Membership Q&A: Call or Text?

grey rotary telephone

Let’s say you’re over email and want to take your welcome, retention, and/or renewal communications to the next level.

Should you call, or should you text?

Well, who are your members? What generations are represented and in what quantities?

It’s not just your imagination – Millennials and GenZ genuinely do prefer text to voice calls, by pretty significant majorities (in the US, nearly 3/4 prefer text). (You can get the full study here.) If your members skew younger, texting is going to feel far less intrusive than calling.

For older generations, Boomers in particular, the reverse is true. They are less comfortable in that medium and may find texting from people who aren’t intimates (family and close friends) inappropriate.

What if, like many associations, you members are a mix of generations?


Call your Boomers – and maybe your Xers, too, who according to the doctoral dissertation study referenced above are the generation most likely to be texting frequently with a spouse or life partner (that may be because they’re the current “sandwich” generation).

Text your Millennials.

Bonus question: Who should make the call?

We tend to default to asking members to call members. It seems like an easy and fun volunteer ask, a good job for your membership committee or even ad hoc volunteers: Can you give us 10 minutes to call a new member in your area, welcome her to the association, and tell her a few things you value about your membership?


I was just on a webinar today hosted by Engage Software and presented by Smooth The Path’s Amanda Kaiser. She had conducted a research study with Dynamic Benchmarking on effective new member engagement practices, the results of which were released last year, and they found that member calls, at least those focused on new member engagement, were most effective when placed by staff, not volunteers.


Their theory is that staff members actually PLACE the calls (which volunteers may neglect to do), and that they tend to be more disciplined about staying on message and can better explain member benefits.

Their study didn’t look at renewal calls, but I always advise clients who plan to call lapsing members to have a professional place those calls, whether that be a staff member or an outsourced telemarketing firm. Calling someone who’s lapsing is too scary for volunteers. Unless the member is lapsing because she forgot, she’s probably unhappy about something, and only staff members or their designated representatives have the authority to fix her problem.

Photo by Eckhard Hoehmann on Unsplash