Budget-Friendly Membership Drive Ideas

May 18, 2021

By Taryn Hefner

Taryn runs Marketing at Join It and is a lover of all things data! You can frequently find her experimenting in the kitchen, absorbed in a book, or brushing up on her Python coding skills.

View other posts by Taryn

Membership drives are a great way to increase membership and get your current members together to advance your organization’s cause. However, the most common limiting factor in planning membership drives is how much budget is allocated to events like this. Here are some ideas for your next membership drive based on how much you can spend for your event! 

Under $1000 

Outdoor Fun Run or Cycling Event: An easy way to get your feet wet with a membership drive is by doing some sort of fun run, jog-a-thon, or cycling event. All you need is some open space and a few volunteers! Consider using a platform like Eventbrite to handle your event registration, check-in, and follow-up, and encourage members to bring a friend, family member, or colleague to the event! 

Tip: Running on public land? Check with your city to make sure you don’t need a “parade route” permit. Using a school track? Notify the school district and acquire any necessary permissions. Want to do it digitally, across the country? Check out our post on virtual events

Email Outreach Campaign: Need to keep things super budget-friendly? Consider reaching out to people who have donated, attended events, or registered for newsletters but who-- crucially-- aren’t members yet. Reaching out to these “warm leads” can have a higher chance of success than reaching out to “cold leads” that haven’t shown interest in or even awareness of your organization. 

Phone Tree Competition: Get your members involved by having a phone tree race! The first person to get a pre-determined number of new memberships wins! 

Tip: For something like a phone tree competition to work well, be sure the prize is worth winning. A year’s free membership is nice but likely won’t light a fire under your members. Consider investing in a prize they’ll really covet! 

Under $5,000

Digital Ads: Want to get your organization in front of some new eyes? Consider advertising on Google, Facebook, or Twitter. Where you decide to place your ads depends heavily on what sort of organization you’re working for. Trade associations or alumni groups will likely fare better on LinkedIn, but nonprofits and art societies can flourish on Facebook and Twitter.  

Tip: Consider setting aside some of your budget for consulting fees with an ads expert. That way, you can make sure your ads will be more successful out of the gate than if you were starting from scratch. 

Invite Industry Leaders: The cost will vary depending on the speaker, but getting an industry leader to come to speak and answer questions at your monthly meeting or special event can be a real draw for new folks! Be sure to encourage your speaker to let listeners know about the membership benefits at the end of their segment or speech. 

Make sure this event is open to the public, and encourage your members to bring friends and family! Offering a discount for signing up as a member the day of the event can be a great way to encourage memberships. 

Tip: Be sure to set aside a portion of your budget for advertising if you decide to include it in your promotional plan before the event. 

$10,000 And Up! 

Host an Annual Conference: Annual conferences are one of the best ways to increase value for your current members and improve your membership numbers consistently. It takes a lot of time, effort, and event planning know-how to get an effective conference off the ground, so it’s worth hiring someone with experience in this arena. 

Tip: Consider consulting with an events expert before you even set your budget. Things like venues, seating, and accessibility options for disabled attendees might not cost what you think! 

Sponsor an Industry Event: If you’d rather not run a whole event on your own, consider contributing to a current event! Typically, sponsoring an existing conference comes with some publicity like placement on marketing materials, event websites, and mentions during the event itself. 

Tip: Be aware that you’ll typically need to contribute a significant amount to get these perks. Consider asking the event coordinators if there is a specific tier structure for sponsors, so you know what you’re getting! 

Wrapping Up 

Membership drives are an essential part of the membership management process! While it’s vital to run membership drives to boost your membership enrollment, it’s equally important to keep within the bounds of your budget! 

Still looking for more? We have more membership drive ideas and tips for successful drives.

If you’re looking for a membership management platform to help support your growing organization, try our free trial at Join It