Desperate times call for inventive measures. Membership is down and people all around you are advising you to give more “value.” But value comes at a price, doesn’t it?
One of the easiest ways to upgrade your membership offerings is by upgrading your software and technological capabilities. Membership management software allows you to reach out to more people/potential members in a more efficient way. It gives your members more and takes less of your time to do it. That puts a smile on everyone’s face, except maybe your treasurer or your board who are sweating how they’re going to pay for it. Here are three quick ideas:
- Convergence: take a look at all the capabilities of the membership management software you’ve selected. Can it replace (or cut back on) any of your existing systems? There is no need to be spending money on systems that your new software can replace and the money you save by cutting them can then be used to put toward the cost of your membership management software. Will you still need bulk email software? What about your printed materials? Can sending e-newsletters save you money on postage?
- Extrication: by now you probably know the line items of your budget by heart. Take one last look at them and see if you have any services budgeted that will be eliminated through the implementation of your new software. For instance, do you currently have software support budgeted that would no longer be necessary should you choose a company with free support?
- Suppliers, vendors, sponsorship, oh my!: Who loves you? Who takes out ads in your print materials? Who pays to come to your seminars, conferences, etc? Whose organizational life is inextricably woven into yours? Every organization has at least one entity who shows up (or pays) to be present for you and your members. (If you don’t have one, it’s time to cultivate those symbiotic relationships.) With a private online community, your organization has a multitude of new ways to pay for itself. From paid corporate memberships to sponsorships/banner headlines, ads, corporate-paid job postings, the options are endless. Give them top billing on the front page of your site. Offer links back to their site (for a price and make sure the site opens in a new window so as not to draw traffic away from yours). Think about how free sites make money on theirs — advertising. How can you make it worth your sponsors while?
As I said in a Tweet last week, if necessity is the mother of invention, desperation is certainly the father. These are desperate times for many but providing value does not mean draining budgets when you exercise some creative financing ideas.