How Nonprofits Can Engage Members After the New Year’s Surge

How Nonprofits Can Engage Members After the New Year’s Surge

By Sara Perry
Published On Jan 22, 2024

The New Year often brings a surge of new members to your community center, driven by common resolutions like increasing physical activity. While many start with strong intentions, retaining them throughout the year can be challenging. Studies show that only 8% of Americans maintain their New Year’s resolutions year-round, and a staggering 80% falter by February. This trend can significantly affect your organization’s ability to reliably engage members and impact your community if not addressed.

However, with an effective member engagement strategy, you can significantly improve retention rates post-January. With these strategies, you can connect with the right members, enhance retention efforts, and effectively re-engage those who have drifted away.

Keep reading to learn how to transform the initial enthusiasm of New Year’s resolutions into long-term commitment.

Connect With Members Through Your Brand Story

Part of creating a meaningful connection with members is ensuring your organization’s experience aligns with their expectations. To engage members year-round, you need to cultivate relationships that are aligned with your organization’s brand story.

A brand story is more than a narrative; it’s an embodiment of your mission and impact. It allows members to grasp the essence of your organization and trust in its promise. As potential members weigh their options, your brand story becomes a pivotal factor in their decision-making, guiding them to decide if your organization aligns with their goals.

Crafting a compelling brand story for a nonprofit community center involves:

  1. Showcasing personal connections
  1. Maintaining focus on community impact
  1. Representing your mission authentically
  1. Creating meaningful experiences

Your brand story should articulate how your organization addresses the individual needs of your community. Instead of simply promoting services, demonstrate how these services impact your members’ overall well-being and support their health goals in the New year. This approach ensures your message deeply resonates with members who share the same goal. It clearly illustrates how your organization aids members in achieving their aspirations, both personally and within the broader community context.

Engage Members With Thoughtful Communication

As the New Year begins, members are filled with enthusiasm for their health and wellness goals. To sustain this momentum throughout the year, you need to be intentional about how you use each of your communication channels. Emails, text messages, push notifications, and digital marketing are four great ways to ensure members are receiving and engaging with your outreach.


Email marketing, when done right, transforms a marketing blast into a personal journey for each member. To make every email feel like it was crafted for the individual, it’s crucial to segment your contact list and adjust your copy accordingly. This way, every member receives information that’s relevant and appealing to their specific interests. By customizing offerings like new programs, meal plans, discounts for different member segments, and more, you demonstrate a deep understanding of your member’s unique needs.

For nonprofits, it’s also essential to optimize calls-to-action (CTAs) in emails to enhance conversion rates. Test different versions of your email CTAs to see which resonate most with your audience. Use these insights to continually refine your email strategy. Remember, the goal is not just to inform but to inspire action that aligns with your organization’s mission and enhances community engagement.

Text Messages

Text messaging stands out as a highly effective and immediate method for connecting with members. Its remarkable open rate of 98%, coupled with the fact that 83% of texts are read within the first three minutes, positions texting as an extraordinary channel for timely outreach. This makes it an excellent tool for sharing updates about upcoming events and encouraging members to participate in person.

When paired with member segmentation, texting can drive higher registrations rates for your youth programming, classes, and community events. For nonprofits, this means reaching out with purpose, ensuring every message sent contributes to building a stronger, more involved community.

Daxko Engage’s email and text scheduling functionality
Schedule text messages early to ensure they reach members at the right time, and pair with email outreach to maximize engagement.

Push Notifications

Much like texting, push notifications offer a direct line to engage members with content that’s tailored just for them. Utilize these notifications to send timely reminders about upcoming classes or to spark interest with useful resources and tips.

Regular, well-crafted push notifications help ensure that your community center remains a focal point in your members’ daily lives. These reminders not only keep them informed but also reinforce the sense of community and involvement your organization strives to build. By consistently providing value through these notifications, you’re not just reminding members of their commitments; you’re enriching their experience and deepening their connection to your mission. This strategy is especially effective in maintaining ongoing member engagement and fostering a strong, active community.

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing encompasses a broad range of online platforms, including social media, websites, and digital ads. Integrating digital marketing strategies with traditional communication methods like emails, text messages, and push notifications creates a comprehensive outreach plan.

Strategically using social media can amplify the reach of your email campaigns, driving more engagement and participation. Utilize platforms like Facebook and Instagram to share engaging content and foster a strong online community. Tailor social media ads to target specific member segments, highlighting programs and events that align with their interests. This approach increases visibility, encourages interactive engagement, and creates a more personal and responsive dialogue with your community.

Craft digital ads that showcase the unique benefits and experiences your organization offers. By selecting the right keywords and leveraging retargeting techniques, you can capture the attention of potential new members. Digital ads are also great tools for re-engaging those who may have lost touch, bringing them back into the fold of your community’s activities and initiatives.

By strategically combining these digital tactics with your existing communication channels, your organization can create a more connected and vibrant community, keeping members engaged long after the New Year’s surge.

“Digital marketing is the channel that you can turn on as quickly as possible to have a high impact and a very cost-effective channel,” says Nick Lindauer.

Re-Engage Lost Members With Win-Back Campaigns

Not every member will stay after the initial New Year’s rush. Preparing a win-back strategy will help you re-engage lost members and promote greater community impact.

Understand Why They Cancelled

To effectively re-engage members who have decided to leave, you first need to understand the reasons behind their decision to cancel their membership. Are there programs they felt were missing? Could there have been additional support or encouragement that might have persuaded them to stay?

Implementing a digital form during the cancellation process is a strategic way to gather and record their feedback. This approach not only shows that you value their opinions but also provides essential insights into their motivations and experiences. With this information, you can tailor your approach to address their specific concerns, demonstrate your commitment to meeting their needs, and strategically plan your efforts to win them back. This process shows empathy and a willingness to evolve based on member feedback, reinforcing your dedication to community impact and member satisfaction.

Stay Connected

The end of a membership doesn’t have to mean the end of the relationship. After a cancellation, it’s important to continue to engage members with valuable content, reinforcing the ongoing nature of your connection. Rather than concentrating on sales-driven communication, focus on demonstrating that your organization still cares about their goals and well-being.

This approach creates an environment where former members feel valued and recognized, even outside the scope of active membership. By sharing content that is helpful and relevant to their interests, you leave the door open for them to return when they feel ready. It’s about nurturing a sense of community and belonging that transcends membership status. Show that your organization is more than just a service provider – it’s a supportive and enduring part of their journey.

Make It Easy to Return

A seamless and straightforward sign-up process is key in encouraging former members to rejoin. If the process is fraught with frustration or time-consuming steps, it can serve as a significant barrier to their return. To facilitate a smooth transition back, ensure that your registration process is quick, simple, and fully accessible online.

By making it easy for former members to restart their memberships, you greatly increase the likelihood of their return. This approach not only demonstrates your organization’s commitment to user-friendly experiences but also shows an understanding of the modern member’s need for convenience and efficiency. An uncomplicated sign-up process speaks volumes about your organization’s focus on accessibility and member satisfaction, making it an inviting option for those considering a renewed commitment to their health and community involvement.

Create a Welcome Back Program

It’s essential to ensure that returning members feel just as valued and cared for as new ones. When they choose to rejoin, make it a priority to extend a warm and personalized welcome back. Recognize that their motivations and goals might have evolved during their time away. Collaborate with them to set new fitness objectives and assist them in integrating back into the routines and activities of your community center.

Your New Year’s members are a vital part of your community, and it’s important not to let them drift away. By implementing a robust engagement and retention strategy, you can maintain their interest and involvement throughout the entire year. Use these strategies to reinforce the sense of belonging, ensuring that every member (whether new or returning) feels supported and connected to your organization.

Ready to Engage Members Online?

The way you speak to your members matters, especially when you’re communicating digitally. Learn more about how you can cut through the noise and engage members with your website and digital marketing.

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