By: Melissa Lagowski
Big Buzz Idea Group
Today’s the day to make things happen.
It’s time to move forward (while the whole world seems to have stopped, and we watch and wait and wonder and worry). Put aside the feeling of helplessness, that the more we learn, the less we understand what it all means for each of us. That’s the problem with paralysis by analysis: while we’re stuck in the mud and waiting for something, time keeps slippin’ and the world keeps spinnin’…
A boulder has been placed in your path. While deciding what to do about this obstacle (move it? break it? climb it? go around it? use it to your advantage somehow?), there are still vital tasks to complete and a mission to fulfill. Thus, life must go on for your nonprofit.
One of the biggest concerns for many 501(c)6 organizations has to do with issuing membership renewal invoices amidst deteriorating financial conditions. With no idea of how or when the situation will improve, it’s very likely that some businesses will not be able to pay their current membership dues as they fight to keep their business open, but your organization is also fighting to continue serving your members, and membership dues are a strong source of revenue for your organization. So what do you do?
What can you do TODAY to answer a question or solve a problem for your members? What can you share TODAY that will fully display your relevance? What can you do TODAY with the resources you have available to show your value during times of uncertainty?
Take this opportunity to remind members of the value of your organization and how you are working through the current uncertainties to assist them. Show how they can benefit from your services and resources through these trying times. This will make it easier for them to see the value of the renewal.
Remember that if you are a membership-based organization, you exist to serve your members. Highlight your programs and remind the members what is in it for them and why it matters. Clearly explain the benefits of the resources you offer to show the value of your organization. Including this information with your invoice can also serve as a good reminder about why a company should renew.
Some of your members may want to renew but just don’t have the financial resources to do so as they fight to keep people employed and keep the lights on. Plan for it now and handle these situations on a case by case basis. While some companies may be struggling, not all businesses are. Show sensitivity in your cover letter that you know these are trying times and offer members payment options up front if this is a viable option. Perhaps installments would help or perhaps you can offer a deferral payment to keep your members connected at this time. Certainly don’t offer more than your nonprofit can afford, but think of creative solutions that might benefit everyone involved. For the solvency of your organization, it is important to send out the renewal notices, and then adjust and accommodate as needed.
Expand Your Reach
As you rise to the occasion to support your members, there may be an opportunity to expand your services to other potential members. During this crisis, people are looking for solutions, resources and connectivity. If you have an opportunity to expand your reach, be sure to do it. Sharing your resources in someone’s time of need creates a sense of loyalty and trust to develop future memberships.
As a member-based entity, renewals are an annual occurrence. It is important that you continue business as usual as much as possible for the financial health of your association. And when you are devoted clearly to bringing value to your members on a year-round basis, they will see these renewals as a necessary business expense, not an optional one.