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Membership Application Forms: Tips, Tricks and Templates

MemberClicks Avatar MemberClicks April 2, 2023
Table of Contents
6 min read

First impressions can last a lifetime. That’s why you’ve taken great care to ensure your association website will win over future members. Membership forms, especially application forms, are much more important in these first impressions than you realize. It's the first glimpse they have as to what joining your association can mean for them.

Are your membership forms doing all they need to? Well, this guide will help you build the BEST one possible.

What are membership forms used for?

Member association forms are one of the first contact points for new members with your association. They serve a few purposes:

  1. They let new potential members request to join your organization
  2. You can specify what information you want to know about potential members
  3. First point of data collection of members for your membership database
  4. It streamlines how people can join your organization
  5. Forms set clear expectations on the process of joining your organizations

If this first form is simple, easy to fill out and understand, it becomes the kickoff point for a long, beautiful and lasting relationship between your organization and your members.

Examples of quality membership forms

The best membership forms strike the perfect balance between ease for your end user and the correct information for your association’s use. You want to make sure it's easy to find and fill out while also answering all the questions you need on your end.

Here's 5 examples of ones we love.

1. Nevada Restaurant Association - Comprehensive Contact Information

Nevada restaurant association membership form

For the perfect membership form, it’s best to start with the basics:

  • Gather as much contact information as possible without going overboard
  • Make sure to collect your new member’s name, phone number, email and address
  • Don’t forget to ask how your new member would like to be contacted so you can reach out in the best way possible
  • Make sure the form is accessible on your website—the fewer the clicks to complete, the better chance that your end user will follow through with completing the form
American grassfed Association Logo

2. American Grassfed - Cover More than the Basics

American Grassfed’s form is easy to submit on their website, and they go beyond basic information.

This organization uses open text fields for personalized messages, more information about the farm, and any other certifications.

Open field member application form section

Adding an open text field gives your prospective members the chance to provide you with more detailed information which helps you understand your members more.

3. ArchPro Coding Rural & Community Health - Understand Why Your Member is Interested

One great way to track success is a field that lets new members tell you how they learned about you. This optional drop-down field for your association membership form lets you measure your marketing tactics—and amplify the ones that worked!

Drop down menu option for the ArchPro coding Rural and Community Health association

4. Ohio Arts Professionals Network - Give Membership Options

Screenshot of the membership form for OAPN

The Ohio Arts Professionals Network includes each membership tier as well as the associated pricing right on their form. You can also take it a step further and explain all of the membership benefits and perks that come with each level. It never hurts to remind your members of all the exciting reasons to join!

5. American Alliance for Theatre and Education - Give Your Members Options

AATE membership form screenshot from their website

While we live in the age of technology, some still prefer to do things the old fashioned way especially if they’re paying for their membership with a check. That’s why the American Alliance for Theatre and Education offers both a convenient online form and an option to mail in the application

If your association does offer online and paper membership forms, make sure to house them all in one place so they can choose what’s best for their membership.

Remember: just because your member might decide to mail in their form doesn’t mean you shouldn’t digitize their data! Add it to your association management software ASAP so your member data stays up to date.

Membership form builders

There are a LOT of ways to build your member application forms and collect them from potential members.

An effective membership form is built with a solid foundation of tools in your toolbox. A solid association management software (AMS) will have a membership form building built right in that looks beautiful on your website and connects seamlessly to your membership database for synchronized data collection.

You can find more details about our form builder here and you can learn about our pricing here.)

Benefits of a built-in AMS membership form

Some benefits of using membership management software with a build in membership application form builder is:

  • Data collects in one place
  • You can stop using excel sheets to track member data
  • Data connects to member profiles and updates automatically over time
  • No more manually inputting member information
  • Secure data bank that all staff have access to
  • Connects to reports so you can track membership trends, export data and report to your board

Membership application form templates

Whether you're building your member application form in your AMS or as a downloadable / mailable sheet, this template will help you build your form.

NOTE: While this template can get you started, it's important to create your membership form specifically for the needs of your organization. Chambers, professional and trade associations may all require different member details and data. While you don't want to make it too long, make sure you ask all the questions you need.

What data should you collect?

The data you collect should fill in all the blanks you need to contact your new member, understand who they are and kick off the relationship building. There is basic information you should collect, secondary information that is more a "nice to know" and then bonus questions you can ask for some extra detailed info.

Basic Questions

For simple membership forms, stick with the basics. This includes contact details and basic personal information as well as payment info.

The data or information that you 100% should collect at this stage is:

  • Member name
  • Pronouns
  • Birthday
  • Email
  • Phone number
  • Address
  • What membership type they're intersted in (if you have membership levels)
  • Payment information
  • Check box that you can email them promotional / communications information

Secondary Information

There are some non-critical questions and details you can ask for in your membership form. These questions may extend your registration form but it can provide some extra details that can come in handy.

These questions include:

What are your interests?

This question can be a multi-select and include sub-options like Networking events, webinars, lunch and learns, trade shows, professional development, learning opportunities, volunteering or mentorship programs. This question will help you segment out your email lists so you can share the best info to interested members.

Social media handle

If your organization is active on social media and likes to tag / engage their members, asking for social handles is a great bonus.

Referral information

If you have a referral program in place for your members, include a spot for new members to note who referred them.

Bonus questions

At this stage, you can also ask 1 - 2 "bonus" questions. Bonus questions could be:

  • How did you hear about our organization?
  • What are you hoping to gain from joining?
  • Any questions you'd like to be contacted about?
  • Are you a member in any other organizations? If so, what ones?

The purpose of these questions is to get a little more anecdotal information on what people think about your organization, how they found you and why they're joining. It can be hard to get this information later on but asking on a membership form almost guarantees people will fill it out; They want to make a good first impression.

Membership form template: Downloadable

If you do want to offer a printable and mailable member application form, this template can be downloaded, filled and mailed in.

Downloadable member application form template

Get those forms filled!

Now that you have the tools you need to succeed, get out there and build your membership form. It should be easy to use and brief to fill out for your members, yet detailed enough that you get what you need. When in doubt, take a page from the book of the association and membership organizations listed above. Plus, you now have a trusty free template to guide your membership application form development. 

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