How the Number 7,777 Built Excitement for a Membership Drive

By: Joe Rominiecki

For the National Association of Neonatal Nurses, the simple act of announcing a goal for a membership drive—and making it a memorable number—had a big effect on getting members on board with recruiting for a new all-time high.

In late 2012, the National Association of Neonatal Nurses (NANN) decided 2013 would be the year it reached a new all-time-high membership level. The board and staff called it their "wildly important goal," and they picked an odd but memorable number: 7,777. They even put it on buttons that staff and volunteer leaders wore at NANN conferences.

"I think we took a big risk by putting it out there," says Dionne Wilson, CAE, NANN executive director. "It was almost like our declaration that were all in, that were going to commit to this and want the members to commit to it as well."

The goal would be a 7.3 percent increase, so NANN pursued it on multiple fronts, focusing on both new-member recruitment and improving its retention rate by 5 percentage points. Board members, chapter volunteers, and members at large were all enlisted to be "ambassadors" in recruiting fellow nurses.

"Our workforce ended up being quite large when we engaged the membership and the volunteers, and thats powerful," Wilson says. "Research tells us that oftentimes when people join or volunteer, it's because someone asked them to."

With a big goal in a single year, Wilson says NANN tried "to do the least amount of things that would have the greatest impact." That led to a group membership offer and a focus on hospitals with the Magnet designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, where research showed NANN's best prospects were. A focus group of neonatal nurses from Magnet hospitals helped NANN get its messaging just right, says Carrie Gremer, senior marketing and membership development manager.

By October 2013, NANN had grown to 7,923 members, or more than 9 percent in the year since NANN's board set the goal. It finished 2013 at 7,823 but by April was over 8,000, and it's trying to keep the momentum going, applying what it learned in a year of intense focus on membership. "A lot of these [new] marketing strategies and tactics that were in place last year continue to be successful this year," Gremer says.

Sights Set on 7,777

NANN's "wildly important goal" of reaching 7,777 members in 2013 resulted in its largest-ever single-year growth and a new all-time high.


NANN Membership Trend
2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
6,900 7,431 7,389 7,252 7,823 8,077*

*Totals as of April 2014. Totals for 2009 through 2013 represent year-end membership levels.

Joe Rominiecki is a senior editor at Associations Now in Washington, DC. Email: [email protected]

[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "How a target built excitement for a membership drive."]

Joe Rominiecki

Joe Rominiecki is a contributing editor to Associations Now.