Your Complete Guide to Membership Application Forms: Samples & Best Practices

First impressions can last a lifetime. That’s why you’ve taken great care to ensure your association website will win over future members. From having a section dedicated to information on the various membership levels to a prominent “Join Now” button on every page, you’re a pro.

Then, just when it’s time for your prospective members to join your association…it’s time for them to tackle the membership form.

Member association forms are one of the first contact points for new members with your association, so it’s essential to make it a good one. Will your future member follow through and complete the form? If you capture the right information, this could be the start of a beautiful, lasting relationship. After all, this is one of the first opportunities you have to get useful, clear data for your association database. 

The best membership forms strike the perfect balance between ease for your end user and the correct information for your association’s use. Not sure where to start? See these association membership form best practices, samples, and templates below to get some ideas for your site’s forms.

What You Need to Create an Effective Membership Form

First things, first. An effective membership form may seem effortless, but there are various tools and information you need behind the scenes to make the magic happen. After all, an effective membership form is built with a solid foundation of tools in your toolbox, including the following.

A Membership Management System Management Software

Stop spending your time managing excel sheets, and inputting data from forms into your systems yourself! Your association management system should store new member information after your prospective members complete your registration form.

When you automate collecting your membership form information, you’ll immediately have clean data at your fingertips. That means you can personalize or automate your communications—all while storing information securely and accurately.

A Form Builder

You’ll need a content management system (CMS) that’s equipped with an easy-to-use form builder so you can craft a custom membership registration form. Later, we’ll give you a free template to use to get started.Remember that customization is key. You’ll want to be able to quickly and easily create a form that you can alter to fit the needs of your organization.

The ideal form builder will allow for various types of data collection, from open ended questions to multiple choice. Look for a CMS that will give you options so you can build the best form for your needs.

Mobile-Friendly Design

Mobile-friendly websites and forms are more important than ever. More and more, people are navigating their online experience on their phones. No matter what device your prospective members use to access your site, they should be able to complete your form easily. What’s at stake if you aren’t mobile-friendly? They might put the task down—and never come back to it. That’s a loss of a member for you, and a loss of some great benefits for them!

Marketing Platforms

Once your membership application is finalized, you’ll need to promote it to prospective new members. Market your organization—and your member benefits!—across channels like social media, email, and direct mail. Your website is most likely where your form will be housed, but you’ll need all of these other tools to help promote your organization and your application form. 

Now that you have the behind-the-scenes details about what it takes to make a great membership form, let’s explore some top examples, and why each is effective.

Membership Website Samples to Use for Inspiration

1. Nevada Restaurant Association – Comprehensive Contact Information

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For the perfect membership form, it’s best to start with the basics:

  • Gather as much contact information as possible without going overboard
  • Make sure to collect your new member’s name, phone number, email and address
  • Don’t forget to ask how your new member would like to be contacted so you can reach out in the best way possible
  • Make sure the form is accessible on your website—the fewer the clicks to complete, the better chance that your end user will follow through with completing the form

2. American Grassfed: Cover More than the Basics

Now that the basics are covered, it’s time to go a step further. American Grassfed’s form is easy to submit on their website, and they go beyond basic information.

This organization offers space for additional farm and livestock information, and open text fields for personalized messages, more information about the farm, and any other certifications.

Adding an open text field gives your prospective members the chance to provide you with more detailed information that could strengthen your future relationship—and help you understand who’s a part of your organization.

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3. ArchPro Coding Rural & Community Health – Understand Why Your Member is Interested

How do you get more members? Well, that answer starts with how you’ve gotten them in the past.

One great way to track success is a field that lets new members tell you how they learned about you. This optional drop-down field for your association membership form lets you measure your marketing tactics—and amplify the ones that worked!

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4. Ohio Arts Professionals Network – Give Membership Options

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A member’s tier will define what their experience with you is like. Help them make the decision easier! Ensure that your membership levels are clear, and the options are easy to choose from.

The Ohio Arts Professionals Network includes each membership tier as well as the associated pricing. You can also take it a step further and explain all of the membership benefits and perks that come with each level. It never hurts to remind your members of all the exciting reasons to join!

5. American Alliance for Theatre and Education: Give Your Members Options

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While we live in the age of technology, some still prefer to do things the old fashioned way, especially if they’re paying for their membership with a check. That’s why the American Alliance for Theatre and Education offers both a convenient online form and an option to mail in the application. 

If your association does offer online and paper membership forms, make sure to house them all in one place so they can choose what’s best for their membership. Remember, just because your member might decide to mail in their form doesn’t mean you shouldn’t digitize their data! Add it to your association management software.

6. Home Builders Association of Greater Cincinnati – Ask for Additional Information

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In addition to offering various membership levels, the Home Builders Association of Greater Cincinnati has thought through every field its new members might need, such as additional points of contact. Depending on your type of organization, this may be a field to consider, especially with associations that feature businesses as members.

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Even if this field doesn’t lend itself to your association, you can still take away an important lesson: cater to your future members. When in doubt, ask your most recent members about fields they would have liked to see included to make their experience seamless.

Your Free Membership Form Templates

More of a visual learner? We’ve got you covered. Check out this free membership form template you can reference as you create your membership form. 

Remember—no two organizations are exactly the same. Different organizations have different needs for their membership forms, so make sure to think about your specific needs when creating a membership application form. Use the template provided as a guide for the must-haves, and then consider what may be missing that is directly related to your cause. 

Check out this blank template form to use below! 

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Now that you have the tools you need to succeed, get out there and build your membership form. It should be easy to use and succinct, yet robust enough to get the right information you can use to build a lasting relationship. When in doubt, take a page from the book of the association and membership organizations listed above. Plus, you now have a trusty free template to guide your membership application form development. 

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