Researching non-members

non members

The Challenge: Recently, we have received several requests from membership organisations to help them with research on their non-members. Many organisations are familiar with researching their members or lapsed members, but when it comes to non-members or prospects that is a more uncertain area.

Organisations usually have little evidence of what non-members’ wants and needs are, how to communicate with them and what their barriers are to joining. However, membership organisations realise that to help to establish or drive their recruitment strategy, the insight from researching non-members is vital.

The biggest challenge to overcome when conducting non-member research is how to find the sample, the target audience. Usually, organisations can provide their member databases to undertake research, but where can you find contact lists of people who are not members of the organisations and have never been?

The Solution: Sometimes organisations hold data on people who have attended their events, training, exams, purchased journals or contacted them with queries. They all are potential members. Another way to obtain a prospect list is to undertake desk research into the organisation’s area of expertise and purchase the data they require.

RbD have conducted both qualitative and quantitative research projects with non-members. Carefully thought out recruitment is key to the success in this type of research. As non-members may have no link with the organisation, to attract them to take part it is crucial to engage them.

Appropriate language needs to be used to target non-members. When recruiting, clear explanation of the purposes and objectives of the research helps them to understand the importance of their personal input and benefits for doing it. Another thing that proved useful, when recruiting non-members, is offering some form of incentive. As no direct relationship exists with non-members and membership organisation, incentives help to attract their attention and get engaged with the research. It also provides a thank you for their time.

The Outcome: The results of our research has proved to be very insightful and helped to inform the recruitment strategies of membership organisations. Areas for development include:

  • increasing levels of awareness of the organisation;
  • addressing potential misconceptions about the organisation;
  • identifying drivers and motivators, the needs and wants of non-members;
  • fulfilling gaps in the benefits package;
  • communicating with non-members in different ways to engage them.