Membes blog: Which is best: Cyclical or Anniversary Membership?

There have been a lot of lessons over the past few years both in our personal and professional lives because of the dreaded “C” word. It forced us to make a lot of changes and re-evaluate the way we do things to see if they can be improved upon.

This is very true for Associations as the lockdowns started right before many ran their annual join/renewal campaigns, which placed extreme pressure to prove the value of their membership. It also put an incredible strain on Associations’ hip pocket as the large cash boost they were used to at this time of year was challenged.

This raised the question – is cyclical membership or anniversary based membership a more sustainable business model for Associations?

Cyclical Memberships

This is the traditional form of membership with many Associations, generally either running by financial year or by calendar year. The logic behind this type of membership was to be more efficient and to allow for the membership team to bulk invoice in one month, allowing for an increase in additional resources and workloads over a shorter period of time.

For example, Associations using manual membership management find it easier to do the work in bulk rather than having to process individual memberships, every month of the year, based on the date members join.

Anniversary Memberships

This type of membership has grown in popularity in recent years – this is largely due to the advancements in technology in automating processes. It allows people to join your Association at any time of year and for their membership to run from the date they joined.

It also allows Associations to avoid the complications of pro-rata for membership. For instance, if they join in January and then the annual renewals are in July, they have to pay and sign-up for 6 months and then renew again in July. This additional work for the organisation is easily rectified if you are using a technology that automatically renews from a join date, and it allows a member a more streamlined membership journey without hassle which could increase the possibility of retention in years to come.

A quality Association Management System (AMS), like Membes, will take the headache out of managing anniversary memberships by allowing the renewals process to be fully automated, if you set it up this way. For example, the invoice can be automatically sent to members as well as reminder emails so your team doesn’t have to intervene on each individual membership renewal.

So which is best?

In today’s world with the advanced technology we have an Association can choose to run anniversary memberships for new members joining and transition cyclical memberships to automated renewals - all at the same time. The manual component of anniversary memberships has often been a barrier for Associations; however, with modern AMS’ there is no need for manual management or human intervention with running these types of memberships.

The pressure is also taken away from your team, with them no longer needing to secure all memberships by a certain date and respond to all enquiries in one period. Staff will also appreciate the removal of the pro-rata headache and working out the cost of those “in-between” memberships.

The good news for Membes customers is that switching your membership type from cyclical to anniversary is so easy (literally tick a box!) and you can run both types of membership concurrently. If you’d like to change to anniversary membership you can set up the system so all new joiners are on anniversary memberships while current members remain on cyclical memberships or you can switch everyone to anniversary memberships.

Certainly, in the long run this will ensure your revenue is spread throughout the year to create greater stability for your Association.

This is why choosing a dynamic AMS platform that has the ability to grow and change with your Association is vital for long-term success as it removes the headaches and risks!

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By Membes | 10 July 2023