business Owner Members: Small business owners especially appreciate when nonprofits are proactive about helping them market and promote their businesses through the organization. Many nonprofit organizations take great care to develop member benefits; however, oftentimes they don’t do a good job making sure members take advantage of these perks. Business owners understand the value of strategically sponsoring organizations and are ripe for the asking–that is once they feel the organization they support understands what they’re trying to achieve through their membership, and helps them reach their promotional goals.
  • Show Sponsors Measurable Results: There’s nothing that makes a sponsor happier to be invested in a nonprofit than seeing the results of their contributions. Nonprofit organizations that capture data and communicate measurable results periodically throughout the year to members and sponsors have a much easier time of meeting their fundraising goals. Current sponsors are more likely to increase their donations, and prospective sponsors are likely to begin giving–if they feel their dollars are making a meaningful and measurable difference.

 

 

Oftentimes those who network think ‘the more the merrier’ when it comes to attending networking events. Unfortunately, that approach rarely works. What does work is being strategic about where and why you decide to attend a networking event. Answer these simple questions and turn regular networking into strategic networking.

1. Is the Event or Hosting Group Strategic for Your Organization? Thinking strategically about everything you do to successfully grow your organization, includes where you invest your time networking. Being strategic means you’re constantly asking yourself if anything about the event or hosting group is a strategic fit as a source of new revenue, important contacts, referral sources or information vital to growing your organization.

2. Are You A Member of the Organization? If you’re a member of the organization, you have more chance of attracting the attention of staffers and Board Members at the event. If the organization hosting the event is worth its salt, they’ll have a proactive Membership Committee and Board that’s eager to help you make meaningful connections, and engage you at a higher level of involvement and sponsorship.

3. Are You Active In The Organization? The best way to get traction from networking is to be very active in one or two organizations. Doing this, you’ll generate momentum, because more people will know you, know your work, and be eager to help you make profitable connections. Being actively involved can mean being a Board Member, joining a committee especially the Membership Committee–which is a great way to meet people and target those you want to meet. Active involvement can also mean making a commitment to attend the organizations’ events regularly, and supporting the organization financially.

4. Will Your Target Customers and Referral Sources Be There? If your target customers and referral sources probably won’t be attending the event, you might want to rethink if it’s worth your while.

With these simple guidelines, average networking becomes strategic networking–generating more profitable connections, qualified leads and new business for your organization!