Membership Renewal Letters Guide

When your supporters’ membership is up for renewal, how can you help ensure that they’ll continue as members for another year?

One of the most effective tools in your toolbox is a strong, persuasive membership renewal letter.

In this ultimate guide, we’ll focus on optimal membership renewal letter strategies, including how to write compelling letters and support the renewal process with powerful software.

Write membership renewal letters sure to encourage renewal!

THE BASICS OF MEMBERSHIP RENEWAL LETTERS

You should send membership renewal letters to current as well as lapsed donors.

Recipients of Membership Renewal Letters

The primary recipients of membership renewal letters are current members whose membership will expire soon. Contacting members while they’re still enjoying the benefits of membership increases the chance that they’ll renew or upgrade to a higher membership level.

You should also send letters to lapsed members encouraging them to rejoin your program. If their membership recently lapsed, you can send automated reminders with a link to renew online, then reach out through email or a phone call. You should also reach out to people whose memberships expired in the last few years to remind them what they’re missing, let them know about new programs and benefits, or offer a discount on renewal.

Communicating with people who received gift memberships requires a different approach in the renewal letter. Reach out to the gift purchase with an opportunity to renew the gift membership before asking the recipient to purchase a membership themselves.

Give your recipients enough time to respond to your membership renewal letters.

Timing of Membership Renewal Letters

The success of a membership renewal letter relies in large part on its timing — too early, and your members don’t feel the urgency of a deadline; too late and your members may decide that letting their membership lapse doesn’t bother them.

While some organizations send membership renewal letters once a year (usually in December), the best practice is to send renewal letters on a rolling schedule based on the members’ renewal date. Start sending a series of renewal letters before the constituent’s membership expires. Typically, the start date for renewal letters depends on the cost of the membership—the more expensive the membership, the earlier you should start outreach.

You’ll achieve the best results if you invest in membership management software that automates your outreach and makes the renewal process easy and efficient for your members.

 

MEMBERSHIP RENEWAL LETTERS: STRATEGIES AND SAMPLES

Personalize your membership renewal letters.

Personalize

Personalization requires more than using the member’s preferred name and title. True personalization will include other information about the member, such as references to:

  • How long the recipient has been a member.
  • For lapsed donors, when the membership expired.
  • Past events the recipient attended.
  • Any donations or additional support the member provided, including the positive impact of those contributions.

This kind of detailed personalization demonstrates that you value each members’ individual contribution to your organization and their engagement in your community.

Show your members you value their membership with personalized membership renewal letters:

Personalize your membership renewal letters as much as possible.

Our Membership Renewal Letter Sample

Dear Jane Doe:

It’s that time again: time to renew your membership with the City Art Museum. You have until June 30 to submit the necessary materials and maintain your place in the City Art Museum membership community!

We’ve loved having you as a member of the City Art Museum since 2012! We hope you had as much fun as we did at our members-exclusive Evening at the Museum Gala in December.

Choose a format for your membership renewal letters.

Choose a Format

Your main options when composing membership renewal letters are direct mail and email. While email might be faster and less expensive, a physical letter might be more persuasive and more difficult to ignore.

Regardless of the format you choose to send your membership renewal letters, you can save time while maintaining personalization by crafting templates for different membership levels. Because the highest levels of membership have the highest renewal dues, it’s definitely worth the time to craft the language and the personalization.

All of your membership renewal letter templates should be:

  • Branded for your organization.
  • Visually engaging and clearly written.
  • Carefully copy edited and proofread for errors.

Brand your physical or digital membership renewal letters to your organization.

Whether you're sending a physical or digital letter, ensure you're branding your membership renewal letter to your organization.

Our Membership Renewal Letter Sample

Whether you're sending a physical or digital letter, ensure you're branding your membership renewal letter to your organization.
Incorporate strong calls to action in your membership renewal letters.

Incorporate Calls to Action

One of the most common mistakes of membership renewal letter-writing is assuming that recipients will read the entire letter beginning to end. The truth is, people are likely to skim over their messages in any format, and they’re even more likely to skim emails. Your call to action (CTA) must stand out to ensure that readers understand the sense of urgency and importance of their renewal.

To craft an effective CTA, write a single concise sentence. For example, “Upgrade your membership by June 30.” Then, include the CTA in the following locations:

  • Subject line (in an email).
  • First paragraph.
  • Section headings.
  • Bold or large type.
  • Postscript.

Remember, everyone skims in a different way, so be sure that your call to action is placed everywhere a reader may look.

Tell your members exactly what they need to do and when they need to do it in your membership renewal letters.

Use your membership renewal letters to convey a sense of urgency.

Our Membership Renewal Letter Sample

To secure your access to these amazing members-only perks in the coming year, fill out your membership application and send your payment by June 30.

Include renewal materials with your membership renewal letters.

Include Renewal Materials

The purpose of a membership renewal letter is to encourage renewal, so why not include the necessary renewal materials directly in the letter?

You’ll need to format these materials differently depending on the type of renewal letter you decided to send:

  • Physical letters: Include a return envelope and a copy of the renewal form, but also print a link for the member to visit online and renew there if they prefer.
  • Email: Include direct links to the renewal page. If possible, direct members to their own profile with all the necessary fields already filled in.

Electronic forms are cheaper and easier for your organization because they avoid the hassle of processing a check and manually entering data into your membership software, but you want to allow your members to send in a paper form if they wish to do so.

The easier you make it for your members to renew, the more members will follow through.

Provide members with ways to renew straight from your membership renewal letter.

Include renewal materials in your membership renewal letters.

Our Membership Renewal Letter Sample

You’ll find a copy of the renewal form attached, filled out with the information you provided at the time of your last renewal. Please update any outdated information, then sign, date, and send to our P.O. box or deliver by hand to the City Art Museum membership office.

If you prefer an online application, use this unique URL that will bring you to an electronic version of the form, filled out especially for you: cityartmuseum.com/members-renewXXX

We accept cash, checks, and most major credit cards.

Emphasize membership benefits in your membership renewal letters.

Emphasize Benefits

To encourage your members to renew, you need to show them what they will miss out on if they don’t. You use the same strategy at the beginning of their membership, emphasizing the benefits of your program during new member onboarding to get your members excited about their new community.

Feature a bulleted list of membership benefits prominently on your membership renewal letter. The harder it is to miss, the better.

Be sure to tell your members exactly what they can do as a member instead of just listing activities or objects. For example:

  • As a member, you get special access to new programs!
  • Members like you can take advantage of 20% off every online purchase!

Is more enticing than:

  • Special access to new programs!
  • 20% off online purchases!

Use your membership renewal letters to remind your members of the benefits they miss out on if they don’t renew.

Your membership renewal letters should include a list of membership benefits.

Our Membership Renewal Letter Sample

This year, we have some returning and some brand new benefits to offer our amazing City Art Museum members:

  • You receive an invitation to members-only events, like our annual Evening at the Museum Gala and our Breakfast with the Botticelli summer kick-off party.
  • You can register early for our children’s summer programs, which sell out every year.
  • You always get 15% off at the gift shop, onsite and online.
  • NEW: You and a friend get a sneak peek at our newest exhibitions a full week before they open to the public!
  • NEW: You get free stickers and car magnets at the admissions desk when you show your mobile membership card!
Offer incentives for early renewal in your membership renewal letters.

Offer Incentives

You can encourage membership renewal if you offer special incentives to anyone who renews early, upgrades their membership, or gifts a membership when they renew.

Some common and effective incentives for renewal are:

  • Discounts.
  • Branded merchandise.
  • Invitations to special events.

Be careful with this strategy — many of your members won’t need any special incentives to renew. You might miss out on revenue by offering too many discounts.

Offering early renewal incentives in your membership renewal letter will encourage members to send in materials sooner.

Use your membership renewal letter to offer incentives for early renewal.

Our Membership Renewal Letter Sample

P.S. If you renew in the next 15 days, we’ll mail you a free City Art Museum tote bag! Don’t wait until June 30 to submit your application online or by mail!

Keep the focus on your members in your membership renewal letters.

Focus on Members

Membership renewal letters are all about your members, not your organization. It’s not a great idea to place too much emphasis on your organization’s history, revenue, and programs when trying to encourage a member to support you. They joined to support your mission and reap benefits.

Instead, focus on:

  • A few highlights of your successes, to lend your organization credibility.
  • The community feeling that comes along with memberships.
  • Statistics about how many members are currently participating in your program.

Use fewer statistics and more language about the benefits of being a part of the member community.

In your membership renewal letters, encourage members to see themselves as part of a community.

Our Membership Renewal Letter Sample

Thank you for your continued support. We couldn’t provide our amazing cultural and educational programs to our community without your loyalty! Our membership program is only as strong as its members, and you help make it the strongest it’s ever been.

MANAGING MEMBERSHIP RENEWAL LETTERS WITH INTEGRATED SOFTWARE

Communicate Directly

Communicate directly with segments of members (e.g., lapsed, first-time, long-term, high, gifted membership recipients) without exporting email addresses to a third-party communications manager.

Automate Emails

Schedule emails to automatically send a certain period of time before a membership expiration date, and to resend at a certain frequency. Program expiration notifications and welcome messages as well.

Personalize Messages

Automate a certain degree of personalization, such as preferred name, by connecting communications to member profiles. Easily include more specific information, such as events attended, with quick access to reports.

Highlight Benefits

Emphasize benefits that your integrated software allows you to provide, including automatic discounts at checkout, the ability to gift memberships, print-at-home and mobile membership cards, and priority registration for events.

Modify Templates

Create professional-looking templates, without any coding or design experience, through easy-to-use interfaces. Save templates for future use in other campaigns, and save multiple versions for different types of recipients.

Process Payments

Process payments through your membership software, both online and offline, through an integration with the payment processor of your choice. Allow gift cards and recurring payments, as well as refund processing.

Track membership renewal automatically in Doubleknot’s member profiles:

Track relevant information, including renewal fee payments, with Doubleknot member profiles.

DOUBLEKNOT’S MEMBERSHIP MANAGEMENT SOLUTION

Take a look at how two of our partners have integrated membership solutions into their operations:

The Nevada Northern Railway Museum implemented Doubleknot's museum software solution to streamline sales and membership.

Nevada Northern Railway Museum

At the Nevada Northern Railway Museum, visitors can buy tickets, book reservations, and purchase merchandise online at their web site and in person at POS stations. The museum needed a way to ensure that programs couldn’t be overbooked, merchandise was kept in stock, and members automatically received the discounts they deserve.

After implementing Doubleknot’s software, the museum streamlined online and on-site sales for both staff and visitors. Every sale is recorded in the database, and members receive their benefits automatically, even if they purchase the membership at the same time.

Indian Creek Nature Center went digital with Doubleknot museum membership software.

Indian Creek Nature Center

When the Indian Creek Nature Center opened a new 12,000-square-foot, multi-use educational space in 2016, the staff was still writing gift shop receipts by hand. The executive director knew that a data-driven integrated solution would streamline purchases and improve reporting.

The Indian Creek Nature Center chose Doubleknot’s online, POS and mobile solutions for registrations, memberships, and merchandise sales. As a result, the Nature Center enjoys improvements in event registration, constituent management, and walk-up sales as well as complete data for reporting and analytics.

ADDITIONAL MEMBERSHIP RENEWAL LETTERS RESOURCES

Member Engagement Guide

Use membership renewal letters in your member engagement guide.

When renewal time rolls around, members who feel valued and engaged are most likely to renew.

Read our guide to membership engagement for expert tips to engage your members.

Welcoming New Members

Welcome your members well so they're more receptive when your membership renewal letters arrive!

An excellent member onboarding program sets the stage for an easy membership renewal process.

Make sure your museum welcomes its new members with style!

Museum Membership Guide

Work your membership renewal letters into your overall museum membership program operations.

The better your membership program is, the more inclined your members will be to renew.

Check out our ultimate guide to museum memberships to rejuvenate your program!