Reverse your Declining membership base

Reverse your Declining membership base

Like most membership organizations, your organization was once bustling, a hub of passionate individuals united under a common cause.

But lately, those numbers have dwindled, leaving you wondering what went wrong and how to bring back the vibrant community you once knew.

If this scenario resonates with you, you're not alone…

Declining membership plagues many non-profit and membership organizations. Let's focus on the proactive steps you can take to reignite your community.

By taking action now, you can transform declining numbers and reverse this to build a strong foundation, returning your Organisation as a flourishing and productive unit that has a strong sense of purpose that other potential members will be attracted to. 

Here is a high level framework or suggested set of activity to put your organisation back on track.

Reimagine Value - “Take an honest look at your Value proposition, you might discover - it’s really good! ..Jeff Smith

1. Dig Deep: Conduct surveys, focus groups, or open forums to understand member needs and pain points.

 Imagine building a house without a foundation. Similarly, crafting effective strategies without understanding your members' needs is like building on shaky ground. This step helps you identify the "cracks" in your current offering and tailor your efforts to address the specific challenges and aspirations of your members. By actively listening, you build trust, gain valuable insights, and ultimately create solutions that truly resonate. A great starting point question could be…  Tell us what to stop doing and what to start doing…?

2. Craft Your Value Proposition: Clearly articulate the unique benefits your organization offers, going beyond the standard "networking" spiel.

In today's competitive landscape, simply saying "join our network" isn't enough. You need to clearly and concisely articulate the unique value you offer that sets you apart from the competition. (Yes you will have competition, whether its other organisations, membership apathy, time or conflicting dollar spend) Think of it as your elevator pitch to potential members. This step helps you attract and retain members by showcasing the tangible benefits they gain from being part of your community.

3. Speak Their Language: Tailor your message to resonate with your target audience's specific needs. Highlight tangible value propositions (after you take an honest look:)  like exclusive resources, skill development opportunities, or advocacy power.

One-size-fits-all messaging simply doesn't work. Just like individuals, your members have diverse needs and aspirations. This step encourages you to segment your audience and tailor your communication accordingly. By speaking their language and highlighting the value of membership that address their specific pain points, you increase engagement, boost interest, and ultimately convert passive members into active participants.

 Diversify your offering - “All your members are exactly not the same” - Jeff Smith

4. Tier Up: Offer tiered memberships with varied benefits and pricing to cater to different budgets and engagement levels.

Not everyone wants the same thing. Imagine trying to serve every diner with the same meal! Tiered memberships allow you to cater to diverse needs and budgets, making your organization more accessible and appealing to a wider audience.

This increases the potential membership pool, attracting individuals who might not have considered joining due to cost or perceived benefit mismatch. Additionally, it encourages existing members to upgrade as their needs and engagement evolve, fostering a stronger sense of community and long-term commitment.

5. Attract Young Talent: Consider offering student or young professional discounts to cultivate future leaders.

 The future of your organization probably rests on its younger individual members. By offering student, young professional or Intern discounts, you're not just doing them a favor – you're investing in your own sustainability. These individuals bring fresh perspectives, energy, and innovative ideas to the table, enriching your community and ensuring its continued relevance. The same goes if your members are companies, other organisations or legal entities. They will al have “human” representatives and cultivating young talent early also fosters a pipeline of future leaders, ensuring your organization thrives for generations to come.

6. Partner for Progress: Explore corporate memberships to tap into new funding streams and expand your reach.

Collaborations unlock possibilities! Partnering with businesses through corporate memberships offers a win-win scenario. Businesses gain access to a targeted audience and valuable connections, while your organization secures crucial funding and expands its reach. These partnerships can also lead to innovative initiatives, shared resources, and wider advocacy efforts, ultimately amplifying your impact and strengthening your community as a whole


“No one puts baby in a corner”. - The guy that Patrick Swayze played in Dirty Dancing

7. Get Interactive: Host diverse events, workshops, and online communities to foster interaction and a sense of belonging.

 Humans are social creatures, and fostering interaction is key to building a thriving community. By hosting diverse events, workshops, and online communities, you create opportunities for members to connect, share ideas, and learn from each other. This fosters a sense of belonging, collaboration, and shared purpose, making members feel valued and invested in the community's success. Remember, a vibrant community is more than just a list of names; it's a network of individuals connected by shared experiences and a sense of belonging.

8. Bridge the Gap: Leverage technology like webinars, online forums, and social media groups to connect members geographically dispersed.

Geography should never be a barrier to participation. Utilizing technology like webinars, online forums, and social media groups allows you to connect members across miles, fostering engagement regardless of location. This not only increases your reach and inclusivity but also creates a richer environment for knowledge sharing and collaboration. Imagine the collective power of diverse perspectives coming together, regardless of physical distance!

9. Listen Up: Encourage member feedback through surveys, polls, and open discussions to continuously improve your offerings.

True growth comes from listening and adapting. By actively encouraging member feedback through surveys, polls, and open discussions, you gain valuable insights into their needs, expectations, and pain points. This allows you to tailor your offerings, address concerns, and continuously improve the value you provide. Remember, your members are your greatest asset, and their voices deserve to be heard. By truly listening and acting on their feedback, you build trust, demonstrate commitment, and create a community that thrives on mutual respect and shared goals.

Rethink Communication - “i’m blocking my ears, I can’t hear you…nanana nanana” - Jeff Smith

10. Open the Dialogue: Move beyond one-way communication and actively engage with your members

True impact comes from a two-way street. Imagine broadcasting a message into a void instead of fostering a conversation. By opening the dialogue, you create a sense of community, gather valuable insights, and build trust with your members. Encourage discussions through social media polls, Q&A sessions, or open forums. Remember, engaged members are invested members, more likely to participate and contribute to your organization's success

11.Personalize Your Touch: Segment your audience and tailor messages based on their interests and engagement levels

One-size-fits-all messaging falls flat. Imagine sending the same birthday cake to everyone! By segmenting your audience and tailoring messages, you ensure content resonates with specific needs and interests. This boosts engagement, increases click-through rates, and strengthens member relationships. Imagine the difference between receiving a generic newsletter and one curated with relevant resources and events based on your individual preferences.

 12. Utilize Multiple Channels: Explore email newsletters, social media updates, and targeted campaigns to reach members effectively.

Every member has their preferred communication style. Imagine relying solely on phone calls when some prefer texts or emails! By exploring diverse channels, you ensure your message reaches everyone, regardless of their preferred platform. Leverage email newsletters for in-depth content, social media for quick updates, and targeted campaigns for specific segments. This multi-channel approach maximizes reach, keeps members informed, and allows you to connect with them in ways that resonate most.

Embrace Innovation:“ Don’t be trying your new fangled ideas around here, buster! We’ve always done it this way….”  - Jeff Smith

13. Think Outside the Box: Explore new partnerships, events, and initiatives that align with your mission and excite your members.

Staying stagnant leads to stagnation! Stepping outside your comfort zone fuels growth and engagement. Explore partnerships with diverse organizations, host unconventional events like hackathons or social impact challenges, or launch innovative initiatives that address emerging needs. These fresh perspectives inject excitement, attract new members, and demonstrate your organization's dynamism. Remember, your mission is a springboard, not a limitation. Embrace creative approaches to keep your community vibrant and impactful.

14. Collaborate for Success: Partner with other organizations to broaden your reach and offer unique value

Partnering with complementary organizations expands your reach, leverages different skillsets, and offers broader value to your members. Imagine co-hosting webinars, organizing joint advocacy campaigns, or sharing resources.

Collaboration strengthens your collective impact, attracts diverse perspectives, and fosters a sense of community beyond your own borders. Remember, you're not competing; you're contributing to a larger ecosystem of positive change.

 15. Go Virtual: Consider hosting virtual events or launching online training programs to cater to diverse needs and schedules.

 Location shouldn't limit participation! By embracing virtual tools, you remove geographical barriers, cater to diverse schedules, and offer inclusivity. Host webinars, launch online courses, or create virtual communities that connect members across regions and time zones. This increases accessibility, attracts individuals who wouldn't be able to participate otherwise, and fosters a global community without borders. Remember, the digital world offers endless possibilities for engagement and impact

In summary, this guide provides a step-by-step approach to revitalizing your membership community. From understanding your members and crafting a compelling value proposition to fostering interaction and embracing innovation, these strategies equip you to build a thriving, impactful community that attracts and retains passionate members. Remember, it's a journey, but with dedication and these tools in hand, you can reignite the spark and watch your community flourish once more.







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About Us

Allow me to introduce Jeff, a skilled professional with a proven track record of successfully running and growing two Chambers of Commerce. Jeff's experience in these roles has allowed him to assist and help businesses in growing and creating profitable enterprises.

In 2001, Jeff took charge of rejuvenating the Wanganui Chamber of Commerce. During this time, he increased membership from 80 to 270 full financial members and created three major Chamber sponsorship categories. With the help of local media, Jeff sold sponsorship and managed the inaugural 2004 and 2005 Wanganui Business Awards, which are still being run today.

In 2005, Jeff was asked to rejuvenate the Northland Chamber of Commerce, a 105-year-old organization. He increased membership from 180 to 430 full financial members and grew the Northland Business Awards year-on-year (2006, 2007, 2008), turning the event into the major fundraiser for the Chamber.

Today, Jeff runs M:BOOST to help businesses market and organize themselves. Additionally, he runs BOOSTbusiness, which supplies turnkey websites and education to help small businesses from Australia, the UK, the USA, Canada, and New Zealand attract customers. With his extensive experience and expertise, Jeff is well-equipped to help businesses of all sizes achieve their growth and profitability goals.