Skip to main content
Membership Software

Guide to Running a Successful Membership Committee

Andrea Amorosi March 14, 2024
Table of Contents
8 min read

If you are looking to recharge, re-energize, and power up your membership-based organization, one of the best places to start is focusing on and revitalizing your membership committee. If your organization uses membership as a key funding source, every attempt to improve your membership committee and streamline its efforts will pay dividends.

In this guide to running a successful membership committee, we will elaborate on critical elements, including why the chairperson is so important. We will address measuring progress and success, look at the dangers of apathy in an organization, and detail the path to re-organizing your membership committee.

What Is a Membership Committee Guide?

A membership committee guide serves as a roadmap for your membership committee for carrying out their duties. Rather than mapping every inch of the journey, however, it points out important benchmarks along the way. How exactly those benchmarks are reached is up to the committee members.

A membership committee guide will frequently contain the organization’s mission and acceptable parameters for how membership activities are conducted.

7 Key Points to Running Your Membership Committees

You can take comfort knowing that when creating a guide for your membership committee, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Your efforts will more likely be spent finishing and polishing the details to best suit your specific organization.

You will be well on your way when you start with these 7 key points:

1. Detail Your Membership Cycle

There are several benefits to detailing a membership cycle for your committee members. They will enter your organization knowing their commitment is not open-ended or eternal.

Quality members are more likely to serve for a designated period or cycle. Memberships should cycle every two years or so to keep a fresh point of view on your committee while maintaining valuable experience.

Some members may prefer to serve alongside other members that they have something in common with. Allowing them the option to serve similar or simultaneous terms may help in recruiting.

Membership cycles allow for a predetermined turnover, so members can serve their time and move forward. There are benefits to both the members and the organization itself when there is a well-conceived membership cycle in place.

Consider reaching out to other membership-based organizations to see what type and length of membership cycles seem to work best for them.

2. Getting Involved

A truly successful membership committee will be involved in far more than just their own committee members and recruitment. The more a membership committee member is involved, the more likely they are able to accurately share a representation of what your organization may have to offer.

It can be valuable for a membership committee to be involved in fundraising and recognition events. They can serve in outreach as speakers at area service clubs. They should be involved in the community.

It is also important for committee members to keep membership personnel engaged and involved. This can include showcasing and inviting the general membership to participate in the organization’s programs.

Ideally, you would like to have membership committee members as some of the most active and involved in your organization. This is why recruiting individuals for these important positions is so crucial.

3. Clarify Your Committee’s Member Role

Because the role of a membership committee member can be so encompassing, their duties may seem to be boundless. This is why it is important to clarify the membership committee responsibilities.

Common guidelines often include identifying and explaining membership benefits, creating solutions to better support members, identifying new members, and more. It is important to clarify the role of the membership committee as to those actions that support the overall mission of the organization and activities that are in harmony with that mission.

Ideally, you would like membership committee members who will elevate your recruiting efforts in quality and quantity. It is also important that they understand and embrace their role in the organization.

4. Set a Transparent Communication Guideline

Transparency in communications is a priority in most organizations today, including membership-based organizations. It is important that the membership committee members are on, and stay on, the same page. This is why clearly stated communication guidelines are important.

Communication guidelines should include all digital messaging, including email, text, and particularly social media. Guidelines should include the use of photographs on public social media pages and what information about the members is publicly accessible online. Some organizations are finding it valuable to create a privacy policy and rules governing the use of social media.

The more your organization can elaborate and detail its communication policies, the less likely miscommunications will occur. It may also result in improved messaging with increased clarity.

5. Decide Who Chairs The Committee

One of the most significant decisions your organization can make is choosing a chairperson of your membership committee. This is the person who will lead and shape the size and quality of your membership. They will lay the foundation for your organization and its member support network now and into the future.

Who makes a good candidate to lead your membership committee? Visible, well-liked members of your community who have a personal connection with your mission can be key qualities. Leadership abilities can also be a plus.

Membership committee chairpersons may come from within your organization, or they may be recruited from the outside. What is critical is that they understand and embrace the goals of your organization and are looking to play a role that goes beyond adding to their resume.

This is a unique role for a person who is motivated and has special talents. An excellent committee membership chairperson can be challenging to find but is well worth the effort. In many ways, they are your top-star quality sales leader. 

It is preferable that your membership committee chairperson have an attitude and energy level that coincides with the direction sought by the board of directors. The right chairperson can steady even a wayward ship.

6. Have Staff Support Who Act as Liaisons

It is daunting to ask a chairperson to take the lead role of a membership committee and saddle them with all the details, legwork, and paperwork involved in the job. This is why you should make as many organizational resources as possible available to help them in achieving their goals.

This may include office space, access to business machines, staff, and volunteers. A membership chair should also be reimbursed for any out-of-pocket expenses they may incour while in the performance of their duties.

Tasks like making phone calls, sending emails and letters, and more can all be facilitated by staff and volunteers.

Your membership chairperson is likely already providing invaluable energy, expertise, and experience. They should be supported as much as possible through the assets of an organization.

7. Keep Members Informed About The Resources

One of the foundations of a successful membership committee is ensuring all members are kept informed of current and expanding benefits and features. This can take diligent and ongoing communication.

Your roster of benefits should always be front and center, including discounts, educational opportunities, networking events, fundraisers, and more. Along with the features and benefits of membership, volunteer opportunities should also be given plenty of exposure.

Engaging members through fresh and exciting ideas can be an important ingredient in the success of your membership committee. The membership committee can also identify underused and perhaps underappreciated features and benefits of the organization. They can take a role in promoting and shining light on some of these underused resources.

Elevate The Role of Membership Committee Members-only

One way to improve your recruitment efforts for your membership committee is to elevate their role. Perhaps membership board members can be nominated, recruited, and personally invited to take part. It should be explained to them the pivotal role they will play. They should understand the importance and impact the organization has on the community or industry.

It, perhaps, is a subtle approach, but membership committee members should be aware that they are being chosen and invited to play a part in your organization. They are not simply being asked to volunteer.

Click through to learn about MemberClicks’ membership management software tools, MC Trade and MC Professional.

Remember Your Guide is a Living Document

While there are certain elements that membership guides may have in common, what helps make them successful is when they are customized. Guidelines should be pertinent to the organization and the current environment. It is also important to recognize that the most valuable guides serve as living, breathing documents.

Circumstances change, and opportunities may present themselves. New technology may be introduced or an advancement made. Your guide is not intended to handcuff you or limit your opportunities. It can, however, serve as an initial filter to see if an idea or concept is in concert with your goals and mission.

Do not hesitate to have you and your board review the elements of your particular guide and make timely suggestions. This will keep your guide fresh and vibrant. Review your membership guide to sharpen its effectiveness.

Measuring the Success of Your Membership Committee

A common principle in business and in any organization, for that matter, is that measurement improves performance. This is true for membership-based organizations as well.

A starting point is your organization’s membership history. Unless yours is a relatively young organization, it likely has a history that you can look back upon. This can be extremely useful in helping you measure the success and progress of your membership committee’s efforts. 

Some metrics that can be valuable to focus on include: 

  • Raw Membership Data

It doesn’t get any more basic than this. These are simply your total membership numbers, regardless of contribution level.

  • Levels of Membership

Most membership-based organizations will offer various levels of membership. For example, entry, sponsorship, and elite tiers. Focus on levels that could use improvement.

  • Average Length of Memberships

A growing number of short-term memberships is indicative of some form of dissatisfaction. You may need to focus on retention efforts.

  • Using Surveys

Make use of surveys to measure performance and to discover why some members may be departing your organization.

  • Member Involvement

Member involvement can include everyting from communications to volunteer service and support for fundraisers. Track how active your membership is.

Every organization is impacted by outside forces beyond their control. It is their ability to take advantage of what they can control that is so vital.

You can use past performances to set new goals. You can measure current performance to see how you are doing.

Measurements to improve performance are a valuable tool in many areas of an organization. It is a superb way to gauge the impact of your membership endeavors.

Utilize Feedback

Sometimes, organizations can become so self-centric that they fail to reach out for what can be valuable feedback from those orbiting or within the organization.

These entities, which can include individuals and other organizations, may be able to offer valuable insights and perspectives on the organization.

Seeking out this input through conversations, social media, and even surveys can be invaluable in improving membership recruitment efforts. Simply put, don’t be afraid to ask others their opinions about your organization. This may give them a vested interest in helping with the success of your organization.

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for a start in rejuvenating your membership-based organization, your membership committee is a prime place to start. Given the right tools, appropriate reachable goals, a robust membership management software program, and an energetic committee, your organization can reach new levels.

The next steps are up to you!

Free Member Retention Guide

Ready to retain members and keep them coming back forever and ever? This guide will teach you everything you need to know about member retention. We cover all the basics, like the first steps to member retention and how to map out your member journey. From there, we dive a bit deeper into retention tips.