Membership Development Strategy
A project for Society of Environmental Journalists, Inc. (SEJ)
Pro Bono Time
The goal of this project is to lay out high-level strategy and action plan for the Society of Environmental Journalists, to increase SEJ membership among news professionals working in print, broadcast and online media. Currently SEJ has 1,400+ members in the US, Canada, Mexico and 25 other countries. The group was founded by a handful of award winning journalists in 1990 and quickly grew to 600 members. Over the last few years, even as newsrooms have cut staff dramatically, SEJ membership has been in the range of 1,400 to 1,500.
SEJ members work for newspapers, TV, radio stations and networks, online operations, investigative studios and wire services. Many SEJ members are independent freelancers working in every form of media, from traditional print, broacast and online media to App developers, filmmakers, photographers, data visualizers and interactive book designers.
SEJ staff have data about geography and employment categories of current members and a committee discussing new indicators to track, drives to organize. We have great anecdotal feedback to work with but we have not recently surveyed SEJ members to learn what they most value about their SEJ membership and why. What are they missing. We would like to better define "member services" and deploy good messaging about what membership in SEJ delivers for you, to increase participation and benefit for people who cover environment-related issues.
Building a base of supporters is essential to the success of any long-term campaign. A membership program can also be a key element of an organization's fundraising strategy. The focus of this project is to help an organization develop an actionable strategy and a clear road map for improving and expanding its membership program. (NOTE: The organization must have a functional membership program already. This project does not cover the implementation of a new membership program.)
A strategic membership development document of no more than 10 pages, which may include:
- An in-depth SWOT analysis for the organization’s current membership program
- A Market Analysis
- Membership growth goals and objectives
- Membership development strategy recommendations
- Budget and resources for future membership development activities
The professional meets with the organization to learn about the organization’s current membership program, development goals, available budget and resources for membership development activities. The professional, together with the organization, develops a plan for an in-depth SWOT analysis.
The professional and the organization’s leaders conduct an internal SWOT analysis for the organization’s membership program.
The professional helps the organization obtain external data for an external SWOT analysis. This process may include surveying existing and potential members through focus groups and/or one-on-one interviews.
The professional and the key internal stakeholders conduct an in-depth discussion about the external and internal SWOT analysis outcomes.
The professional conducts an independent market analysis to research the target market, competition, and peer organizations’ membership program development strategies.
Based on organization’s goals and findings from the SWOT and market analyses, the professional delivers a strategy document including membership development/engagement recommendations, which may include communications and outreach strategies, one-time events and activities, ongoing services and programs.
The professional and the organization review the recommendations. The professional incorporates the organization’s feedback to finalize the strategy document.
The professional and the organization conduct a wrap-up meeting and discuss next steps for the organization to implement its strategy for membership development.
- At least 3 years of experience in association management, membership program development, or in a relevant strategic field including management consulting, corporate strategy, business development, and entrepreneurship
- Ability to facilitate and lead potentially tense discussions to find a workable compromise
- An established membership program with procedures and criteria for recognizing or designating members. Examples of such membership programs may include professional associations, alumnae/alumni programs, client networks of membership-based community organizations, etc.
- An initial SWOT (strengths/weaknesses, opportunities/threats) analysis of the current membership program as a starting point for the professional
- An Executive Director, Membership Director and/or Board of Directors who are strongly committed to this project and understand that the strategy discussions involved in this project may shape and/or direct the organization’s high-level strategy and/or branding discussions and changes
- Ability to articulate goals and challenges, and to provide data and information on the organization’s current membership program
- Willingness to allocate budget and resources for future membership management and development activities
Can you provide additional details of what is involved?