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.