Summary of The Nonprofit Membership Toolkit

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This book offers one-stop shopping for the nonprofit organization in need of money, political influence, credibility, free labor and all of the other benefits that members can bring. Not only does the book provide abundant information on recruiting members, it also offers, free and online, copies of forms and worksheets you can use to help advance your organization’s membership campaign. It begins at the beginning, explaining what membership is. This may sound self-evident, but the very definition of membership has some surprising twists. This book will save you from making some very obvious mistakes - such as failing to convert people who contact you into members. It’s a straightforward, no-nonsense workbook with excellent samples and examples. If you are an executive, board member, staffer or volunteer at a nonprofit, offers its congratulations: at last, here’s the right book for you.

About the Authors

Ellis M.M. Robinson, president of The Buttonwood Partnership, has more than 25 years of experience in membership development, fundraising and nonprofit management. She conducts training seminars on membership for such nonprofits as the Alaska Wilderness League, the Island Institute, the Land Trust Alliance and others. Kim Klein, the editor of this series of books, is the author of Fundraising for Social Change and the co-author of Stir It Up: Lessons in Community Organizing and Advocacy, which she wrote with Rinku Sen.



What Is a Member

Members can be donors, supporters, joiners or people who help your organization in other ways. Calling all of these people members helps to emphasize the fact that they have a personal connection with your organization and a commitment to it. People who send money might be willing to help your organization in other ways. Identifying them as members keeps the full range of their possible utility clearly in view. Organizations need members in order to:

  • Be credible - If you’re trying to protect a coastal area, you had better have people who live there as members.
  • Power - Members can bring political influence that translates into power.
  • Know-how - Members can donate specialized expertise. Accountants, lawyers or teachers, for example, can provide valuable skills and knowledge on a volunteer basis.
  • Word-of-mouth promotion - Members who tell their friends about your great organization provide the best possible publicity.
  • Free labor - Members volunteer to help with fundraising campaigns, educational initiatives and other activities.
  • Money - Individual donors provide more than 80% of many nonprofits’ funding.

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