3 minute read

When it comes time to ask your nonprofit’s members to renew, how you go about it is as important as the ask itself. Crafting an email or series of emails for member renewal may be one of the most important things you do all year—for the most effective effort, this is a process that requires careful consideration.

First and foremost, a member renewal email should be personalized, speaking directly to each member as if they play an integral role in your organization. Do you know how many members have discontinued their membership with an organization because their renewal notices were generic, impersonal and written like a form letter?

Your renewal letter or email should include a powerful message that reminds members of the value that your nonprofit offers and acknowledges both your commitment to the member and the importance of their support.

Once you have the “must be personalized” rule memorized, here are five other considerations to keep in mind for your next member renewal emails.

1. Get the salutation right.

It might not seem like a big deal, but if you botch the salutation, your member may never get to the part where you talk about the amazing work your organization has been doing. Here are a few tips on getting the greeting right:

  • Never say, “Dear member.” Refer back to the “must be personalized” rule.
  • Dear [first name] is best, but be sure your database has correct first names for everyone so you don’t end up with a “dear blank” or worse, “dear first name.” Either way, that’s not just impersonal; it’s embarrassing.
  • Avoid using Ms., Mr., or Mrs. A glitch in your database can mean getting a member’s gender wrong—you don’t want a “dear Mr. So-and-so” ending up in a woman’s inbox. Mistakes like that clearly suggest you don’t know this member.

2. Explain the benefits.

When a member receives a renewal notice, she’s not going to immediately ponder all the good you’ve done over the past year. Let’s be honest: Her first question will likely be, what has this organization done for me lately? In considering a membership renewal, most members will weigh the value and benefits of membership. That’s why it’s important to craft your renewal messages from the point of view of your reader. Your overview of the benefits doesn’t have to be long-winded, but it should be relevant and speak directly to the member.

3. Make the ask urgent and honest.

Once you’ve personally greeted your member and reminded her about the benefits of belonging, it’s time to make the ask. Of course, this won’t be a surprise. Even if she’s only scanned your email, she knows this pitch is coming. Make it straightforward—simply ask her to renew her membership today and explain how to do it. There’s no need to water down your message or try a soft sell. Your member has already been sold once; now it’s about reaffirming her original decision to join.

4. Make it easy to renew.

The upside of sending member renewal emails as opposed to letters is your members can act right away with just a click. If you offer a variety of payment options, let them know in your email with a link directly to the landing page on your website for membership renewals. The whole renewal experience should be simple, painless and take a matter of minutes. The more roadblocks you remove, the higher your conversion rate will be.

5. Say thank-you and cast a vision for the coming year.

Use your last few sentences to offer a genuine note of thanks for previous support and an exciting preview of what’s to come. It’s important to continue to build an emotional connection between your members and your organization, regardless of how longstanding your members are. The closing message is the perfect place to warmly express your gratitude and anticipation for a continued partnership.