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Membership Peer Community

Member recruitment and retention are vital to the success of a philanthropy-serving organizations. Here, you will find sample documents, tips, and tools designed to help your regional association 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
  • In-person meeting at Forum’s Annual Conference

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),


Renee Catacalos, Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders

Renee Brooks Catacalos joined SAFSF in 2019 with decades of experience in association management, communications, and food systems and sustainable agriculture work. In her current position, she is focused on strengthening outreach to members and the broader philanthropic community, creating opportunities for member engagement and benefit, leveraging new resource partnerships, and positioning SAFSF as the leading voice for sustainable agriculture and food systems philanthropy. 

Renee is a former Foreign Service officer, having served tours in Mexico City, Mexico and Istanbul, Turkey. She has served in various communications, management and business development capacities with the Houston Association of Realtors, the Houston International Protocol Alliance, VOLLMER Public Relations, Future Harvest – Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, and the American Institute of Architects, Potomac Valley Chapter. Additionally, Renee was publisher and editor of Edible Chesapeake magazine from 2006-2009 and has served on the boards of ECO City Farms, FRESHFARM Markets, and the Neighborhood Design Center. She is currently on the Steering Team of the Chesapeake Foodshed Network (CFN). Her first book, The Chesapeake Table: Your Guide to Eating Local, was published in October 2018 by Johns Hopkins University Press.

Renee is a graduate of the University of Virginia and works remotely from her home in University Park, Maryland, when she is not traveling to meet with funders across the country. 

Kristen Cullen, Minnesota Council on Foundations

Kristen brings experience from several roles in philanthropy. She most recently worked as the Grantmaking and Evaluation Manager at the Minneapolis Jewish Federation. She also has extensive experience working with Minnesota-based family foundations including Carolyn Foundation and HRK. Kristin will draw on this experience to engage members throughout Minnesota in ways that they find meaningful and valuable, and will contribute to the delivery of excellent programming, resources and connections to all foundation types. 

Kristen has three teenage daughters and lives in Minneapolis. If you don’t think that keeps her on her toes, all the cross country road trips that include hiking up mountains and exploring cities certainly does! In addition to this, Kristen can be found enjoying yoga, reading, and attending live music concerts. Not only does Kristen keep stats on our MCF members, she also keeps stats at Minnesota Twins games! She hopes to tour the country to watch the Twins at all the outdoor stadiums.



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 regional 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 regional associations 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.

Welcome Letter to New Members
A collection of sample welcome letters sent by regional associations to new members.

New Member Cultivation Steps
Check out the steps Delaware Valley Grantmakers takes to cultivate new members.

Sample Membership Orientation Webinar
Recording of a orientation webinar for members of Connecticut Council for Philanthropy to to get acquainted or reacquainted with all that's avaialble to members. The presentation includes a guided tour of the organization's website.




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 compilation of RA dues structures for private foundations separated by region and color coded for certain levels of giving.
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.