Wow Your Chapters with These Member Recruitment Resources

When it comes to member recruitment, chapter intentions are good, but execution? Not so much. After all, chapter volunteers aren’t membership professionals. Even the staff members at chapters and affiliates don’t always have the best resources and expertise to recruit members.


Provide a Member Recruitment Toolkit

Don’t wait for components to create their own membership marketing resources. Give them the resources they need—chances are, yours will be much better. As a bonus, chapters and affiliates are more likely to stick to your messaging and branding if they rely on your materials.

Your member recruitment toolkit could include:

Proven Tech Solutions That You Can Implement This Year

Help Chapters Meet the Expectations of Young Members

If chapter leaders don’t involve young members in discussions about membership, marketing, and programming, they end up relying on their own assumptions about the needs and preferences of younger members and prospects.

Advise chapters to recruit young members for board and committee positions so they’re at the planning table. Listening to younger voices helps chapters:

  • Design events and programs that appeal to young professionals.
  • Collect testimonials from young members about the impact of membership on their career.
  • Avoid relying on old tools to reach new audiences.


Many chapters have a Young Professionals committee that plan events for their peers, for example, roundtables on topics of interest to early-career members and prospects, or community service projects.

Young professionals can’t always afford membership. Many are burdened by student loan debt or don’t have the financial support of an employer. To make it easier for young members to budget for dues payments, your association and chapters could consider testing a Young Professionals membership tier with lower dues, or offering monthly automated dues payments.

Making the Case For Chapters

Review the Pros and Cons of Member Recruitment Incentives

Here’s a sampling of the suggestions and cautionary tales we heard at CEX about member recruitment incentives.

First, a proven idea: When a chapter recruits more members, consider giving them a higher rebate percentage rate.

And, another good one: Reward member recruiters with Amazon gift cards. One association learned that younger members preferred Amazon gift cards because they can use them however they wish. After making this switch, they saw a 25 to 30 percent increase in recruiter engagement.

Now, some issues to consider…

Providing a free month or two of membership as an incentive doesn’t always work. If an employer pays the dues, those free months may not make a difference to the prospect.


Words of warning were also raised about packaging membership with conference registration. Most associations see a lower retention rate for new members who join in this way unless they make a concerted effort to nurture them throughout their first year.


Membership drives are a great way to build recruitment momentum and a competitive spirit between chapters but they come with their own challenges. Members can get a little over eager during drives. Remind them to focus only on qualified leads. They shouldn’t spend time trying to get just anyone to join. Membership has to be a good fit for the prospect and the chapter.


Chapters and affiliates also must be able to handle the onboarding of a large group of new members who join during a drive. Don’t encourage membership drives unless both National and its components have set up sustainable processes for onboarding.

The Digital Boost Your Chapters Need to Recruit Members

We’ve shared ideas for member recruitment resources and strategies. Now, let’s focus on technical and marketing assistance that helps chapters level up their member recruitment game.

Volunteer leaders juggle chapter duties with all their other responsibilities. And chapter staff? They’re stretched thin too, jumping from one task to another. Your chapter leaders can’t give enough attention to their organization’s digital presence, particularly their website and email marketing. They don’t always use these tools effectively to recruit members—so that’s where you come in.

Chapter Rescue: How to Avoid Chapter Website Disasters

Get Chapter Websites Ready to Recruit Members

Where’s the first place a membership prospect goes? The chapter or affiliate website—it’s the chapter’s virtual membership brochure and front door. When components or affiliates operate independently from National, their digital presence often suffers. The old culprits are to blame: time and technology.

Components don’t always have enough time to update their website so it’s full of outdated information or lackluster copy. Prospects can’t tell if the chapter is active or not. They don’t see anything that persuades them to explore membership further.

Bargain basement technology is another problem. The website isn’t responsive (mobile-friendly), loads slowly, or has no search function. What happens? Website visitors don’t return. And if that’s not bad enough, Google punishes sites that aren’t mobile-friendly or quick-loading, so the chapter ends up on page 4 of search results.

To make sure chapter websites meet members’, prospects’, and Google’s expectations, do a chapter website audit as part of your annual review. Help chapters develop a plan to improve their website functionality and copy.

Helping Chapters FulFill Leadership Requirements & Needs

Provide Technical & Marketing Assistance

Don’t let your chapters flounder with bare-bones technology. Look into website and email marketing solutions you can offer to all chapters so they can improve their marketing and branding, search engine ranking, and communication with prospects and members.

For example, one of the CEX attendees covers the cost of a MailChimp premium subscription for their chapters. Or, provide email blast services as the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources does for its chapters—they explain how in their Chapter Leader Toolkit video.

  1. Relieve the burden of administrative tasks so chapter staff and leaders can increase their focus on marketing and recruitment.
  2. Find ways to streamline data entry, data-sharing with National, dues disbursement, and financial reconciliation.
  3. Consider implementing a shared system, hosted by National, for processing payments and tracking financials.
Empowering Chapters through Self-Assessments & Awards

Help Chapters Remove Barriers to Membership

What prevents a prospect from taking that last step and becoming a member? It often comes down to two cherished things: time and money. If joining the chapter or affiliate takes too long or looks too expensive, many prospects won’t make the effort.


Show components how to streamline the joining process. Membership prospects expect to take care of all their business online, including association business, like joining and paying dues. Make sure components have the technology and processes in place to securely accept online membership applications (data) and dues payments.


A long application is a deterrent to joining. Keep forms brief by collecting only the data you need to establish qualifications, you can gather the rest during new member onboarding. Granted, some societies have stringent membership requirements, but for the most part, it should only take a few minutes at the most to join or request to join your association. Either require chapters to use a standard application or review their application to make sure they’re not putting obstacles in the way of membership.


The other barrier to membership is money. Many prospects can’t afford a large dues payment. Even if their employer pays, sometimes the employee has to spend the money up-front and get reimbursed later. Make it easy on them by offering Instead of paying a big initial bill, monthly dues payments are automatically charged to the member’s or employer’s credit card or made via an electronic funds transfer from a checking account.


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About the author

Sarah has a soft-spot for component relations professionals (CRPs), creating amazing experiences, and having a good laugh. She focuses her time at Billhighway on building and delivering chapter-focused resources, creating unique experiences for CRPs through webinars, events and the one-of-a-kind Component Exchange (CEX). Sarah is passionate about exploring new ideas and trying new things. What we really want to say is Sarah is a component bad@$$ who is sure to put a smile on your face.