For most associations, retaining members is a goal that’s always top of mind. Yet, recent findings from the Association Forum’s 2024 Association Membership and Services Survey, shed light on a curious contradiction: while associations work to retain their members, a significant portion are choosing to increase membership fees, even as many members state budget constraints as a reason for non-renewal.

This intriguing conundrum prompts us to dive deeper into what's at play and explore potential solutions that can better support your retention goals.

Do fees really need to rise?

The report reveals a striking statistic: 55.6% of associations have opted to raise their membership fees in the past year. However, combined with the finding that 59.4% of members cite budget constraints as a barrier to renew, the question arises: why would associations increase fees when faced with such financial limitations among their members?

Could one explanation be the rising costs to run an association? Are associations finding themselves battling escalating expenses, from administrative overheads to CPD development costs. This seems in line with the current economic climate - costs going up, prices increasing, it’s happening everywhere, right?

However, let’s pause for a crucial reflection: with a shifting landscape where members are evaluating the true worth of a membership, could associations explore other avenues to impact their bottom line? Rather than solely relying on revenue generation through increased fees, are there opportunities to reduce costs by improving operational efficiency? For example:
  • Reviewing internal processes to drive efficiency. Freeing up time for staff to focus on other projects.
  • Complete a technology stack review. Could you replace multiple software subscriptions with one complete solution?
  • Creating advertising opportunities on your website or in your newsletters.
  • Create opportunities to sell content for education or new items in your shop.
Beyond the issue of fee increases, the report offers invaluable insights into other challenges of member retention. Second on the list of reasons for non-renewal, sitting at a staggering 41.5%, was lack of perceived value, closely followed by forgetting to renew. Associations seem to have an array of obstacles they’re up against.

Are your members simply forgetting?

Consider the issue of forgetfulness among members, with 31% attributing non-renewal to this factor. This statistic seems hard to believe but with the endless platforms, to-do lists and other priorities fighting for our attention it does seem plausible to let the one or two reminder emails slip through the cracks.

An easy win here may be to review your renewal follow up process. How many reminder notices do you send? Can you send reminders in different forms such as SMS or notices within their own members portal? Consider offering a discount to renew early or for two years.

Keeping in mind the goal to reduce costs and increase efficiency, we may want to avoid the need to call each member personally which can be time consuming. Ensuring you have the right technology in place to make all this seamless and easy, is vital. If you are a current Membes customer & you are not taking full advantage of automatic reminder notices, you can find out how to set this up in the Membes User Guide.

What is your Membership value proposition?

Lastly, the challenge of lack of perceived value. No doubt many hours are spent creating strategies around this. Instead of guessing what your members want, ask them. Conducting polls and surveys with your members are key here.

The most popular benefits quoted in the Association’s Forum report were events, education, training and CPD. But what one association’s membership base cries out for, another may not. Make sure you know what your members value.

In conclusion, the report findings serve as a call for associations to reevaluate their approach to member retention. By embracing innovation and harnessing technology, you can improve operational efficiency, reduce your costs and keep your fees at a level your members can afford.

If you're exploring solutions for cost savings, streamlining your technology stack, or looking for ways to increase operational efficiency, Membes may be the right solution for you. Our all-in-one solution can assist with everything covered in this blog. Existing customers can find all the support you need in our User Guide. Make sure you're using all the modules and taking all the opportunities to improve efficiencies through Membes. 
To purchase a copy of The Association Membership and Services Survey Report go to the Associations Forum website

By Membes | 8 April 2024