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									Membership Management Toolkit
Table of Contents

Overview                                                                                 3
Importance of membership                                                                 3
Benefits of membership                                                                   4
        Chapter membership                                                               4
        National ASTD membership                                                         4
        Joint membership (―Power of 2‖)                                                  4
Member recruitment and retention overview                                                6
        Role of chapter leadership                                                       6
        Membership committee                                                             6
Member recruitment                                                                       7
        Step 1: Assessment                                                               7
                Chapter membership assessment template                                   8
        Step 2: Set goals                                                                9
                Membership goal-setting worksheet                                        10
        Step 3: Develop a plan                                                           11
        Step 4: Find and target good prospects                                           13
        Step 5: Communicating with prospects*                                            15

Member retention                                                                         19
     Step 1: Get the membership off to a good start*                                     19
     Step 2: Find ways to get members involved and keep them engaged*                    20
     Step 3: Seek member feedback regularly*                                             21
     Step 4: Member recognition*                                                         21
     Step 5: Personalizing the dues renewal process                                      23

* features Sharing Our Success (SOS) best practice samples from ASTD chapters

Links to resources                                                                       24
Appendix A: Vice president of membership- Sample job description                         25
Appendix B: Sample communications to members                                             27


A special thank you to the following chapters whose best practices and samples are featured in this
Central Indiana                                       Research Triangle
Chicagoland                                           South Carolina Midlands
DC Metro                                              South Central Wisconsin
San Diego                                             Twin Cities
Eastern Pennsylvania                                  Valley of the Sun
Greater Birmingham                                    Vermont
Greater Philadelphia


Members are the reason your chapter exists. They influence the programs, services, and
benefits you offer. Chapters are challenged with retaining and involving members, as well as
attracting new members. A thriving membership doesn’t just happen; it requires good planning
and year-round attention. This toolkit provides tools and information to support chapters in these

Importance of membership to chapters

Chapters need a steady influx of members to help accomplish their goals. Membership efforts
also have a dramatic impact on the financial status of the chapter. Even if the majority of a
chapter’s income is not coming from membership dues, the majority of revenue generated by
non-dues sources, such as educational programs, comes from members (who generally make
up the largest number of participants in these programs).

When the membership function is working in a chapter, there will be a growing number of new
members and a steady or rising number of renewing members each year.

Without a steady stream of new members, the chapter inevitably faces the problem of volunteer
burnout. It is the new members joining this year who will become the leaders in the chapter in
the years to come.

 Active, involved members provide:
          A larger, unified voice for local and national workplace learning and performance
           (WLP) professionals
Active,involved members provide:
           Better networking and support
        Broader base of volunteers and leaders to support chapter and national efforts
      A larger, unified voice for local and national WLPs

Benefits of membership

Chapter membership

ASTD has more than 130 chapters that provide local networking and professional development
opportunities for training, human resources, and performance improvement professionals.
These chapters offer a multitude of leadership and volunteer opportunities including:

      educational programs targeted to the local market
      networking with local thought leaders
      career advancement opportunities
      special interest groups to address local issues

For more information about chapter membership, go to

National ASTD membership

ASTD is the leading association for workplace learning professionals. ASTD members receive
exclusive access to information, research, networking, product and conference discounts, and
much more including:

      publications such as T+D magazine, ASTD Links, and more
      news such as The Buzz and execuBooks emails, summarizing contemporary literature
       from thousands of sources
      research such as Trainlit and the State of the Industry Report, providing easily
       accessible information and benchmarking metrics
      networking including ASTD Connect allowing you to virtually link with members

For a complete list of national ASTD member benefits, go to

Chapter and national membership (joint membership)

Joint membership offers WLP professionals a unique opportunity to connect with local, national,
and international professionals. Joint members can learn about trends in the field, and gain
access to research, principles, practices, and templates they can apply directly to impacting
organizational results, their community, and advancing their career.

Chapters with more national members have a stronger leadership pool. In addition, joint
members tend to be more engaged in the chapter.

Joint membership CORE requirement
The Chapter Operating Requirements (CORE) requirement for joint membership is 30 percent
in 2008. Each year, this requirement increases by 5 percent until it reaches 50 percent in
“Power of 2” joint membership campaign

"Power of 2" is a campaign to promote joint national and chapter membership. ASTD is working
with chapters to promote joint membership in the following ways:

How ASTD is promoting joint membership

       $5 ASTD Bookstore discount at the International Conference & Exposition for attendees
         joining chapters onsite
       offering a discounted $169 national membership for chapter members
       promoting joint membership through ads in T+D Magazine
       including chapter information in national member welcome kits
       developing ―Power of 2‖ joint membership campaign templates and materials
       providing a national member roster for your state (request from your chapter coach)
       calculating the joint membership percentage for chapters
       offering chapters the opportunity to earn additional revenue through the Chapter
         Incentive Program (ChIP), through which chapters earn $20 for each new national
         member and $10 for a membership renewal
       featuring the ―Excellence in Membership Growth‖ Chapter Excellence Award, awarded to
         chapters that demonstrate the highest overall growth rate of joint national and chapter

Here are some tools that your chapter can use to promote joint membership:

“Power of 2” tools and templates: available at
    ―Power of 2‖ national-chapter logo

       Customizable ―Power of 2‖ brochure for Chapter Administration and Membership
        Program (ChAMP) and non-ChAMP chapters
       Horizontal and vertical web banners
       ―Power of 2‖ ads in various sizes for chapter newsletters (available on the ―Power of 2‖
       ―Power of 2‖ customizable brochure (coming soon)

For additional tips, tools, and suggestions, visit the ―Power of 2‖ webpage at 2.

Member recruitment and retention

Member recruitment and retention efforts need to be well-planned and efficiently managed to be
successful. It is imperative for leaders to establish a membership development culture within the
chapter, linking membership to all of the other activities of the chapter. This means that
everyone in a leadership role in the chapter has to make membership growth an integral part of
the chapter’s long and short-term goals. Once a membership development culture is
established, chapters need to develop an ongoing system to attract and keep members.

Role of chapter leadership

Vice president of membership

The vice president of membership is responsible for the maintenance and growth of the chapter’s
membership. This vice president manages the overall membership function including the design
and implementation of programs that broaden membership engagement for the chapter,
increasing membership by an identified goal, and retaining current members.

The membership committee

Coordinating and conducting a multi-faceted recruiting and retention campaign is not a task one
person should undertake alone. Forming a membership committee is a good way to involve
current members in the membership recruitment process. Important factors to consider include:

      organizing and planning before starting any promotional campaign
      being aware of all the prospective members in your area
      knowing in detail what you have to sell and advantages of membership in both your
       chapter and national ASTD
      knowing your market—why haven’t the prospective members joined already?
      keeping your current members informed of your chapter’s and ASTD’s
       accomplishments and their value to members
      being aware of all possible ways to contact prospective members
      remembering that personal contact is the key to increasing membership and keeping it

The membership committee is responsible for recommending membership policies, reviewing
membership applications, recruiting new members for chapter and national ASTD membership,
and promoting membership. The committee may provide mailing labels for the newsletter, event
flyers, and other related chapter business; publish lists of new chapter members in the
newsletter; may develop and publish a chapter membership directory; and generally seek to
increase chapter membership.

The membership committee determines a realistic goal for the number of members to be
recruited and determines the best approach for the chapter. The VP of membership or
committee chair should keep the chapter board informed of the committee's activities and

The list below includes functions typical to membership committees:

      recruit new members to the chapter
      retain existing members of the chapter
      promote and achieve awareness of membership benefits
      be familiar with the national ASTD membership policies, procedures, and resources
      develop and maintain informational material that describes the chapter membership
      develop and implement strategies to identify members’ talents and interest to promote
      develop and implement strategies for recruitment of new members
      develop and implement strategies for welcoming new members
      develop and implement strategies for re-instating lapsed members
      organize recognition programs for years of membership or other criteria, as determined.

Member recruitment

Step 1: Take an assessment of your chapter

Effective membership management requires a good understanding of the challenges the
chapter faces and identifying what opportunities it has to attract and keep members. Every
chapter should try to identify:

      the current status of membership, including the current number of members and
       prospective members, last year’s retention rate, and the number of members who joined
       last year
      a historical perspective of the chapter’s successes and failures in membership efforts
       using data to track trends and changes
      an analysis of the chapter’s market penetration (i.e. the number of members versus the
       number of potential members)
      the chapter’s level of effectiveness in attracting and keeping members from various
       membership categories, geographic areas, and length of time in the profession
      a profile of which programs are most used by what membership groups
      the chapter’s norms for member participation and retention
      who or what are the chapter’s major competitors

This membership assessment should be conducted by the chapter’s board or membership
committee at least every two years on a formal basis and annually on an informal basis. The
formal assessment should come in the form of a report to the board. The informal assessment
can be done as an annual exercise and discussion by the membership committee as it does its
planning for the coming year.

Try to capture as much information as possible about your membership environment. Having
this information allows you to accomplish two goals: 1) gain a better understanding of your
membership challenges and 2) establish the baseline measurements for evaluating the
effectiveness of your membership plan.

Chapter membership assessment template

This template is designed to help you take an assessment of your chapter. Members of the
membership committee should complete this information and it should be shared with the board
to develop a common understanding of challenges and opportunities faced by the chapter.

Current number of members:
Current number of prospective members:
Retention rate (for previous year):
Number of members who joined (in previous year):

What were the chapter’s successes in membership efforts?
   success
   success
   success

What were the chapter’s challenges in membership efforts?
   challenge
   challenge
   challenge

Membership demographics

Geographic area
Length of time in profession

Program attendance (analysis of chapter programs):

Major competitors:

Step 2: Set goals for your chapter

Goal setting

Goals, both long and short term, should be used to develop an action plan for your chapter.
Long term goals can take three years to achieve, while short-term goals are reachable in one to
three years. Short-term goals are often a stop along the way to setting long-term goals.

Here are some simple thoughts on goal setting and planning:

      Evaluate your chapter. Find out what your members want and need from their chapter
       experience by sending a survey. Then compile the responses and use them to plan for
       the future.
      Set individual goals. Suggest that each membership committee member create
       individual goals that will contribute to the chapter’s designated goals.
      Be Smart. Goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.
       Create a timeline and action plan for each goal and then assign duties.
       Be sure to evaluate each goal from time to time, revising the goals or
       timetables if necessary.
      Re-evaluate. At the end of the year, evaluate the chapter’s status. Ask
       for feedback from members and make suggestions for future planning.

Develop your goals

           o   Determine the number of members you need to bring in
           o   Track the return on investment (ROI). It helps you budget for marketing
               campaigns and to track what recruitment methods are most effective and how
               much time you need to optimize marketing.
           o   Determine how much time you should devote to member recruitment
           o   Conduct a strategic planning session and evaluate the biggest areas of
               membership growth opportunity.
           o   Develop a detailed budget that includes costs for design and development of
               campaign pieces, volunteer time, postage, printing, etc.
           o   According to the Direct Marketing Association, most industry-specific campaigns
               average around a 2.61 percent gain. Set a realistic goal.

Sample goals (from ASTD Valley of the Sun Chapter)


• Increase membership by 25 percent
• Retain 95 percent of existing members
• Improve new member recruitment
• Implement new member Orientation Program

Membership goal-setting worksheet

This worksheet helps you collect background information on which to base realistic goals.
Setting goals for your membership program allows chapters to specify how their membership
activities can best complement their program priorities. Goal setting also provides focus for your
work by making sure that everyone agrees on what constitutes success (adapted from The
Nonprofit Membership Toolkit by Ellis M.M. Robinson, Kim Klein (Series Editor)).

Membership Goal-Setting Worksheet


No. Active Members:                 No. Lapsed Members: _____________

In the next three to five years, our organization plans to accomplish:

Members are necessary to the success of our overall program because:

Our program provides the following benefits to members; our program fulfills the
following individual needs of our members:

As we progress with our strategic plan, the role and need for members will evolve in the
following ways:



During the past three years, our organization has grown/lost membership:
200_: Net no. of members (+/-):              Percent change (+/-):       %
200_: Net no. of members (+/-):              Percent change (+/-):       %
200_: Net no. of members (+/-):              Percent change (+/-):       %

Our organization needs more members because:

We are willing to commit the following resources (for example, money, training, staff and
volunteer time) to our membership efforts:



Our current membership goals and objectives are:

Step 3: Develop a plan

The next thing you need to do to assure success in membership development is to
establish a plan of action. If there is no road map to guide your chapter, there can be an
effort to wander from one effort to another hoping that something will work.

Having a membership plan is also important because it helps ensure some continuity in
the membership function. If a two-or-three year membership plan can be established,
then each year the people in charge of the membership function can be guided by the
plan. Your chapter’s membership challenge then becomes determining which elements
of the plan to implement each year to accomplish the established goals. This also
assists your chapter when there is a change in leadership. Rather than having the new
chapter leadership in charge of membership focus on some completely new aspect of
membership, they can take their creative energy and apply it to a specific part of an
already established plan.

The membership plan

Membership goals and the strategies used to accomplish them are the basis of a
structured plan of action. Plan elements should include:

      an objective statement, defining your overall membership objective
      measurement criteria, which might include such measurements as net growth,
       retention rates, dues dollars generated, and membership by category
      identification of the current status of each measurement criteria
      setting goals for the next one to three years in each measurement category
      indication of who in the chapter is responsible for accomplishing the goals and
      a detailed plan of action to achieve the goals.

 Sample Membership Plan Outline
 A membership plan should include objectives for retention and recruitment, strategies
 to be used, and a timeline and budget for implementation. Strategy sections can be
 grids or tables indicating activity, target audience, materials needed, person
 responsible and deadlines. See below for a sample outline of each section and its


      Situation Analysis: Recap of past year's membership trends; brief analysis of
       historical trends; description of market potential; description of competition.

      Planning Assumptions: Brief statements regarding key assumptions that would
       affect the plan's success, such as the state of the economy, industry trends,
       availability of resources, etc.

      Objectives: Measurable goals for overall membership for the year, broken down
       by goals for recruitment (how many new members in each category or chapter)
       and retention (how many members will renew in each category or chapter).


      Strategies: Description of the strategies to be employed, including those for new
       members (welcome calls, new member kits, special offers, new member survey),
       special communications to members (e.g., a special letter highlighting the
       association's accomplishments on their behalf, a company benefits statement),
       renewal mailings (schedule, themes for cover letters, any special inserts),
       telephone follow up to non-renewers, lapsed member survey.


      Strategies: Description of strategies to be employed in all three types of
       recruitment: responsive (responding and following up to inquiries), activity-based
       (opportunities related to program participation and product sales) and proactive
       (targeted visits, chapter activities, direct mail).


      Budget: Listing of the costs to implement the plan, including printing, postage,
       research, or consulting fees.

      Master Schedule: Useful to compile all membership activities into one
       chronological activity calendar.

      Evaluation: Describe how results will be tracked and analyzed.

Step 4: Find and target good prospects

Not every potential prospect is the same. Some will be easier to approach and more
willing to join; some may be too time-consuming to recruit.

Just as your current members and customers have unique and specific wants and
desires from your chapter, new prospects will have a variety of views and wants. You
need to know who's who in your target audience and approach each group somewhat
differently to better ensure success.

Personalize and customize your membership message as much as possible to target the
different prospect groups. Chapters should create a profile of their prospects—and not
just a data profile (name, address, phone, email, etc.). Below are some characteristics
you should know about your prospects, before you target them to join your chapter:

      type of business they are in
      how long they have been in the profession
      what company they work for and their area of specialization
      how large of a company or practice they have
      self-employed or employees.

Cull your prospect list

Try not to begin your campaign with an unmanageable number of prospects. Break your
list into small groups that will allow membership committee members to follow up more
easily. Here are some ideas:

      Start big–send the first mailing to all of your potential prospects. Base follow-up
       communications on responses received.
      Divide your list into small groups by identifying the ―low hanging fruit‖ you already
       have had contact with. Ask board members or volunteers for recommendations,
       or go through the list with them and find the easier prospects.
      Maintain a current list of prospective members and periodically send them
       notices about upcoming events, new features on the website, etc.
      Identify a group of members who are willing to contact non-members and
       arrange visits with them to discuss what the chapter offers and get better
       acquainted with them.

Dealing with different types of prospects

Being able to recognize the attributes of different types of prospects can help you better
segment and target your prospect audiences. (from Strategic Marketing for Nonprofit
Organizations, by Philip Kotler).

      Resisters dislike the organization. They may disagree with ASTD's principles
       or feel that the chapter doesn't do any good. If these views are unfounded and
       the chapter can refute the negative impressions through well-founded evidence,
       you may be able to recruit some of these individuals. But if these views are well-
       founded, then the chapter will gain little by pursuing this group.

   Indifferents are prospects who don't see much benefit to joining the
    organization. The typical response you hear from this group is: "The dues are
    too high relative to the benefits that I would receive," or "I can get that benefit
    from other associations or organizations." This group includes free riders—
    people who feel that they can get the benefits of membership without joining. The
    best approach to indifference is to demonstrate that the chapter and national
    ASTD's value is high in relation to the dues.

   “Uninforms” are prospects who have little information on which to base a
    judgment. They are the ones who say: "I really don't know what you do," or "I
    have no idea of the dues, but I think they are high." The best way to approach
    these individuals is to send them information to increase their knowledge of your
    chapter and national ASTD.

Step 5: Communicating with prospects

Create an effective membership message

According to direct marketing research, prospects spend as little as 2.5 seconds reading
something before they decide if they want to keep reading, much less join or buy. With
the explosion of information and the vast number of entities trying to get their attention, it
is no wonder that the membership message may not be getting through.

An even bigger challenge is getting the chapter’s message across in electronic formats.
The 2.5 seconds that you have to capture a reader’s attention is shortened even more
when trying to get prospects to open your email or wade through your website. When
trying to communicate membership value online, the key is to use graphics and links to
keep the prospect engaged somehow in your website until the message has a chance to
get through.

Effectively reaching your prospects

The following are some tips that will help your communications capture the attention of
your audience:

      Start with the prospect, not the chapter—before trying to articulate all of the
       programs and services your chapter offers, your chapter has realized it is not
       about the chapter, it’s about the member. Prospects care about what’s in it for
       them to join your chapter. To be able to communicate with prospects, you have
       to convey what’s important to them rather than just listing what you do. One way
       to determine if your current membership messages are effective is to read
       through them and see if your benefits really tell your story. Does your information
       convey your products and services, and is it truly reaching your prospect (s)?
      Get to the point—tell prospects the value of what you do, not just what you do.
       To do this, you need to know what your members value. Common themes of
       what members of ASTD value are access to learning and education, career
       advancement, networking opportunities, and a chance to support their
       profession. Your chapter should focus on these things, telling prospects what you
       can do to help them, not simply what your chapter does.
      Personalization is key—make sure your prospects can identify that the
       information they are receiving is coming from your chapter. Be sure to
       personalize messages as much as possible because personalized messages
       receive the most attention.
           o Use the chapter name/logo on everything.
           o Have consistent marketing pieces with the same ―look‖ and ASTD brand.
           o If you have a small mailing group, use stamps. Stamped letters get more
           o Send a personal handwritten note— let the potential member know that
               you care enough about this, and that you’ve taken time to write a note.
           o Understand the generational differences and needs among your
               prospective members and target messages accordingly.
           o Ask a board member to invite a prospective member to lunch.
           o Allow prospective members to attend a meeting so they can experience
               the chapter. Waive the meeting fee. Offer them a ―trial membership.‖
               Introduce them at the meeting.

           o  Send a news release to the local media when a new member joins your
              chapter. Provide photographs when available.
      Ask for a response—If you don’t ask prospective members to do something,
       they won’t. Have a call to action. Try and engage prospective members in the
       process by asking for some sort of response or feedback. You could:
          o Offer a trial newsletter subscription. Ask prospective members to
              complete a reply card in order to receive the trial subscription.
          o Invite them to a complimentary function and require an RSVP.

Developing meaningful membership messages (a targeting grid)

The following is a technique your chapter can use to help you target your prospects and
develop a meaningful membership message for each targeted member or group of

   1. Identify your prospective membership categories, including the most common
      business or professional groupings and use those as your targeted markets
   2. For each prospective member category, try to list one or two things you know
      about their everyday challenges, either professional or personal
   3. Then, match up your chapter’s programs or services that can help these
      prospects meet their specific challenges.

By creating a targeting grid, you can focus your membership message on areas that are
important to a specific prospect or groups of prospects. If you can identify your best
potential members and pinpoint some problems that your chapter might be able to help
them solve, then creating an effective membership message should follow pretty easily.

Sample targeting grid

Types of prospect             Key challenges                 Ways to help
New to profession             Getting first job, no money,   Employment services,
                              no contacts                    discounted first year dues,
                                                             networking opportunities
Mid-career professional       Lack of recognition, career    Leadership positions,
                              path/future, keeping current   publications, continuing
Senior-level professional     Recognition, generational      Leadership involvement,
                              differences                    awards programs,
                                                             mentoring programs

Develop effective membership materials

Membership literature can be the first impression most prospects will have of your
chapter. Often, chapters introduce themselves to prospects through some type of
mailing that contains a brochure and a cover letter. The following are some elements to
keep in mind when preparing a new or revised marketing brochure:

      Make it memorable–have something that gets the reader’s attention, whether it’s
       a slogan, a logo, a photo, or a testimonial. In order to get prospects to look at
       your materials, you need to get their attention right away.
      Be creative-–Every day your prospects are bombarded with ads, solicitations,
       and email requests. Try to be different from the other written materials and
       electronic images your prospect will see each day.
      Make your materials ―scannable‖—Few prospects are going to take the time to
       read every work in your brochure. Break up the copy with photos, charts, and
       quotes. As the prospects glance through your brochures, they should see several
       key points highlighted that they will remember.
      Get to the point–don’t hide your message in a mass of copy or photos. Identify
       the key values of membership in a simple, direct way. That’s the message you
       want to get across. Don’t make the prospect have to search for it in all the clutter.
      Be unique—use statements and images that show the prospect that your chapter
       knows what is important to people and the profession. Highlight key buzzwords
       or statements that only a person in the field would use.
      Keep within your culture—every chapter is somewhat unique, if not for who its
       members are then for the way it does things. As important as it is to make your
       membership materials readable and creative, be sure to keep within your
       chapter’s culture.
      Be consistent—one way to create an image for your chapter is through repetition.
       Use consistent colors and slogans in your various marketing pieces.
      Post membership information on your website. Make sure it is easily found and

Materials for member-to-member recruitment

Here are some suggestions on what you can provide to your members to assist them in
recruiting colleagues.

      Provide supporting written materials, which might include various membership
       brochures and specific tips on how to address the most common objections
      Coordinate public relations efforts to create a positive environment for
      Host a conference call where recruiters can talk about successful techniques and
       discuss common objections
      Host a meeting to train your membership committee and members on member

Deliver your message effectively

There are a number of options for delivering your chapter’s message:

      Electronically—websites need to be user-friendly, engaging, and informative.
       These sites also need to be able to get the prospective member to join while on
       the site, so an effective membership marketing message is a must. Chapters
       want to increase the website visitor/prospect’s interest to the point where he or
       she wants to join
      Direct mail—still a widely used membership marketing technique. The key to a
       good direct mail campaign is to do test marketing of various membership
       solicitation packets. Try combinations of cover letters and enclosures with
       various prospect lists, and identify the combinations that get the highest returns.
       Then expand those successful elements to a broader campaign.

       Telephone—in today’s communications-overloaded environment, it is getting
        harder and harder to reach people by telephone. The telephone has one
        advantage over direct mail or email—it allows you to listen to the prospect,
        instead of just talking to the prospect.
       Member-to-prospect-—no membership message is more powerful then a
        current member telling his or her peer how much value there is in membership in
        your chapter.

Sample ASTD chapter membership materials

Greater Philadelphia web marketing:

Vermont ASTD membership packet:

Sharing Our Success (SOS) Best Practices: Membership Drives

The SOS program helps chapters improve through sharing and finding easy-to-use
ideas, resources, and practices in the areas of communication, contribution to the
community, membership, and the development of programs, products, and services. The
following are SOS best practices from ASTD chapters:

Midlands Chapter, Admit One Guest Pass
Description: The Midlands Chapter posted a ―guest pass‖ on their website for
prospective members to attend a free meeting. After meetings, the chapter follows up
with prospects that use the passes and has experienced a 38 percent conversion rate
of pass users becoming members.
       SOS Form
       Free Meeting Ticket
       Ticket Roster Sample
Eastern Pennsylvania, Membership Drive
Description: The Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter’s vice president of marketing divided
a list of national members in the area, and board officers invited them to a free
networking event. The chapter offered a reduced membership fee ($10 off the regular
fee) if the person joined the chapter the evening of the networking event and a reduced
fee ($10 off the regular renewal fee) to renew chapter membership.
       SOS Form

Member Retention
As important as it is to gain new members, keeping existing members is just as
important, if not more critical, to the success of your chapter. Experts say it costs 13
times as much money to recruit a member than retain an existing member.
Membership retention should be a key area of focus for your chapter!
Since the retention of members is one of the most important challenges for chapters,
there should be no limit to the efforts chapters make to keep their members satisfied.
Successful chapters believe that good member service has to be part of the membership
development culture, not a slogan.

Step 1: Get the membership off to a good start
First impressions are very important when it comes to motivating members. Try to
reduce the period from the time a member fills out an application and send it to your
chapter until the time that the member is finally and officially welcomed as a member.
Use your new member orientation to show potential members your chapter’s
enthusiasm and desire to achieve success. Be sure to stress the benefits of active
participation and give examples of how members can get involved. Let potential
members know from the start that their input is important and that they are always
       Acknowledge the application immediately within one to two days, if possible,
        via email or telephone
       Have a current member write or call the new member and offer
       Follow up after 30 days to be sure that new members are getting all current
       Establish a buddy or mentoring system. Ask members to call new members
        or members who haven’t attended an event for awhile. These can be ―How are
        you doing?‖ phone calls. Extend a personal invitation and offer to introduce them
        to other members and guests at chapter meetings. Discuss what resources are
        available to support them and how to take advantage of what the chapter offers.
       Engage new members. Ask members to call new members after they join your
        chapter. Call them regularly to discuss upcoming events and ask them if they’re
        receiving chapter information and are taking advantage of what’s available to
        them. Introduce new members at chapter meetings and feature them in the
        newsletter and/or website.
       Conduct a new member orientation. Review chapter membership benefits,
        events, volunteer opportunities, and board responsibilities. Offer activities that
        introduce new members to the board and their peers. The opportunity to meet
        and network with peers also reinforces the decision for joining. Provide a
        welcome packet that contains a description of member benefits and services, the
        membership directory, chapter bylaws, chapter publication, and a contact list of
        the board members and committees. See the Succession Planning Toolkit for
        more information about new member orientations.

 SOS best practices: Membership Retention
 Twin Cities, Season Pass-Membership Retention
       SOS Form
       Twin Cities Member Retention Program.doc
Step 2: Find ways to get members involved and keep them engaged

One key to member retention is getting members involved.

Chapters need to be careful about equating the term involvement with leadership. It’s
harder and harder to get members to become active volunteer leaders. With this being
the case, chapters need to change their focus from getting members involved to getting
members engaged. Once a member becomes engaged, there is a better chance of
getting them involved. Some ways to get members engaged include:

      Sending periodic short surveys to get members’ opinions
      Asking them to take on small tasks, such as handling registration at one event
      Identifying the least active members and doing some online or telephone focus
       groups to get their input

Don’t forget to thank members who become engaged, as well as those who become
involved. If they know you appreciate their time, you might get more of it.

 SOS best practices: Membership Engagement
 DC Metro Chapter, Increasing and Broadening the Role of Volunteers in
 Chapter Activities
      SOS Form.doc
      DC Metro Community Outreach Opportunity.doc
      DC Metro Volunteer Opportunities Reports.doc
      DC Metro Involvement Opportunity.doc
      DC Metro Volunteering.doc
 San Diego Chapter, Membership Engagement
      San Diego SOS Submission Form.doc
      2006 Welcome packet.doc
      ASTD San Diego Brochure2.pdf
      membership engagement cycle.doc
      Orientation outline.doc
      Selling ASTD output.doc
      volunteer sign up sheet.doc
 South Central Wisconsin Chapter, How Appreciative Inquiry Grew Our Chapter
      SC Wisconsin SOS Form.doc
      SC Wisconsin Chapter Revitalization Program #1.pdf
      SC Wisconsin Chapter Revitalization Program #2.pdf
      SC Wisconsin Chapter Revitalization Program #3.pdf
      SC Wisconsin Chapter Revitalization Program #4.pdf
      SC Wisconsin Chapter Revitalization Program #5.pdf
      SC Wisconsin Chapter Revitalization Program #6.pdf
      SC Wisconsin Chapter Revitalization Program #7.pdf

Step 3: Seek member feedback regularly
Your chapter might consider creating and distributing a survey to all new members at
orientation meetings and induction ceremonies. Ask what types of activities they would
like to see the chapter complete and whether or not they would be interested in
participating. Be sure to follow up on any responses indicating an interest in becoming
involved. Keeping these members informed about upcoming events will allow them to
attend as they feel time allows. Other ideas to seek member feedback include:

       Use focus groups and member surveys to find out whether you’re keeping pace
        with members’ needs.
       Ask members what they value from their membership. For example, what can’t
        they afford to miss at your chapter events?
       Conduct a member needs assessment every year
            o Once the feedback has been gathered from the member assessment, try
                and build programs and services around it. Communicate the results with
                the membership.

 SOS best practices: Surveys
 Chicagoland, Bi-Annual Customer Satisfaction Survey
       SOS Form
       SOS CCASTD Description/Survey
       SOS CCASTD Survey Summary
 Midlands Chapter, Membership Survey
 Description: The Midlands Chapter uses an electronic annual survey to find out
 about member satisfaction and collect data for planning chapter meetings and
 events. The chapter received a 60 percent response rate in 2007. To incent
 members, they place participants’ names in a drawing for a prize.
       SOS Form
       Midlands Survey (PDF)
       How Survey Results are Used
       Presidents Message

Step 4: Member recognition

Every new member presents an opportunity for you to expand the reach of ASTD and
your chapter. These professionals have expressed their interest by making a short-
term, up-front investment in your chapter. How you reward or acknowledge that
investment determines whether members stay and whether your chapter will grow.
Healthy chapters build recognition into the year’s program activities and find many
means, both large and small, of recognizing members.

Opportunities for recognizing a job well done are everywhere. The key is that every
chapter leader needs to understand the importance of recognition and always be alert
for opportunities to reward and recognize members. A timely phone call, a few kind
words at your monthly meeting, and a friendly note of thanks are simple and easy ways
of saying thanks that will bring untold benefits to your chapter.

Recognition should be built into annual planning in each program area and anticipated in
long-range chapter planning. Your board might want to create a small committee to plan
for recognition throughout the year within the chapter’s various activities. Following are
some suggestions for developing and maintaining chapter recognition programs:

           Appoint someone from each standing committee to supervise recognition
            efforts for that committee. This person should consider all the various tasks
            and responsibilities carried out by committee members and ways to
            recognize them.

           Consider how and when to present both simple and larger awards—at annual
            banquets and monthly chapter meetings, through a recognition column in the
            chapter newsletter, or some combination of the above. Keep in mind that
            recognition should be timely, consistent, and fair.

           Have an annual awards party or banquet. If appropriate, advise the media
            and advertise the event throughout the community.

           Institute a ―member of the month‖ program. You might post pictures of
            outstanding members on a bulletin board at the chapter meeting place or on
            your website.

           Award plaques or framed certificates for outstanding achievement in specific
            areas such as membership recruitment.

           Develop an incentive based recognition program and always reward a job
            well done.

Examples of member recognition programs:
Greater Birmingham “Big Bucks” member recognition program:

SOS best practices: Member Recognition/Involvement

Central Indiana Chapter, VIP (Very Involved Person) Bucks!

Description: The VIP Bucks program was developed to encourage participation in
chapter events, especially participation in committees. Members can use their VIP
Bucks to bid on silent auction items at events and pay for monthly programs.

       SOS Form
       VIP bucks tracking spreadsheet
       Volunteer bucks PDF
       VIP bucks sample

Step 5: Personalizing the dues renewal process

Collecting dues for the next year should be a smooth and painless part of the retention
program of every chapter. To ensure this, take steps to establish standard, effective,
renewal communications, including:

      Be sure to send at least three renewal requests to members
      Consider having an incentive for early renewals
      Send a pre-renewal communication to members summarizing the chapter’s
       accomplishments during the past year and telling members that their renewal
       notice will be arriving soon
      Personalize renewal letters (i.e. ―Dear Fellow Member‖)
      Ask current members to contact late-paying members
      Be sure to acknowledge the renewal payment and thank them for renewing

Membership growth is the best path to chapter success. Using all the resources
available and having a planned, well-supported membership effort is the best way to
effectively grow your membership and sustain chapter success.

For Chapter Administration and Membership Program (ChAMP) chapters, visit the
ChAMP page to view sample envelopes and invoices so you can educate your members
on what to look for at renewal time.

Links to resources

―The Value of ASTD: Messages for Members and Potential Members‖ document

“Power of 2” resources (all ―Power of 2‖ resources are located at )

“Power of 2” customizable membership brochure
Outside of brochure
Inside of brochure (customizable)

"Power of 2" template/application

Click here to download the customizable ChAMP chapter template/application
Click here to download the customizable non-ChAMP chapter template/application
Click here to download the customizable ChAMP chapter template/application (with
extra customizable space)
Click here to download the customizable non-ChAMP chapter template/application (with
extra customizable space)

"Power of 2" web banners

Click here to download a horizontal "Power of 2" web banner

Click here to download a vertical "Power of 2" web banner

The "Power of 2" national-chapter logo

"Power of 2" ads to promote joint membership in your newsletters and on your website

"Power of 2" full page PDF ad

"Power of 2" full page JPEG ad

"Power of 2" two-thirds page PDF ad

"Power of 2" two-thirds page JPEG ad

"Power of 2" one-third page PDF ad

"Power of 2" one-third page JPEG ad

National ASTD Member Benefits Brochure

Sample brochure from the Research Triangle Area Chapter

Appendix A:

Sample Chapter Leader Position Description: Vice President of Membership

Time Commitment:

      Term: One year

      Estimated Time Requirements Per Month:

                       Attending board meetings: two hours plus travel time
                       Attending membership committee meetings: one-two hours plus
                        travel time
                       Attending monthly chapter meetings: three hours plus travel time
                       Communicating with administrative office about routine issues:
                        two-four hours


   Member Recruitment/Orientation
      Creates prospect and new member packets detailing top benefits of joining
        the organization, and upcoming opportunities to meet other
      Ensures new member orientation occurs on a regular basis with board and
        committee members available to answer questions regarding the organization
      Coordinates distribution of membership packets, including current rosters and
        member benefits.

   Member Retention
      Implements programs that result in decreased membership expirations
      Ensures processes are in place to follow up with members whose annual
        membership is about to expire and advocates renewal
      Increases member renewal by a stated amount.

   Member Satisfaction
      Provides services that will enhance new members acculturation to the
      Conducts needs assessment and member satisfaction surveys on a regular
        basis, reports results, and make recommendations to the board.


             Recruits and trains incoming vice president of membership
             Recruits and trains volunteers to support membership functions
             Constantly updates personal knowledge of ASTD strategies and

   Board Participation
       Partners with other committees (marketing, programs) to highlight the value
         of becoming a member
       Attends and participates in all monthly board meetings and chapter programs
       Tracks new, renewed, and expired memberships and reports to
         board on a regular basis
       Participates in other chapter events, committee meetings, and conferences
         as available
       Represents chapter professionally and ethically in all business
         functions/organizational activities.


      Solid marketing and public relations skills
      Skilled in written and verbal communication, personal interaction, and problem-
      Ability to plan, organize, and execute activities as required by the position
      Ability to complete projects within established timeframes
      Ability to delegate tasks and monitor follow-through
      Time available to fully participate in chapter programs and board meetings
      Has a willingness to advocate the chapter
      Ability to seek others out as volunteers
      National member of ASTD and a member in good standing with the local chapter.

Appendix B: Sample communications to members
Sample letter:

Request for application or information about joint membership

                                                                                    chapter address line 1
ASTD Chapter logo                                                                           address line 2
                                                                                           phone number
                                                                                             I    website


(Insert Name)
(Insert Company Name)
(Insert Address)
(Insert City, State and Zip Code)

Dear (Insert Name):

Thank you for your interest in the (Chapter Name) Chapter and national ASTD.
Enclosed please find the membership application you requested. Also included is a
comprehensive brochure that explains the benefits of national ASTD and the (Chapter
Name) Chapter membership in greater detail, and our latest chapter newsletter.

Please take a moment to complete the enclosed membership application or apply online
at (for CHAMP chapters only). The annual dues for our chapter are
[$$]. As a chapter member, you can also sign up for national ASTD membership at a
reduced rate of $169 (a savings of $30).

Membership in national ASTD is an investment in your professional development. More
than 40,000 workplace learning and performance (WLP) professionals worldwide take
advantage of ASTD’s outstanding products and services. These members are found in
more than 130 chapters in the United States and 26 global networks.

Our local chapter, which has [#] members, meets every [week, day] of the month at
[location] with a dinner meeting at [time], followed by presentations on timely issues
affecting the WLP profession. In addition to these gatherings, we also conduct
(conferences, seminars etc.).

I am confident you will find your membership in our chapter and national ASTD
professionally rewarding. If I can be of further assistance, please feel free to call me at
[telephone #] or email me at [email address]. You can also visit our website at
[chapter website address] for more information.
I look forward to seeing you at our next meeting and welcoming you as a new
member of ASTD.

Sample letter:

Welcome to new member from president

                                                                                 chapter address line 1
ASTD Chapter logo                                                                        address line 2
                                                                                        phone number
                                                                                          I    website


(Insert Name)
(Insert Company Name)
(Insert Address)
(Insert City, State and Zip Code)

Welcome to the (insert name) Chapter of ASTD, and congratulations on taking a leap in
your professional development.

We are very happy to welcome you into our chapter as a new member and look forward
to seeing you at our next meeting on (insert date) at (insert location).

As a new member of the (Chapter Name) Chapter, you have the opportunity to
participate in one of our committees. We encourage you to become a committee
member so that your colleagues can benefit from your expertise. While serving on the
committee, you will also help guide the development of this chapter. Once you make a
decision to join a committee, the committee chair will contact you to discuss the exciting
duties for which you have generously volunteered your time. Active participation of
members such as you allows us to provide interesting and valuable chapter activities
and services.

If there is anything I can do to make your membership in our chapter more beneficial,
please feel free to call me at (insert telephone #) or email me at (email address). You
can also visit our website at (chapter website address) for more information.

(Insert Name)
(Insert Title)


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