Every association wants to increase their membership rolls. Members bring ideas and energy to the organization and more members usually means greater group vitality. Once they join though, it is essential to create many more connections for the members, because, that is what attracts people to your association in the first place — the promise of connecting. Member engagement is that promise in action.
Nationally, organizations are seeing on average 80% retention on all renewing members. This may be a lofty goal for your organization. But it is very achievable. Studies are showing an increase in renewals as we come out of the Great Recession. Engagement is important because as associations launch renewal campaigns, the more contact with members, the greater the likelihood that they will renew again the following year. Organizations that have 80% retention or better are 20% more likely to have a new member renew the next year.
The higher the overall retention, the more likely your association will appeal to new members.
If a potential member or a chronic attendee sees that your members renew year after year, that person is more willing to join. it is a simple example of success breeding more success….and less churn. Of course some professional associations have more churn – people move in and out of jobs and other stay in theirs for an entire career.
Set a goal for the organization.
Keep score of the new member retention of your association by benchmarking your churn (or turnover) rate, and then track it year over year. Review what years you had lower churn, and what years it was higher.
What percentage of renewing members you are you getting? Here is the formula to find out:
New members are looking for connections.
New members want industry information and opportunities to grow in their profession. If these needs are met by the association then these first-year members will probably subscribe after the first year mark.
Successful organizations create different programs to make new members feel welcome and interested in attending more meetings or events. It is crucial for the Membership Committee to focus on engaging the new member especially in their first year with the organization. This is true whether it is a regional or national association. According to this study, the mean renewal rate for new members is 68%.
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Need tips to Engage New Members? Here are nine tips to increase member engaement for new members. Implement one at a time, and watch the results.[/service_box1]
What about the inactive members?
There are folks who join and never come to a single meeting, but they pay their annual dues and keep renewing their membership. They may want the professional affiliation or access to the members section on the website, but they are not interested in participating in the activities.
In order to keep a new member from slipping into an inactive role from the onset, develop an outreach mechanism to engage them in some fashion within the first 10 days of their affiliation with your association. This will dramatically reduce the likelihood that they will feel disconnected to their new association, and will carry them through to when they renew.
It is important to continue communication with members through email and traditional, newsletters, even though their engagement may be nill. Inactive members help build the brand through their membership. Value them for who they are. It is important for them that the association looks and acts professional at all times. And it is helpful to keep them abreast on major advocacy issues in the profession. If you have a large number of Executive members who have been inactive for over a decade, consider special Executive programming to reengage them.
After the first year renewal.
The member is more than 80% likely to remain a member after this first critical renewal. If you have the ability to set up an automatic email to reach out to the member 15-30 days in advance of the renewal, you will increase the chance of renewal – although, of course a personal phone call might be the best solution.
By utilizing a CRM type of tool or drip email campaign associated with renewals, you will foster a degree of communication and a beneficial lifecycle.