Why Associations Don’t Drop Lapsed Members



I’ve watched throughout my career associations maintain lapsed members who haven’t paid their dues. And, for a very long time, in some cases. Why does it happen?
First, I believe associations have a perception they will lose clout on Capitol Hill if the membership numbers are lower. However, the reason you are effective on the Hill is your message is a good one, and you have credibility. Members of Congress and their staff don’t care if you have 2,500 members or 1,500 members. If you know your stuff, it’s a strong message, and you have expertise and credibility on the topic, they will listen.
Another reason associations hang on to lapsed members is “legacy.” In some cases, a false perception is perpetuated about the actual number of members an organization has, and the organization is hesitant to face the truth of the numbers. Think of all those member brochures now obsolete!

It is time to fess up to the real numbers in your organization. The main reason is your paying members deserve it. Paying members have shelled out to get the benefits and the services. They are indeed playing by the rules and are in good standing. We should focus our complete attention on servicing them in the very best way.
The third reason is an association’s overall fear these lapsed members might not return – “If we drop them and they won’t come back.” However, we’ve found in our membership development efforts is former members are the ones most likely to rejoin, but you must alert them they’ve lost their membership status to get them to rejoin, right?
Let me put this scenario in business terms: if you are Moery Company client and our contract ends, and you are no longer paying me, I’m not working for you anymore. So why are associations working for folks who aren’t keeping their membership current?
Now is the time to convey a strong message. If a company or individual is in arrears, your membership is suspended. So, no dues, no benefits of membership.
Heck, some companies may not know Membership has expired.  And why would they? This messaging might help.  “Your Membership has lapsed. We hope this is an oversight and you will continue benefits by paying the attached invoice. At the end of this month, all benefits and services expire. Consider our efforts to protect your business from government overreach, the networking and educational opportunities, tips for business development, and more.”
Stop association math now!
For more on great content on membership, check out Crafting an “Act Now” Renewal Letter.


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