How to Encourage Giving Back in Your Member-Based Org

Melissa Geitgey
Director of Marketing, Togetherwork

It may seem that unions, trade associations, and fraternal organizations don’t have much in common. However, there is one significant thread that pulls them together—the role members play in helping them thrive long-term. 

You already convinced your members to join your organization, and they give both their time and money via attending programs and paying dues. However, with a little encouragement and guidance from your management team, you can improve the member experience, foster member connections, and secure more support for your organization with member giving programs. 

In this guide, you’ll learn why nurturing a culture of giving matters and tips for how to get started. As we review these tactics, keep in mind that member-based organizations cover a lot of niches industries, so you’ll likely need to adapt these strategies to your specific organization and its needs. Let’s dive in!

What is a culture of giving?

A culture of giving is an environment where giving back is highly encouraged as one of your organization’s core values, whether to a charitable cause or to your organization’s foundation. It’s important to note that, to effectively promote a culture of giving, your organization needs to facilitate opportunities for giving, such as organizing member volunteering outings or opening up new methods of making financial contributions.

How to Promote a Culture of Giving

1. Understand the Benefits of a Culture of Giving

As a member-based organization manager, the benefits of requesting extra contributions from your members might not be immediately clear. In fact, you might approach it with apprehension, not wanting to push your members away by asking too much of them. However, with the right touch and balanced strategies, member giving initiatives can strengthen your organization by:

  • Providing a new revenue stream. More money in the bank allows you to improve your offerings and level up your organization’s management software, which directly increases your membership’s value. You could also use those funds to create other programs that make your community more cohesive, such as a budget for affinity groups and member appreciation events.
  • Enhancing your organization’s reputation. If your giving back program involves donating to or volunteering for external nonprofits, you can improve your reputation as a group that contributes to the greater good and attract socially responsible members to join.
  • Creating a happy and healthy member community. Your members have a lot on their plates between work, school, personal events, and your organization’s events. Giving back makes people feel good, and a healthy member environment is critical for retaining members long-term.
  • Improving recruitment results. According to Double the Donation's volunteer statistics report, over 70% of employees want to work somewhere that offers volunteer opportunities. Boost your recruitment results by allowing staff to get involved in your giving program.

Being able to articulate these benefits of a culture of giving is crucial for getting leadership buy-in for your program—let’s explore how you can do just that.

2. Get Leadership on Board

As the team that usually has the final say on where funding and resources is allocated, convincing your organization’s leadership to support your giving program is crucial to get it off the ground. Here is how your team can convince leadership to allocate time and resources towards promoting giving initiatives:

  • Highlight the aforementioned benefits of cultures of giving
  • Provide specific benefits given your organization type (i.e. a sorority emphasizing that giving back can fulfill its philanthropic requirements)
  • Present a hypothetical rollout plan
  • Prepare answers to potential questions
  • Negotiate intelligently and compromise when possible

Most of all, emphasize the importance of leading by example. Your members look to this team for guidance, so you should always appeal to the importance of great leadership in creating a positive cultural shift at your organization.

3. Inform Members of their Impact

Your members want—and deserve—to understand that their efforts are making a real difference. You can secure and build member trust in your giving program by conveying impact. Use these key tips to show your impact compellingly:

  • Tell a story. The main difference between telling an engaging story and simply giving a lecture is its structure. Ensure your impact story has a clear beginning, conflict, resolution, and vision for the future, as well as “characters” (either members themselves or beneficiaries from the nonprofit causes your organization supports).
  • Create a member-specific impact report. If you’ve contributed to nonprofits in the past, you’ve probably already seen an impact report (also known as an annual report). These stylized reports present your organization’s impact in an easily digestible, visually appealing way that helps members understand everything you accomplished with their contributions. If you’re working with a nonprofit, ask if they can pull data on the donations attributed to your member community so you can make your own mini-report.

However you decide to convey impact to members, be as specific as possible so members can fully conceptualize the metrics. For example, let’s say your legal association volunteers for the Legal Aid Society. You might convey your impact by saying something like, “250 people contributed over 5,000 hours in pro bono work over the course of six months, providing expert legal assistance to over 1,000 individuals in need.”

Once you’ve implemented these ideas and your giving program gains traction, sustain its momentum by expressing your gratitude for your members’ generosity. Effective member appreciation ideas you can try include sending handwritten thank-you cards, gifting small tokens of gratitude, and recording heartfelt video messages from your staff. Whatever you decide to do, ensure your members always understand that they’re the heart of your organization and that you cherish having such a charitable community.

Melissa Geitgey
Director of Marketing, Togetherwork

Melissa Geitgey, APR, is the director of marketing for Togetherwork’s higher education product group. Togetherwork is a Saas company that provides integrated software and financial solutions that help organizations and membership groups manage, grow, and engage with their Communities.

Melissa has extensive experience leading marketing and communications departments to advance strategic initiatives, managing events and corporate brands for Saas, higher education, athletics, professional services, and nonprofit organizations. She graduated from Valparaiso University with a B.A. in Communications and received her Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) by the Universal Accreditation Board in 2011.

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