Whether you’re starting a brand new membership association or are looking to level up your existing organization, focusing on your membership website is a great place to start. An eye-catching, user-friendly, resource-packed site can serve as an online hub for your members—and it might even help you attract some new ones.
In this article, we’ll use some real examples from actual Neon One clients to cover 12 best practices (plus one bonus practice) that your organization can incorporate into your own membership site. That’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get started.
Meet Our Featured Neon One Clients
Before we get into the nitty gritty, we wanted to shout out the three Neon One clients that we’ll be featuring here.
All of them have built their membership website using the Neon Websites platform, and all three of them also use Neon CRM for Associations as their membership management solution.
Financial Women’s Association (FWA)
Financial Women’s Association (FWA) is a nonprofit association that promotes the professional development and advancement of all women in the financial sector through education, mentorship, scholarships, networking, and alliances across the financial community.
NAFDMA is a membership-based nonprofit trade association dedicated to advancing the farm direct marketing and agritourism industries. NAFDMA facilitates events, resources, communications, and peer-to-peer exchanges that bring together new relationships and opportunities.
Threshold Foundation is a multi-generational membership organization united by their commitment to create a just, joyful, and generative world through heart-centered philanthropy and community-building.
12 Best Practices for Nonprofit Membership Websites
Creating an effective website for a membership-focused nonprofit is crucial for engaging and retaining members. But it can also help you attract new members by showcasing all the great work your association is doing as well as the benefits of membership.
While the specifics of your site will be unique to your organization, there are still plenty of best practices that all membership websites should follow. They’ll be an important way to create an awesome user experience for members and prospects alike.
Here are 12 membership website best practices you should incorporate into your site today!
1. Offer a Clear Value Proposition
Use your website’s homepage to clearly communicate your organization’s mission, goals, and the benefits of membership on the homepage.
Not only will this content help interest prospective members, but explaining membership benefits could also remind current members of certain perks they’d overlooked.
On the FWA’s website, they clearly and concisely lay out the benefits of joining their association. Then they offer two calls to action: submitting an application or learning more information.
2. Employ a User-Friendly Design
Ensure that your website employs a clean and intuitive design that is easy to navigate.
When creating your site, map out your primary navigation (aka your site’s top menu) in a way that organizes information logically within your nested menu structure. Make it easy for users to find what they’re looking for!
With so much web traffic coming from mobile devices, you’ll want your site to be mobile-friendly, too. This means that your site displays mobile-responsive versions of your pages to people visiting from their phones or tablets.
Lastly, don’t forget about accessibility! That’s a really important topic that’s far too big to cover in a listicle like this one. For a full deep dive into nonprofit website accessibility, check out the post below:
3. Use Compelling Visuals
Don’t just rely on words to tell your nonprofit’s story. Use high-quality images, videos, and graphics to convey your organization’s impact and showcase the community.
Visual elements can significantly enhance the user experience and tell a compelling story. The types of images you use (photos, illustrations, graphics, etc.) is a critical component of your nonprofit’s brand identity.
On this page of their website that lays out their investing philosophy, the Threshold Foundation has included this striking image that emphasizes the wide ranging root structure of this impressive tree, an apt metaphor for their approach towards restorative, values-aligned investing.
4. Membership Information
Provide comprehensive information about your membership options, benefits, and how to join. Include a clear call to action (CTA) for website visitors to become members, and make the signup process straightforward.
This page on the NAFDMA website succinctly lays out the two membership levels the group offers, what each level includes, and invites visitors to pick one and sign up!
5. A Membership Application Form
Once a prospective member has decided that they want to join, you should have a custom-built application form at the ready that will guide them seamlessly through the signup process.
Here’s the form that the FWA provides to new members when they sign up. This form, created in Neon CRM and embedded on their website, uses a multi-step design that makes the whole process feel far simpler and improves completion rates.
There’s actually a whole bunch of best practices that you should incorporate when designing a membership form. But we don’t want to keep you here all day, so here’s a blog post on membership application form best practices that you can check out later:
6. Integrate Your Website and CRM
Integrating your website with nonprofit CRM will help you streamline member management, track interactions, and provide a more enjoyable user experience for your members and your staff.
With an integrated website and CRM, you can easily embed forms into your site, with information flowing directly from those forms back into your member database.
Neon CRM for Associations and Neon Websites offer a virtually seamless integration that simply can’t be beat. To learn more about how the two systems work together to support your organization, join one of our Neon CRM group demos!
7. Add Member Resources
Create a dedicated members-only section of your website with resources, exclusive content, and tools. This enhances the value of membership and encourages ongoing engagement.
In this section of the NAFDMA homepage, they provide links to an online store and industry directory that all visitors can access. But to view the materials in the education center, you have to be a member!
Neon Websites allows you to easily create a members-only portion of your site that members must enter their credentials to access. Here’s the login page for the Threshold Foundation’s membership site:
Bonus Tip: Try Member Recognition
If you’re looking for new ways to engage your existing membership base, why not choose to publicly recognize and celebrate individual members?
Featuring member success stories and testimonials in your newsletter or adding a member spotlight section to your blog that highlights your members’ contributions will build a sense of connection to your nonprofit.
Member spotlights are a great opportunity to highlight ways that your members can get involved more directly in your mission and they’ll help you keep your website updated with fresh content—more on that below!
8. Regularly Update Your Site Content
Keep your website content fresh and relevant by regularly updating your site’s pages. And while event listings can be a good source of fresh website content, the very best thing you can do is maintain an active blog.
With a blog, you can produce a steady stream of news, thought leadership and commentaries, event spotlights, volunteering opportunities, etc. that will keep your audiences engaged and your website buzzing with activity.
A frequently updated website not only demonstrates an active and vibrant organization to both existing and prospective members, it also will also help your performance with search engines.
Google, Bing, and other search engines give additional weight to sites that are regularly updated with original (i.e. not copy/pasted from old pages) content.
FWA keeps their website updated with a running list of member events as well as professional resources like resume writing and a job board and an active blog with frequent posts on topics relevant to their members.
9. Prioritize SEO Optimization
In the previous section, we mentioned the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) benefits of regularly updating your website content. That’s only one of the many, many steps that you can take to optimize your website for search engines
Here are three SEO keys to focus on:
- Researching keywords and topics that are highly relevant to your members and then using those keywords and topics as you craft your site’s pages and blog posts.
- Creating high quality, user-friendly content with simple language, short paragraphs and sections, scannable elements like bullet point lists, and images.
- Ensure your site loads quickly by compressing your images, hosting videos on a third-party platform, and monitoring your Core Web Vitals.
Adhering to SEO best practices will improve your nonprofit’s online presence by making your site more easily discoverable to people interested in your work.
Want to learn more about SEO for nonprofits? Check out this blog post.
10. Include Community Building Features
Implement features such as forums, discussion boards, or social media integration to foster community engagement. Encourage members to connect with each other and share their experiences.
The only downside with features like this is that successful communities often reach a scale at which they require moderation. Keep an eye out for the growth of these communities with an eye towards members who would make for good volunteer mods.
11. Create Personalized Member Experiences
Implement personalization features that tailor content based on a member’s location, preferences, or history with the organization. This enhances user engagement and provides a more customized experience.
Neon Websites includes a bunch of cool features that support personalization. Learn more about how website personalization can help your nonprofit stand out in this article!
12. Conduct a Regular Analytics Review
Utilize website analytics tools to monitor user behavior, track key performance indicators, and gather insights into the effectiveness of your website. Regularly review analytics to make informed decisions for improvements.
Regularly updating your website based on user feedback and changing organizational needs will help you stay focused on delivering for your members.
Why Neon CRM & Neon Websites Are a Perfect Match
Building a great membership website for your association should be a cornerstone of your organizational strategy. A site that incorporates all the best practices we laid out in this post will help you acquire new members and retain existing ones. What more could you ask for?
But all nonprofit tech solutions are only as effective as your ability to manage them. That’s why pairing Neon CRM for Associations with Neon Websites can be such a game changer for nonprofits like yours: It helps you manage your systems, your data, and your campaigns more effectively—saving you time, energy, and money.
But don’t take our word for it. To see how Neon CRM and Neon Websites can work together to support your nonprofit, request a demo today!
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