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Membership Peer Community

Member recruitment and retention are vital to the success of a philanthropy-serving organization (PSO). Here, you will find sample documents, tips, and tools designed to help your PSO acquire, engage, and renew grantmaker members. 

If you have resources to share, please share them online or by emailing Courtney Moore.

Membership Peer Community

The Membership Peer Community is for those who support membership recruitment and retention efforts at their PSO, manage member benefits, onboard new member organizations and staff/trustees, and manage their organization’s membership database.

  • Membership Listserv ( You must be a member of the Forum & this Peer Community to post to this list.
  • Three round-robin calls per year
  •  Forum’s Annual Conference virtual session

Interested in joining this Peer Community? Submit your email address on the form at the bottom of the Our Networks page

Forum Staff Lead: Courtney Moore, (202-888-7428)


Danielle Crystal, Philanthropy Northwest

Danielle relocated to Seattle after living in Boston, where she worked at the Boston Public Schools as deputy chief of staff. While there, she was involved in leveraging community and private partnerships to improve educational outcomes and expand educational opportunities for Boston Public School’s students. Danielle has significant experience in the private and nonprofit sector, and thrives in diverse environments. She enjoys getting to know people, particularly those who are also working to improve communities through thoughtful decision-making and collective impact, and loves getting to know our members and learning more about the Pacific Northwest.

Danielle has a master’s degree in higher education administration with a focus on philanthropy, advancement and development from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. Danielle lives in Seattle with her husband, Jeff, and their two children. 

Lana Jacobus, Grantmakers In Health

Lana Jacobus is the Communications and Development Specialist at Grantmakers In Health (GIH), responsible for supporting fundraising and communication initiatives. Prior to joining GIH, Ms. Jacobus handled external communications for a state government agency and nonprofit organizations. She previously served as Community Relations Coordinator at the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing where she also managed donor relations and the donor database. Ms. Jacobus holds a bachelor’s degree in general biology from the University of Washington.



Membership Peer Community Benchmarking Tool

A benchmarking tool around membership for PSOs. As a google sheet, we encourage all PSOs to add your organization to the spreadsheet or update your information as needed. Topics captured in the tool include:

  • Dues Rates/Levels
  • Membership Categories
  • Dues Renewal Processes

Access the Membership Peer Community Benchmarking Tool


As membership organizations, philanthropy-serving organizations are interested in recruiting new members and are always looking for new effective ways to do so. There are a wide range of tools to use and develop to improve recruitment efforts. The best recruitment strategies combine multiple tools including websites and emails, invitation letters, and values of membership documents

Membership Applications
A collection of membership application templates.

Member Recruitment Calls or Visits
Many organizations work with their staff and/or membership committee to schedule calls or in-person visits with prospecitve members to find out more about the potenial member, explain the value of membership, review the benefits of membership, discuss any past or current engagement opportunities, etc. 

Working with Membership Committees
To get a better sense of how other organizations use their membership committees, CNJG selected a few similiar-sized regional philanthropy-serving organizations to interview. A recap of those conversations is now avialable. 

Non-member Surveys
Non-member surveys can help your organization gather important information about underserved audiences and pique interest in your organization.

Communicating the Value of Membership
Many PSOs create value of membership documents to help showcase what organizations will get out of becoming a member. The techniques and tactics vary across the network.

Member Recruitment Letters
A collection of sample member recruitment letters.

Member Recruitment Plans
A collection of member recruitment plans.

Member Benefits Lists
A collection of member benefits.

Membership Criteria
Each PSO sets its own membership criteria. See what types of organizations are eligible for membership at other regional associations across the country.

Membership Development Plan
Sample development plan for membership recruitment and retention compiled from examples from across the Network. Items highlighted in yellow were added based on suggestions made during a 2013 conference session.

Links to Membership Information, Eligibility, and Applications
A compilation of links to membership information, member eligibility, and membership applications on each regional philanthropy association's website.

Foundation Type Descriptions
Definitions of some of the common foundation types eligible for membership.


Once new members have been recruited, they now have to be welcomed into the PSO's network. This is a time to introduce them to your organization and remind them of the benefits they will now receive as a member. All new members should receive a welcome letter and some PSOs will also send a welcome packet, set up a "New Member Orientation" meeting, conduct a new member survey, or pair up old and new members at events.

Feedback on onboarding new members to PSO
Listserv compilation about what steps PSOs are taking to onboard new members.

Welcome Letters, Packets and Email Series to New Members
A collection of sample welcome letters, packets, or emals sent by philanthropy-serving organizations to new members or new staff at existing members.

New Member Orientation Webinars & Meetings
A collection of sample agendas, slides and recordings for orientation webinars or meetings by philanthropy-serving organizations for new members or new staff at existing members.



Just as important as recruiting new members is keeping the members you already have. Renewal time provides a great opportunity to reintroduce your philanthropy-serving organization to your members by reviewing member benefits and accomplishments of the past year. Many PSOs also send out a thank you letter to all who decide to renew their membership. For those organizations who decide not to renew their membership, an exit survey may prove beneficial to gain a better understanding of why and what improvements you as a PSO can make.

Renewal Invoices Applications
Sample membership renewal applications, forms, and invoices from philanthropy-serving organizations.

Membership Development Plan
Sample development plan for membership recruitment and retention at regional associations compiled from examples from across the Network. Items highlighted in yellow were added based on suggestions made during a 2013 conference session.

Communicating How to Be Engaged
Sample communications from philanthropy-serving organizations with members about how they can better engage with the organization and get the most out of their membership.

Membership Surveys
Membership surveys can help determine your members' perception of your organization, generate programming ideas, and yield a clearer picture of who you are serving. These sample surveys have been developed and implemented across the network.

Exit Surveys
A collection of exit surveys conducted by regional associations when a member fails to renew their membership.

Member Check-In/Thank You Calls
Many organizations work with their staff and/or membership committee to schedule calls or in-person visits with current members to thank them for their membership, review the benefits of membership, discuss past and current engagement opportunities, get feedback, etc. 

Member Engagement Tracking & Reporting
Many philanthropy-serving organizations are tracking and reporting how they are engaging with their members over time. Some have built internal profiles for members while others have created engagement scores. 

Membership Dues

Membership dues are an important factor in a membership organization's budget. Look through sample dues structures and procedures for changing dues structures.
A google doc compilation from different philanthropy-serving organizations (PSOs) on how they handle membership for philanthropy advisors/consultants or other affiliate memberships including eligibility criteria and dues information.
A collection of sample letters developed by regional associations to announce a dues increase.
Resources developed by Philanthropy New York to effectively communicate with their members around a proposed dues increase.
A spreadsheet compiling data on dues increases from ten regional associations.