When it comes to member renewals at your club, getting the messaging right can make all the difference.
Around 90% of clubs have their renewals in January, February and March. This makes winter a crucial time for planning how your club can encourage members to re-join.
Annual payments offer an opportunity to ‘sell’ your club and the benefits that membership offers. During the renewal window, you can look ahead to the coming year giving members a preview of what’s to come.
Be sure to include relevant key words to promote a positive image, e.g. welcoming, friendly, community, relaxing, competitive, quality, value, safe, fun.
Highlight the diversity of on-water and onshore activities on offer so you are not simply inviting people to renew membership of the ‘sailing club’.
A simple and effective way to share information such as club highlights, achievements and events - your members don’t have time to read a long letter!
Use a programme such as PowerPoint to create a collage of pictures, which saved as a jpeg can be used in your comms or social media – remember to include your fantastic facilities and a full range of members, ages and activities for maximum appeal.
Pack a punch with a few essential facts. For example: 1 club, 200 acres of water, 300 members, 100 RYA Training course participants, 25 OnBoard sessions, 10 club boats, 1 national champion, 250 races, 5 new paddleboards, 1 epic Christmas party!
Include whether your club is RYA Affiliated, an RYA Training Centre, or British Youth Sailing (BYS), OnBoard or Sailability recognised. Add logos to remind members what aspects of your club make it stand out as a centre of excellence.
A powerful and persuasive tool, ask a handful of members to share a sentence or two about why they enjoy the club and include their picture and quotes in your comms.
Give members lots of reasons to stay engaged now and a teaser of what will be available next year if they renew.
Social media, emails and your website may not reach everyone so mix it up with traditional methods such as posters, printed newsletters, snail mail, even a phone call.
Remember to say thank you to all of your members and volunteers and look forward to seeing them again next year…
If a member doesn’t renew, don’t give up: ask if you can stay in touch with club news and offers. Winning back a lapsed member is easier than recruiting a new one!
If your club would like any support with developing its winter activities and member engagement programme, please get in touch with your Regional or Home Country Development Officer, and if your club has any good ideas which we’ve missed, let us know so we can share them!
At Draycote Water Sailing Club, the annual date for renewals falls on 1st April, with dedicated communications inspiring members to re-join ahead of the new season.
From mid-February onwards the club’s fortnightly e-newsletters highlight that renewals are coming up, alongside details about future events, the benefits of membership and who to contact for anyone needing support to navigate the payment process. After the deadline, the club then chases outstanding memberships into May with friendly “let us know if we can help” reminders.
Social media posts in club Facebook and WhatsApp groups, plus posters and ‘table toppers’ around the clubhouse, likewise support the key messaging around renewals.
The club also relaunched its print and online publication, Draycote Unshackled, to coincide with renewals. Content includes updates about investment in facilities and equipment, alongside lively reports from members, fleets and groups such as the junior and women’s sections, and ‘adverts’ for the many activities members can enjoy, including paddleboarding, social events and racing.
Jeremy Atkins, Rear Commodore Sailing and Marketing Lead, explains: “It’s important not to take renewals for granted. We reintroduced Draycote Unshackled deliberately at membership renewal time to remind the members of what a wonderful deal they get and all the activities they can participate in, because renewals are all about participation. If you don’t participate then membership is expensive, but if you do then it’s incredibly good value for money.
“The more you can encourage people to participate and show them the different ways they can do so the better, which isn’t just about racing. Most of our committee members are racing sailors but the majority of our members don’t race, so we ensure people know they can participate in other ways, for example on a training course, windsurfing or paddleboarding, or through activities such as social sailing or youth and junior sessions, or the Draycote Academy for aspiring young sailors.
“It’s essential to think about what different types of members want and to ensure members know about the variety of activities on offer. It’s all about what an individual member does, or could, get out of the club - and reminding them so they want to renew again for another year.”
A good starting point for encouraging renewals is to ensure your club has a vibrant programme of activities and events all year round to keep members engaged throughout the colder months as well, including those who are not racing sailors.
Check out our guide to keeping your members inspired through the chilly season!