Membership Development and Retention – Association Field Report (September 17, 2021)



Hello there, it’s JP Moery, Observations from the Field today.  Let’s talk about membership development and in particular retention. According to the MGI, Membership Benchmarking Study, which I refer to it a lot, nearly 47% of associations are reporting a decline in membership this year. That’s the highest percentage of decline since 2010, which was kind of a delayed reaction to the recession of that time. So, we have more challenges in terms of membership numbers than before, and we have a decrease in membership of about 1-5% in our overall numbers.  Renewal rates while they remain strong, in that 90% range, approximately 40% of associations are reporting a decline in their renewal rates, the people that have joined before and been members for years are taking a pass. What does this all add up to?
In terms of my observation today, it’s an unprecedented time for us to spend attention on renewals, and that often starts right now in the month of September. The best way to approach this is if I can use Marcus Lemonis terms of people, product, and process.
People– we need to utilize people in our renewal process, and many organizations are limited to a renewal process that has limited, if any, interaction from a human being. It’s all done by email, by mail, things like that.
Product– each month, over the next several months can you demonstrate a signature membership benefit or service, your education, your advocacy or your research, use an incentive to get people to participate or engage in maybe a new certificate or badge to reward an educational program accomplishment, something like that. Something that enables your people and your members to join in an effort that’s compelling and engages them in membership here over the next several months.
Process– take a look at your renewal process today, by month and break it down. What actually happens? Are we just in an invoicing process? What are we to people? Or is there really an intentional effort to get people to renew?
If you really want to showcase your membership over the next 120 days, how would you do it? How could you move the needle of improving 5% of your members that get that 95% renewal rate, and the velocity of your payments go up if you will think about people, product, and process. Reevaluate this. That’s my observation for you this week. Hope it works for you.
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