Electronic Reminders Help Boost Membership, Voting Rates
APS membership for fiscal year 2002 is up by almost 500 members compared to the same time last year. An end-of-year count shows that the total number of members now stands at 42,007, compared to 41,570 in fiscal year 2001. Trish Lettieri, APS Director of Membership, attributes the increase in part to a series of electronic renewal notices that are sent out to current members during their renewal cycle, and followed up by personal phone calls to any members who don't renew. A special half price membership offer, available to new APS members and valid through this month, also helped boost membership totals.
Lettieri reports that there was also no noticeable downward trend in renewal rates in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, DC, and that the increase is mostly due to higher retention rates for existing members. "The number of new members coming in stayed roughly the same this year," she says. "We seem to be doing better at retaining members once they join," something she ascribes to "increased communication with members and a great membership staff who are eager to respond to member inquiries."
Electronic reminder notices also proved useful in boosting the number of ballots cast in the annual APS general election. The 2001 election marked the first time the Society offered the option of online voting, and APS members showed an overwhelming preference for that option. Only 13.2% of the total ballots cast last year were in the traditional paper format, with 86.8% being cast electronically.
More importantly, the 2001 election halted a three-year trend of declining voter participation. Survey and Ballot Systems, Inc., which handles the election process, reported that response was up 24% over last year, with 23.4% of the APS membership voting, compared to 18.9% in 2000. A breakdown of votes cast from June 15th through August shows sharp spikes coinciding with electronic reminder notices sent to the entire membership, clearly demonstrating the effectiveness of the practice.