compiled by Ardis Bazyn, ACB Membership Chair
Affiliates should have a process for renewing past and current members. Dues renewal time is an excellent time to contact past members, current members, and potential members — those you have met at some time in the community. In order to contact members and past members, it is essential for someone to have a good database of members for your organization. The more information the affiliate has, the better off it will be. Each chapter and affiliate should collect the names, email addresses, mailing addresses, phone numbers, and preferred format for sending publications. Each year, the person in charge of the database needs to check the data when calls, emails, and mailing notices are sent. The database should keep past members’ information as well as blind friends’ and friends of the affiliate’s contact information. Members who do not renew should be coded with a note as to why they have dropped.
Some elements to consider for a renewal/reactivating plan are:
- Remind chapters to collect members’ dues.
- If chapter members do not renew with the chapter, contact them as at-large members. Sometimes, a chapter member can no longer attend the chapter meetings or have had a disagreement with a member, but still want to support or keep in touch with the state or special-interest affiliate, or just receive newsletters.
- For at-large members, send letters to current and past members. In the letter, tell the readers about the organization’s past successes and remind them of key benefits of the organization. Give them the ways they can submit dues and/or donations.
- Offer an incentive for those paying dues before a specific date, such as January 1.
- Give another incentive, such as an entry into a prize drawing, for those paying dues early.
- Make it easier for members by sending a pre-addressed envelope for returning dues and possible donation. It helps to send the letter in the member’s preferred format: braille, large print, or email.
- Give free memberships to those joining for the first time or scholarship winners as well as other students.
- Make phone calls and send follow-up emails to individuals who have not responded with dues payments.
- Have a dues payment option on convention registration forms for at-large members or for reactivating members who haven’t been paying dues for a while.
- Send ongoing invitations via email about upcoming meetings, focus calls, and conferences and conventions to keep them aware of your affiliate happenings.
- If you have a chapter or affiliate phone tree, make contact with those without email so they remember what you have to offer.
As you continue to contact previous members, you might ask why they haven’t renewed. You might be able to give reasons they should consider rejoining.