Yes, small donations are huge for nonprofit member renewals
Note: this is the first in a series of three blogs exploring member renewals for museums and nonprofits. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter for notifications when the other two come out.
For the past 8 years, we have had the honor to work with a history museum in the Midwest with great audience goals and a robust membership program. In that time, we have used data, analysis, and insights to better understand their members and find the best ways to deliver audience-focused messaging to drive action and grow their relationship with this institution. From behavioral segments, to event engagement, to direct digital marketing, it has genuinely been some of our team’s favorite work.
Most recently, we’ve been tackling the goal to improve first and second year member renewal rates. We turned to data to help us find fact-based solutions to this challenge and we built a Member Renewal Model – a predictive tool that uses extensive member data to identify the key variables that we can control to improve their likelihood to renew.
As a former museum professional myself, there are plenty of hypotheses and trends in this sphere when it comes to improving membership engagement and renewal. What was so powerful about this model, however, is that we were able to prove some key factors that affect how members are renewing and put real data behind a plan to move forward.
This week I’ll be sharing three of those key variables, because they are essential to making a positive change, but also because they’re valuable enough that we hope other institutions might be able to put them to use too. Enjoy!
Member Renewal Insight #1: Members who donate even small amounts ($1-$100) are more likely to renew
It is not at all a surprising concept that members who support and donate to the museum, beyond the cost of their membership, are more likely to renew. For those of us in the nonprofit or cultural sectors, it’s why we focus giving campaigns and special events on members, as we know they’re just overall more likely to support the organization.
What was so powerful to prove for this institution, though, was the importance of small donations. When we turned to the data, we discovered a gigantic jump between members who donate $0 as compared to members who donate just $1 to $100. In short, we see a lift from a 52% renewal rate to a 77% renewal rate. That’s huge!
While small gifts might not make a huge difference to a museum’s overall budget over the course of a year, if it means that soliciting small gifts from members could improve renewal rates by 47%, those small gifts suddenly seem so much more powerful.
This ties in with the increasingly popular concept that folks become members at their preferred organizations primarily to support the organization (and not just for the access or financial benefits that come along with being a member). We’re in an era where an invested member understands the importance of their individual support and sees themselves as a part of the museum’s success, making those small gifts easier to attain and strengthen the relationship between member and organization.