Orange County Chapter Membership Retention Strategies
In September and October of 2010, an Orange County committee was formed to carry out a chapter level appeal to lapsed members. The appeal consisted of three parts - of which two were accomplished. Additionally a follow-up procedure (Part 4) has been put in place for ongoing lapses.
Part 1 - In September 2010, an email appeal was sent to 100 former members with email addresses on file. Some of these were from the state membership database and some from the chapter’s records. Out of these members, 18 renewed their membership.
Orange County chapter Postcard - click to enlarge.
Part 2 - In October, a postcard asking 165 lapsed members to renew was mailed, inviting them to the chapter’s upcoming plant sale and chapter meeting. Of those 165, 15 rejoined. The postcard cost $245 to print and mail.
Part 3 - Ideally, follow-up phone calls would follow. However, Orange County has not yet found a volunteer to call lapsed members.
Part 4 (follow-up) - Since October 2010, the chapter has sent a simple email appeal out each month to the lapsing members who have email addresses.
The email appeals are cheap and easy. (Orange County uses a program called "Direct Mail" to keep track of email lists and compose and send messages. Jepson chapter has since adopted it to good results as well.) It's difficult to decide what motivates a member to renew, and several factors could be involved. Laura Camp has had members confirm that they got the lapsed member email and planned to renew, but perhaps they would have been the ones to renew eventually anyway.
The postcard results were somewhat disappointing, as the preparation of the postcard is time-consuming and somewhat expensive. Assuming the postcard was the important factor in motivating the 15 members to rejoin (which is a big assumption), it cost over $16 each per renewing member. We can hope that it makes sense to get our name and our activities in front of these former members, but Orange County will concentrate growing their email database and getting more sophisticated about email contacts.
The Orange County chapter membership committee knows from state results that phone calls are an important motivator to get people to rejoin. The chapter has a goal of contacting lapsed members by phone but has not been successful in recruiting a volunteer for this task. However, the chapter now sends a monthly email to our lapsed members, which is very similar to the one that went to the initial list of 100 lapses. In the past year, half of all dropped Orange County members with email addresses have rejoined.