Having an interested prospect fill out a member application on your organization’s website is exciting. More desire for what your organization offers! One step closer to next-level growth! 

But it’s more than just exciting; it’s also a great opportunity for your organization to gather information that can directly impact the member-to-be’s level of engagement and desire to renew. Not only that, but the information you gather can also help with your organization’s recruitment efforts. 

The trick, though, is ensuring you’re asking the right questions. 

To get even more value from your member application submissions, consider adding in these four questions:

1. How did you hear about [Organization’s Name]?

This question serves the purpose of enhancing your organization’s recruitment efforts. It’ll help you get better insight into where interested parties are coming from, and better yet, how you can find more of them. 

For example, did a soon-to-be member (or new member, depending on how your application process works) hear about your organization from a coworker, who’s also a member of your association or chamber? If so, it may be worth revisiting your member referral program (or creating one if one currently doesn’t exist). Clearly referrals are effective, so the more you can do to encourage your members to help spread the word, the better.

2. What are you hoping to get out of your membership with [Organization’s Name]?

Few organizations ask this question outright, but it’s a fair question that can really help with how well you’re able to engage your new members. If a new member says they’re hoping to build their professional network and stay on top of the latest industry trends, then your communications with that member should be in line with that. (This is where email segmentation really comes into play. With something like a membership management system, you could pull a list of all the people who said they’re most interested in networking and send them an extra email regarding your upcoming virtual event and/or an email reminding them about your organization’s online social community.) 

The more you’re able to deliver on what your members are hoping to receive, the more satisfied they’ll be with their membership and the more likely they’ll be to renew.

3. Are you interested in serving on a committee? If yes, please specify which committee(s) below. 

When a soon-to-be member is filling out an application, they’re likely also simultaneously paying membership dues…and they’re ready to get their money’s worth. 

Help them get involved from the get-go by asking if they have any interest serving on a committee. List all of your committees with checkboxes next to them. Even if committee members have already been chosen for the current term, consider either expanding the size of your committees (can you ever really have too many volunteers?) OR creating task forces to support those committees. 

Note: If finding committee volunteers isn’t really an issue at your organization, but finding other types of volunteers is, consider rephrasing this question to match the volunteer spots you’re consistently trying to fill.

4. How many years have you been working in the XYZ industry?

Many organizations don’t ask this question in particular. Instead, they ask (and rely upon) age. Now, there’s nothing wrong with asking age, but if you’re intending to use that as a basis for where someone might be in their career…be careful. It’s quite possible that someone who’s 40+ is just now transitioning into your particular industry. 

The benefits you extend to your members — or rather, how much your market certain benefits to certain members of your organization — should align with your members’ career stage. If someone is new to your industry, you may not want to push senior-level training opportunities their way. Instead, you may want to send more networking opportunities their way, so they can start to get to know other people in the industry. 

To effectively serve your members, you have to meet them where they are. And to find out where they are, you often just need to ask. 

Ok, so the soon-to-be member fills out the application. It’s processed (along with their dues payment), and they’re in! Now what?

Well, it’s time to start onboarding! To effectively onboard your newest members, check out our free guide below. In it, you’ll find all the must-dos for getting your new members up to speed and engaged…quickly! 

Note: This post was originally published on 2/27/19, but updated on 8/19/20 for added value.