9 strategies to increase membership in your club

Joining a club is a great way for people of all ages and backgrounds to get involved in their community. It offers a built-in social network of like-minded individuals who get together for the same cause or reason, providing an enjoyable way for you to do what you love with others.

Whether your club is a recreational sports league, a networking group for professionals in a certain industry, or a book club, two things you need to focus on are increasing membership and retaining members.

Strategies to increase membership range from using word-of-mouth and digital marketing to keeping your current members satisfied and being transparent about your membership fees. Here are nine actionable strategies to get more people to join your club.

Pro-Tip

Use Jotform’s membership application templates to gather new club members online — for free!

1. Create an online community

Even if your club meets in person, it’s important to have an online community where your members can thrive. Jonathan Zacharias, founder of GR0, a digital marketing and SEO agency, stresses the importance of knowing who your members are and what they want so you can create personalized content that responds to their goals, interests, and values.

Whether it’s on a website, a Facebook group, or a WhatsApp group chat, create an environment where members want to be. “Personalized content gives prospective members a reason to browse your Facebook page, spend time on your website, and sign up for your email list,” says Zacharias.

2. Use word-of-mouth marketing

People must know about your club in order to join it. Membership marketing is vitally important to the success of your organization. Word of mouth is the most powerful way your existing members can drum up interest.

Make it clear to your members who the club would like to recruit. For example, if you’re part of a recreational sports team, then your club can focus on potential members who can make practice and games on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 7–9 p.m.

Encourage your members to share information about the club and to tell their friends and family that you’re looking for new members. If members are willing, they can even share via email or social media.

3. Gather feedback from your members and community

To increase membership in your club, you have to ensure the club is something people actually want to be part of. Asking your members and your community for feedback is a great way to get insight into what people think.

“Digital media can be a critical tool in gaining member feedback and is an extremely effective way to stay top of mind with your current and prospective members,” says Zacharias. 

“These mini-feedback sessions could be Twitter or Facebook polls or a single question in an email. These are most effective when they’re timed around an annual event or a membership drive.” 

Once you know how your club is doing, you can improve upon any weaknesses and show current and prospective members that your club is something they want to be part of. Get started with inspiration from these feedback form templates.

4. Make it easy to get involved

Potential new members will most likely find their way to the club’s website, which should be as welcoming as possible. The site should also be appealing and clearly state important information, such as what the club is about and how to get involved.

The best way to accomplish this is with an open invitation to apply for membership. The club membership application form should collect an applicant’s name and contact details. Check out these membership application templates for ideas on how to get started. All of Jotform’s templates are fully customizable.

Offering flexibility, convenience, and enjoyment will drive participation. When possible, create a range of opportunities for people to participate at times that are convenient for them.

5. Craft your messaging carefully

Whether you’re using flyers to get the word out or focusing your attention on social media ads, it’s important to think strategically about how you want to attract people. 

“If you’re working on building gym memberships, for example, your message should be one of wellness, community, and vitality,” says Zacharias. 

“In your marketing, highlight the positives of exercise and make that attractive to potential members. Once they see that you can offer these benefits, they’ll be more inclined to join.”

The message shouldn’t be just about joining the club; it should also convey to members what value they’ll get from being part of that community. Will they find friends with similar interests? Will they get better at a specific activity? Will they learn new skills? 

These are the kinds of messages that attract people to join a club. You can also use your key messaging to help members craft an elevator pitch about the club that they can use in their recruitment efforts.

6. Keep your current members satisfied

Retaining engaged, happy members is key to increasing membership. This is common sense, but should not fall to the wayside in favor of recruiting new members.

People stay in a club that makes them feel like they belong and adds to their lives. Build a vibrant social calendar where members can get to know each other on a deeper level. It will foster greater camaraderie and a commitment to the organization.

When your current members are fully engaged in the club, they’ll be more inclined to participate in recruiting efforts, such as organizing a “bring a friend” day or bringing their families to club events to learn more about the organization.

7. Be transparent about all aspects of the club

Communicate with members about membership dues and where the money goes. This can build trust in the organization, start a dialogue, and ensure members that they’re getting value out of their participation. 

Communication flow between all members and leaders should be crystal clear. Give members plenty of opportunities to ask questions, contribute to ideas, and give feedback, whether anonymous or not.

If the club conducts fundraising, be sure to share the intended purpose(s) for all raised funds. Being open and transparent about fundraising and budgets makes members and potential members feel more invested in the group.

8. Offer an incentive

Offering perks to members who bring in new prospects, such as a discount on their annual fees, is a good way to improve recruiting efforts. Incentives don’t have to be just for current members. You can offer new recruits discounts, swag, and other reasons to sign up.

If a prospective member is on the fence about joining, determine the best person for them to talk to. Getting current members to participate in member recruiting is a great way to build trust with prospects and show them what life as a member is really like.

Prospects may feel more comfortable speaking with a current member rather than a club administrator because a regular member may seem more like a peer. Peer conversations give prospects a chance to ask nitty-gritty questions about things like how the club uses their fees and how many people attend meetings. 

Offering incentives to peers may encourage them to actively participate in recruitment. 

9. Participate in the community

Just like no person is an island, no club can operate on its own. Whether you’re part of an athletic community or a chess club, it’s important to connect with other organizations and individuals in your community. This is a good way to get the word out about your club and get prospective members to join.

Volunteer in partnership with other clubs, donate time and resources, participate in networking events, or attend community events with members of your group. These activities show the community that your club cares about others and that your members are active and engaged.

Do you run a club? What other strategies do you use to increase membership?

This article is originally published on Dec 01, 2016, and updated on Apr 12, 2022.
AUTHOR
An avid writer, she has contributed to sites including Entrepreneur and Social Media Today. A Bostonian and University of Miami alum, she loves traveling, trying new foods, and drawing & crafting.

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