Many of our clients would like to have a membership program, and have asked how to do that with standard Salsa features. This article discusses some basics, and then describes a process for creating and maintaining a membership program using standard Salsa features.
Campaign managers that need a membership program.
Before we start...
This article presumes that there are requirements for a membership program, and that you want to use Salsa to fill those requirements. The typical business requirements are
- members are in a separate, indentifiable group
- members pay a fee, typically an annual fee, to be members
- members receive some additional value (merchandise or information)
- members may be invited to members-only events
Naturally, your membership requirements may be different, so be sure to factor in those differences as you read this article. Note that putting members into a group gives you a great deal of flexibility when
- sending email blasts,
- hosting members-only fundraising, and
- throwing members-only events.
Since those are standard activities for a campaign manager, we won't address those topics here. We will, however, focus on creating a membership workflow in Salsa.
Salsa features that we'll use
Membership group or groups
The recommended best practice is to have a distinct membership group for all supporters that are members. Having this makes it very easy to message all members and to keep track of how many members there are.
Some organizations have a single "Membership" level. This works well for organizations that just need membership and do not want to manage more than one group of members.
In addition to a membership level field, some of our clients create a group for each of the membership levels when they have more than one level. This gives our clients the flexibility to easily address each of the membership levels separately: a handy thing to have when you are asking your members to upgrade to the next level.
The membership fee typically drives the membership level. Usually, the fee is paid for a full year of membership.
Membership expiration date
The date that the membership expires. This is is a custom field in Salsa which can be queried to find Supporters/members who's memberships are soon to expire. Please note that this is not a relative date query - you'll need to manually update the date in the query shown here in order to find an updated list of "soon to expire" members.
Membership field data definitions
In general, these fields are supporter custom fields because they describe the supporter's membership relationship. This table lists each of the fields and recommends the custom field type for each:
|Membership group||Salsa group (for membership) and/or groups (for multiple levels of membership)|
|Membership level||Picklist supporter custom field|
|Membership fee||Decimal number supporter custom field|
|Membership expiration date||Date supporter custom field|
|Member since date||Date supporter custom field if the whole date needs to be saved, Integer custom field if only the year is needed|
The key implementation strategies for a membership program using these Salsa features are
- Use a donation page for members to pay their membership dues for year 1
- Thank the supporter with an autoreponse
- Remind the supporter of the upcoming expiration date using a time-triggered autoresponse
- Use reports to find supporters whose memberships are expiring in the next month and quarter for planning purposes
- Use a distinct donation page to renew a membership
The membership donation page is where you make your pitch for the value of a membership and ask for a commitment. In the simplest form, the Header field can be used to explain the membership levels and each of the amounts on the donation page corresponds to a membership level.
Header Field Content:
Corresponding Donation Amounts:
In more complex forms, the Custom Donation HTML section of the donation page can be modified to not only show the fees, but show a brief description of each fee level.
The same presentation of benefits can also be done using the membership groups. List all of the groups as optional groups, and Salsa will display both the group name and the description. Salsa Services can help make this very effective by providing
- the groups in a list of radio buttons so that the supporter can click on only one membership group
- a checkbox on the default group
- additional formatting to clarify the group names and their description
- implementation of special business logic around choosing a membership level or membership fee
Add any relevant fields to the User Info section of your donation page when you build it:
- Membership group
- Membership level
- Membership fee
The donation page should be assigned a membership autoresponse. A membership autoresponse looks a lot like a donation thank you message, except that you can also use the Membership level. This means that the message can say something like "Thank you for becoming a Gold member of our organization! Your contribution of $123.45 entitles you to...".
Memberships are usually for a certain timeframe and usually expire at some point. A reminder autoresponse can be used to automatically schedule a reminder to the member about the membership expiring. Create the autresponse, then set the number of hours to wait before sending. Many clients choose to create a campaign of reminder autoresponses that send notifications to supporters (for example) 10 months, 11 months, and 12 months after an annual membership donation is made.
Custom membership reports can be used to determine
- The number and details of members that have joined in the last month
- The revenue generated by the membership program
- The revenue generated by each level of the membership program
- The members of a level that are expiring in the next month (good for upgrade requests)
- All members that are expiring in the next 'n' days
These reports can be used for purely administrative or tracking reasons.
To add expiring members to a group for email blast targeting:
- Create a custom report which displays Supporters/members who's membership expiration date is soon to expire
- Export that report into a spreadsheet
- Modify the spreadsheet by adding an additional column for the "Expiring Members" group.
- Re-import the modified spreadsheet and the Supporter/member records will be updated with their new group membership
Send an Email Blast Targeting Renewing Members
- Create a new membership page with updating messaging for "renewing" members (as opposed to new members)
- Use the Expiring Members group you've created to target an email blast
- Include a link to the Renewing Members Donation Page in the email blast.
This article has described typical requirements of a membership program, and suggested standard Salsa products to meet each of the requirements. We've seen that the Salsa products can be integrated to create a membership program for your organization.
If you have any questions, or would like to know more about Salsa Services helping out, then please send us some email, and we'll be glad to answer your questions.