Don't be left in the dark.

Little Green Light is a cloud-based donor management system for fundraisers.
Subscribe to get our latest product updates, best practices and tips to grow your nonprofit.

4 elements of a successful membership program

Posted May 22, 2024 by Virginia Davidson

successful nonprofit membership programs

Unless your nonprofit organization has a controlling membership, in which the articles of incorporation give members voting authority, membership programs are implemented as a tool for building support of your mission. But building that support requires consistent effort and strategy.

Here are four key components of a successful membership program:

An organized, mission-focused benefits program.

Strong membership programs cultivate members who offer not only financial support but also have a deep connection to the organization’s mission. Membership means more than a coffee mug or tote bag. Successful membership programs offer benefits that:

  1. People really want
  2. Strengthen the members’ knowledge of the organization’s work
  3. Are not logistically challenging to deliver

The capacity to track and manage the membership program.

Successful membership programs don’t necessarily require one or more full-time staff members whose sole focus is membership. However, a successful membership program must have at least one person who can devote significant time to the membership program. Otherwise, how will you consistently deliver the benefits described above? A dedicated staff member can use a tool like Excel or Little Green Light to manage membership data and renewals, track lapsed members, and assess the success of membership appeals.

A plan for renewal cycles.

Successful membership programs have a clear plan for renewal cycles. Whether memberships are by calendar year or will expire a year from the membership start date, there’s a system to manage and track the expiration dates and a plan in place to solicit renewals.

A Stewardship plan for members.

Well-run membership programs recognize that they have to follow a Stewardship plan in order to retain their members. It starts with a welcome plan for new members. Communicating gratitude and appreciation throughout the year is crucial, as is making sure that members know about upcoming events and the work of your organization, as well as fulfilling any promised membership benefits.


Successful membership programs offer meaningful membership benefits and have a plan in place to effectively steward their members. Curious whether using the Memberships setting in Little Green Light is right for your organization? Check out this article to learn best practices around using the Memberships setting.

Ready to try LGL? Get your first 30 days free. No credit card required.