13 Membership Drive Ideas for Events & More (Plus How to Run a Campaign!)

If you run a membership organization, you know how important it is to engage and retain your members. After all, members are the lifeblood of your organization: they support your organization’s mission, attend events, and form your community! 

But as your organization evolves, you’ll inevitably find yourself asking the big question: How do I grow my membership base? There are many strategies for attracting new members over time, but if you want to see a boost ASAP, the best thing you can do is start brainstorming membership drive ideas!

Ready to launch your membership campaign, but wondering where to start? We’ve got you covered with membership drive examples, marketing tips, and the event tech to make it all a breeze.

What is a Membership Drive?

A membership drive is a targeted campaign that’s designed to bring in new members to your organization! Membership recruitment campaigns are most often run by associations, clubs, and nonprofits who want to broaden their reach and power up their dues-based revenue.

No matter which membership drive ideas you lead with, a huge part of these campaigns comes down to marketing! Successful drives highlight the value of your organization’s benefits and services across all platforms and inspire people to get involved.

What are the best times to host a membership drive? You can run focused membership drive campaigns:

  • As an annual end-of-year event
  • To celebrate your organization’s milestone events and anniversaries
  • Whenever a new program kicks off
  • Any season or date that’s relevant to your mission or organization

Additionally, you could hold a membership drive to target specific demographics (hello, Gen Z!).

A membership drive will encourage new members to join all at once and tap into your existing membership base to reach fresh audiences. No matter what kind of organization you run, a membership drive can be tailored to fit your needs and messaging. And if you’ve got an upcoming event, that’s the perfect time to start recruiting new members. 

How Do I Create a Membership Drive?

Membership drives work best when you’ve got a solid strategy in place. Here’s how to organize and execute your campaign in 9 simple steps!

A graphic overview of the 9 steps for creating a membership drive, as outlined below.

Step 1: Assemble your team for brainstorming

A membership recruitment campaign is meant to reach a whole bunch of people, so it doesn’t make sense for one person to do the heavy lifting alone. As you prepare to brainstorm membership drive ideas, set up a meeting with your:

  • Marketing lead
  • Fundraising expert
  • Volunteers
  • Board of directors

Most crucially, get some perspectives of people who spend the most time in direct communication with members. These folks will have the clearest idea of what members have raved about in the past, which makes for a great foundation.

Step 2: Assess your current membership program

Before you send out invitations to your membership program, take some time to review the value you’re currently bringing to the table.

Are your benefits unique? Are they relevant to your mission or industry? Do they actively engage your current members?

If you’re finding that your benefits could use a refresh, ask yourself: what can you offer in a membership that competitors can’t? Better yet, survey your current members to ask what you could be doing better!

Giving your membership program a facelift can go a long way toward enticing new members during your drive.

Step 3: Set SMART goals with clear KPIs

Chances are, you’ve heard of SMART Goals before—and if you haven’t, they’re about to be your new best friend.

The SMART Goal system helps you build goals that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Setting ambitious but attainable goals builds morale for your team and helps flesh out your campaign strategy. From there, all you need are clear KPIs to stick to so you can measure your progress and stay focused along the way.

Step 4: Budget!

It’s easy to go overboard when the membership drive ideas start flowing—who doesn’t like to plan an awesome campaign? A budget won’t just give you healthy restraints to work within, it’ll also make sure the cost of bringing on new members doesn’t end up canceling out the influx of new dues.

Step 5: Create your workback plan

The best membership campaigns utilize several different streams (social media, email, events, etc.). With multiple tasks being worked on at all times, it’s essential to keep your deadlines in order—and a workback plan will help you pace yourself!

Work backward from the day of your campaign’s launch to assign deadlines, and then put together a spreadsheet with:

  • The name of each ask
  • The due date
  • Its current state (not started, in progress, awaiting review, complete)
  • The project lead
  • Notes

This can also be done using project management software like Asana! Speaking of…

Step 6: Pick the right software

The right software makes all the difference when it comes to automating and streamlining your tasks. Instead of spending time adjusting cells in Excel, you can put more energy into the real connections you want to form with your prospective members.

Try using software like:

  • Member management software to process dues payments, create membership registration forms, upload member information in a database, and more.
  • Event management software to level up your membership drive events with mobile event apps, live and virtual event support, live polling and gamification tools, multi-event management tools, and more.
  • Project management software to streamline internal communication, set deadlines, track outcomes, and more.
  • Fundraising software to transform donors into members, collect your funds in one place, and share your campaigns far and wide.

Step 7: Market, market, market!

If your goal is to increase your membership base, then you need to make it easy for prospective members to get to know your organization.

Spread the word about your membership drive via:

  • Social media platforms
  • Email marketing campaigns
  • Special membership campaign events
  • Partnerships with local businesses and influencers
  • Spotlights on your local radio, TV, and newspaper
  • Paid online ads 
  • And more!

You can’t over-market your event, but be sure you have a targeted audience and specific goals in mind for your campaign. Focused efforts are key to driving conversion!

Step 8: Execute your membership drive

Once you’ve got your plans in place, all that’s left is to kick off!

We recommend preparing a checklist for the night before that includes:

  • Key players and organizers
  • A volunteer list
  • Resources and FAQs
  • Any items you might need
  • Deadlines and scheduling
  • Who to contact in case of uncertainty or emergency
  • Any other crucial guiding information

Step 9: Measure your success

If your membership drive takes the form of a one-day event, gather your data from the marketing efforts leading up to the day, and then the day itself (registrations vs attendees, social media impressions, etc.).

If your membership campaign is ongoing, have regular check-ins along the way to determine if there’s anywhere you’d like to pivot. For example, if you see your social media posts aren’t taking off, you can always try rescheduling them to that prime Monday 9 a.m. PST spot!

7 Membership Drive Ideas to Broaden Your Reach

Now that you know how to create a membership campaign, you might be asking: How do I attract people to join my membership program? Well, there’s an idea out there to suit every organization!

Try one—or several—of the membership drive ideas below to get started, with actual membership drive examples included.

A graphic with an overview of the 7 membership drives ideas listed below.

Launch a referral program

Nothing retains members quite like acts of member appreciation. A referral program hits two birds with one stone by giving current members a thank-you perk and inviting new members in through a channel they trust. After all, 84% of people trust recommendations from people they know most!

Plus, your membership base is your community. Encouraging member referrals is a way to build on peoples’ current relationships and grow relationships organically. For example, the White Oaks Resort’s Niagara Fitness Health Club runs a referral contest where each referral gets members closer to winning a high-value prize package. Best of all, the winner is announced at the Club Member Christmas Party, which builds a stronger sense of community.

Run a creative social media campaign or challenge

These days, social media campaigns are a given when it comes to marketing—so the best way to make a splash is to create something that stands out! 

For your next membership drive, try:

  • Running a fitness challenge to add a spirit of competition
  • Gratitude and acts-of-kindness hashtags to share the love
  • Photo scavenger hunts to encourage participation
  • Including pet or baby photos to make people smile

Some membership drive ideas are about highlighting the value of your resources, which is very important! But getting playful on social media shows off the culture of your organization, which is equally important to making connections.

Host an association business spotlight

If you run an association, your reach is one of your most powerful tools. Spotlight your members on your:

  • Blog posts
  • Podcasts
  • And more

Interviews and thought leadership posts allow prospective members to learn about who they’ll be able to network with if they join your association. At the end of your interviews, have your spotlighted business leaders talk about their favorite parts of your association and encourage people to join!

Offer a free resource

Give prospective members an idea about what your organization has to offer by including a free resource in your membership recruitment campaigns like:

  • An ebook
  • Access to a workshop
  • One free mentoring session
  • Recordings of past webinars
  • An industry report

Once people crack open the resource and see how much it has to offer, they’ll be quicker to jump on membership to your organization. This is also a great opportunity to measure the value of your resource—make note of how many emails convert to downloads and how many downloads convert to memberships!

Have a temporary membership discount

Offering limited-time discounts for new memberships gives you an opportunity to prove that your member benefits are valuable enough to pay the full price. If your organization sells any products or merchandise, you can also offer limited-time discounts to drive membership. For example, at Sage Garden Greenhouses, the first Tuesday of every month is Member’s Appreciation Day—which takes 20% off most items in the store!

Sometimes a brief price drop is enough to make people take the plunge. But the trick to turning these new faces into long-term members comes down to your onboarding process. So, once your new members are confirmed, be sure to:

  • Send a welcome email
  • Provide an introductory package
  • Reach out with mentorship opportunities
  • Invite members to an event
  • Engage, engage, engage!

Discounted services from partner organizations

The power of referrals comes down to word of mouth—and that’s equally valuable from partner organizations and influencers! The chance to receive a solid discount might just be the final push people need to try out what your organization has to offer.

The best partner discounts are ones that are relevant to your organization. For example, the Ontario College of Teachers partners with Chalkboard Plus, a national perks program designed specifically for schools and educators.

Host a volunteer opportunity

The best way for people to get an idea of the culture of your organization and its impact is to give them a chance to get involved. April is National Volunteer Month, which makes it a great opportunity to lean into your volunteer efforts. Adding on a membership discount or perk as a thank you to these volunteers is another strategy you can use to drive conversion!

6 Reliable Membership Drive Events

Events are a fantastic source of non-dues revenue—but if you incorporate them into your membership drive ideas, you can transform admission fees into member dues! Here are some membership campaign ideas that convert event attendance into ongoing membership.

Annual conference

For many organizations (especially associations!), running a solid annual conference is the backbone of what drives membership. The chance to network, stay up to date with industry news, and make lasting memories is what turns attendees into lifetime members.

Take the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Association (SFWA) as an example. They host the Nebula Conference, which is home to the prestigious Nebula Awards. When aspiring writers attend a conference that offers an inspiring creative experience, they’ll be more eager to apply to become members as they become eligible.

Open networking event

When it comes to membership drive ideas, networking events offer quick insight into what your membership community looks like. According to the Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, 57% of people join associations in order to network with peers.

Take your free networking event to the next level by:

  • Inviting inspiring long-term members
  • Using an event networking app
  • Gamifying your session and using live polls
  • Setting up a social media wall

Psst–all of this can be made simple with event management software like EventMobi. Chat with us to learn more!

Lunch or happy hour

A casual drink or meal offers a more relaxed atmosphere for prospective members to connect. Humans are social creatures and benefit from having a sense of community. While a shared hobby, interest, or career might be what brings your members together, forming personal connections will be what keeps them together.

Charitable event

Giving prospective members the opportunity to be a part of something meaningful creates positive memories and can inspire them to stick around.

Explore membership drive ideas like:

  • Walkathons or Fun Runs
  • Charity auctions
  • Community service days
  • Fundraising galas
  • Food drives
  • Charity golf tournaments

If any of these events have entry fees, advertise a discounted member price—and potentially one additional perk for new members!

If you’re a charitable organization, don’t forget to look into event management software for nonprofits. These tools can help streamline the process of turning attendees into members.


Does your organization specialize in offering certain classes, certificates, or professional development opportunities? A free workshop gives prospective members an up-close look at the quality of your benefits. It’s important to share how awesome your perks are, but it’s most effective when people can see for themselves!

Guest speaker series

Looking for membership campaign ideas that’ll let you really show off your connections? Hosting special talks with event speakers highlights the value of membership to potential members, especially those who are early in their careers.

Curious about who people might want to see? Survey current members for a list of names so you can identify any trends!

Power Up Your Membership Campaign with Event Management Software

It’s no secret that events are the key to turning membership campaign ideas into fantastic memories. Want to simplify your behind-the-scenes work and create the best attendee experience possible? Then it’s time to explore event management software!

Whether you’re running an in person, virtual, or hybrid event, EventMobi’s event management software can amplify your membership drive with:

Want to make your membership drive event one to remember? Chat with our team today!

Build a Thriving Community with These Membership Drive Ideas

Growing your membership base ultimately comes down to two things: expressing the value of your membership program and making genuine connections. By hosting fresh and engaging membership drives, your community will thrive for years to come.

Recommended Resource: Wondering how to keep your attendees engaged after your event? 🤝 Learn how to create an event community that converts into more new memberships!