Is your association membership application form sending the right impression to potential members?

Your membership application process is the way new members are introduced to your association. It is important to make sure that the process is user-friendly and uncomplicated. If it isn’t, it could turn off that potential member. Collecting all pertinent information in order to process that application is equally as important. The following article will help you to build a great membership application form.

How Do I Find The Application Form?

Most associations host their application forms online and include the option of applying online through the website or downloading the form to print and return it via mail or email.

The membership form should be easily accessible, not buried deep within your website’s navigation. Having a ‘Become a Member’ link to the membership page off of the main webpage is ideal. You could also have a “Join Us” or “Join Now” button on the top tool bar of your website.

It is important that you give clear instructions on the website and on the application form as you do not want a prospective member struggling to fill it in. The fewer the clicks to complete, the better chance that they will follow through with completing the form.

Ensure that information on membership requirements, member benefits as well as opportunities for networking and participation is easily accessible on the website page. For information on member benefits offered to your members read these articles: The Value of Member Benefits and  Introducing New Association Member Benefits.

What Do I Include On The Application Form?

Not two associations are alike. Therefore, what one association would deem an essential piece of information, another may not. Before beginning the process of creating or updating the application form, make a list of all necessary information your association needs to collect from that potential member.

Below are key items that your membership application form should include:

  • Membership requirements – List all requirements to become a member in that specific category they are applying for. Membership requirements should also be posted on the ‘Become a Member’ webpage.
  • Membership types or levels and their fees– For example: Student Member – $100, Certified Member – $400. You may want to have separate application forms for each member type.
  • Contact information – First name, last name, home address, work address, phone numbers (home, cell, and work), email address, etc. I recommend collecting two email addresses from the member, a work email address, and a home email address.
  • Employees contact information – For associations whose members are organizations or companies collecting details on the owner, sales, and billing contact is recommended.
  • Preferred address – Do not forget to ask how your new member would like to be contacted so you can reach out in the best way possible.
  • Education – University/College, Degree/Diploma and year of graduation are important to collect for associations that have certified memberships. If proof of student membership or degree/diploma is a requirement, make sure to highlight this request on the form or have an option for them to upload the document(s) on the online form.
  • References or sponsors (if required) – Ask for one to three references; include name, email, and phone contact information. Need a signed reference letter as well? Include an option for downloading the form.
  • Payment options and process details – Most associations accept payment by cheque or credit card, either at the time of applying or after approval of the application. Having an online option for credit card payments either via a link or through an Association Management System (AMS) is ideal. For paper registrations a credit card authorization area should be added for members to complete and send in.

What Else Should I Collect?

Although there is a lot of information that you could collect from the potential member, you do not want to go overboard. Below are a few other items that you may want to collect during the application process:

  • Social site information – Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.
  • Previous or affiliate membership – This information would be collected for chapters of national associations.
  • Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) Approval – Make this a required field on your form, members will have to agree to these by checking these off. Examples of CASL wording is below:

_____ I provide my express consent to being contacted, including by email and by other electronic communications, by the XYZ Association, and third parties, such as third parties we engage to help us manage XYZs affairs, for purposes related to my membership with XYZ.

_____ I provide my express consent to being contacted, including by email and by other electronic communications, by XYZ Association, and third parties who offer goods and services which XYZ believes may be of interest to me, as a member of XYZ, about goods, services and other promotions offered by XYZ, and these third parties.

Create That Form!

You are now ready to start creating or updating your membership application form(s). Remember, whether your association offers potential members the option to apply by paper form, online or both it is essential to keep the application simple and easy to complete and collect all necessary information to process that new membership.