Extend Your Members' Expiration Naturally through Renewals in Blackbaud Altru

Over the past few weeks, there have been a lot of requests from customers about extending membership dates in Blackbaud Altru® (“Altru”) as organizations adapt to these unprecedented COVID-19 closures. There are a couple of ways to accomplish this, so I encourage you to consider them both and select what’s right for your organization.

One option is to use the Blackbaud Altru Membership Utility to globally extend membership expiration dates (which can be limited by a query) as detailed in this knowledgebase article: https://kb.blackbaud.com/articles/Article/193270.

The other option, detailed below, changes internal operating procedures while also providing extra time on a membership. It may also bring in near-term membership revenue for your organization during this uncertain time.

Increasing the Membership Term

In Altru, organizations can create promotional codes that will automatically extend the membership date when a customer joins or renews their memberships. However, this requires a customer to use that promotion code through web forms, or for an internal user to manually apply the promotion to the membership transaction. A Membership Manager can change the membership term to increase the current terms for all membership transactions. For example, let’s say your organization wants to provide a 3-month extension for members that renew or join today. The Membership Manager can adjust the term from 1 year(s) to 15 month(s) and the system will automatically join and renew members for an additional three months. Once we are back to normal, the term can be readjusted back to 1 year(s) and, starting on that date, memberships would only be extended 1 year.

Steps to Update Term:

  • Open your membership program and click ‘Terms and Levels’
  • Click ‘Edit’
  • Update the current term number to 15 and change the units from year(s) to month(s)

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If you offer multiple terms on your membership program you can choose to update one specific term or all terms. This will update the current terms on all memberships in your database that have selected the previous term, but then update back to the standard term when it is reset in the future.

Creating a Membership Renewal Process

Most likely your organization already has a renewal process created for your membership program, but you might want to consider creating a new process that specifically addresses this temporary change to your membership terms. Additionally, since most of us are working from home, you may want to introduce more emails. Leveraging standard Altru functionally, let’s review how to create a renewal process that will send emails to members who have an email address on file, but also generate letters for those members that do not have an email on file.

Creating Membership Renewal Content

Before creating your packages and process, you need to have a letter and email that can be used in the process. Follow these steps to create the content:

Note: Before following these steps, ensure you have created a letter template using the Microsoft Word™ mail merge wizard. Use the following knowledgebase article: https://kb.blackbaud.com/articles/Article/54311.

  1. Open up Marketing and Communications and select ‘Letters’ under Packages header
  2. Click ‘Add a membership renewal letter’
  3. Enter the name of your letter, the export definition you used to create the letter, and upload the letter to Altru

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  4. Open Marketing and Communications and select ‘Email Marketing’ under Packages header
  5. Click ‘Add a membership renewal email’
  6. Create your email with information about the term extension during this time

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Note: For more information related to creating letters and emails for a renewal process, refer to this knowledgebase article: https://kb.blackbaud.com/articles/Article/159679.

Creating Membership Renewal Packages

Before creating a membership renewal process, you need to create mailing and email packages that leverage the content that you just created. Follow these steps to create the packages:

  1. Open up Marketing and Communications and select ‘Packages’ under Packages header
  2. Click ‘Add a mail package’
  3. Enter the name, description, category and select the Letter you added in the previous steps

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  4. Open up Marketing and Communications and select ‘Packages’ under Packages header
  5. Click ‘Add an e-mail package’
  6. Enter the name, description, category and select the email you added in the previous steps

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Creating Membership Renewal Process

Now that the content and packages have been created, you are ready to create your renewal process. In this example, I’m going to address a large segment of members (3 months before expiration to 3 months after expiration) but this can be updated to fit your needs.

Note: It is important to discuss this timing before creating the process as it is easier to create segments during the create phase. However, if you need to add or change segments after this process please review the following knowledgebase article: https://kb.blackbaud.com/articles/Article/66825

  1. Open your membership program and select ‘Set up membership renewal notices'
  2. Select all of your levels

Note: You can have different letters and emails for different letters, but that would require additional setup in the previous steps.

  1. Select all options for ‘Time to expiration’ except for ‘1 month before auto-renewal’. If a member is set for auto-renewal they will receive the term by default. If you want to communicate to them you can select this option, but ensure that you address these members in the email you configured.
  2. In the Mail and Email package fields, select the packages that you created in the previous step.
  3. Select ‘Email’ in the ‘For patrons with no mail or email package preference, use’ field. This will force Altru to send emails to members that have an email on file and only generate letters for members that are missing an email address.

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Run the membership renewal process

Now that you have configured the process, you can run your renewals and leverage the new content. We strongly recommend sending emails directly from Altru using the steps in the following knowledgebase article: https://kb.blackbaud.com/articles/Article/159679. The link added to the email is specific to the member, and they will not have to complete the membership form unless they want to update their membership level.

Leverage the custom acknowledgment form in Web Forms

Since we are sending a lot of emails in this process, hopefully members are using the membership online form for their renewals. I recommend that you leverage the custom acknowledgment email feature in Altru to thank members for their renewal during this time. You also might want to consider what options you will provide to members who join or renew during this time and add that to the custom acknowledgment email. Example: Members will be provided early access to the museum before the general public when the stay at home order is lifted for our community! You can find the process to create a custom acknowledgment email for web forms here: https://kb.blackbaud.com/articles/Article/121128.

The steps above have been provided as an option to extend membership expiration dates using standard functionally, and to provide an option for members to continue to support your organization during this time. Additionally, organizations could leverage the standard discount process on memberships or reduce the price of their memberships to entice members to join or renew during this time. I hope these options and ideas provide some help to your organization as you seek to deliver benefits to your valued members, while also considering the opportunity to bring in membership revenue in spite of possible closures.