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Membership Recruitment & Retention

Membership Renewal – Make it a No-Brainer
By Heidi T. Wunder, Associate Director

End-of-year communications to your association members is likely to include a notice of dues renewal for the coming year. In the best case, your members are fully engaged and feel strongly that they’ve received value from the association and the decision to write a check is an easy one.

The reality is, however, that in recent economic times, it’s likely that the balances in both our personal and business checkbooks are low, and dues renewal gets a little hesitation.

Both trade associations and professional societies have to be sure the answers to these questions your members will be asking themselves are positive, or membership renewal is not assured:

  • Do I get my money’s worth?
  • Is this money better spent elsewhere?
  • Is my own business better thanks to what I get from my association?
  • Can I afford to spend time away from the office at association meetings?

One way to improve member retention rates is to remind each member about all they’ve received from their involvement in the association over the past year. Informally called an association “Report Card,” this document itemizes all reports, studies, meetings, educational opportunities and other benefits each member took advantage of in the past year. Tangible descriptions of what was received for their dues dollars is in black and white, generally totaling much more than the annual investment of dues.

This approach can even educate members about association benefits they didn’t even know were available. For example, a member might not realize that a variety of industry research reports is available as part of membership.

In addition to listing out all benefits that are automatically a part of membership, the “Report Card” also tallies things like meeting attendance or products and publications purchased during the year. You can use this tool to remind members of the cost savings derived from registering for the annual conference at the member rate as opposed to the non-member registration fee.

The potential for a member to see a long list of unrealized value on this “Report Card” is high, because it catalogs, all on one page, everything that a member has received in a year’s time. What better way to encourage a member to write that check to stay involved?

Unfortunately creating a “Report Card” is not easy, and requires year-long planning to render accurate end-of-year statements. Meticulous tracking of payments and registrations is needed, because an error could result in member dissatisfaction instead of the desired awe. If creating a “Report Card” for your association is something you’d like to try for next fall, we recommend that you start in January by auditing your processes and cleaning up your database, and making accurate data entry a priority throughout the year.