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What can I do to get more members to renew?

The top four reasons members lapse, and changes you can make to increase your renewal rate – and the satisfaction of your membership

For any association where someone elects to be a member – membership isn’t required for their profession – the reasons run the gamut as to why a member does not renew their membership.

To solve this and work toward increasing your renewal rate, you need to first evaluate and then take action once a problem area is identified. Some actions are easy to implement, but others will require fundamental or structural changes to how your association operates. Here are four of the main reasons  why members don’t renew, what that could mean for your association, and what you need to do to fix it.

1. The value of the association didn’t meet member expectations.

When someone is staring at a renewal notice, they first evaluate their experience. They base their decision on how they feel toward the association as well as how well the association measured up to its promises. If they had a poor interaction with a chapter or at an event, that will factor in. If they didn’t take advantage of the benefits, they may feel being a part of the association wasn’t useful. This could be as simple as a communication problem, so make an effort to communicate with members frequently and in a timely way the benefits that are available – and how to best use them. Consistently remind members of how valuable your association is for them, and provide exceptional service whenever they do engage with you.

2. Members have a difficult time justifying the cost of dues.

Parting with money for what is essentially a “luxury purchase” can be a difficult proposition. So you need to make sure that the perceived or actual financial benefit of belonging outweighs the cost of annual dues. Make sure this is true for your association. Discounts and access to premium resources (such as videos or guides) that only your association can provide are essential to have from a member perspective. You may need to evaluate what you offer and look to adding something new to help your members feel that membership is worth the investment.

If you don’t know what benefits are working for you, and which ones aren’t, then ask your members for feedback. If you know the cost of dues is a hurdle for members, based on previous feedback, then consider an installment plan option to help members spread out the cost. The frequency is up to you, but we’d recommend quarterly so that you have to do fewer transactions over the course of the year as well as ensure you have three months’ worth of dues in the bank. And there will always be some members who cite the cost of dues as the reason, no matter what you do. What you need to do is make sure it’s not the main reason for most lapsed members.

3. Members don’t have enough opportunity or communication that it’s time to renew.

A strategic, well-timed renewal series is essential. Members may not be receiving notice until after they have expired, or they only receive renewal notices by email and they get deleted or forgotten. They may only receive one or two reminders to renew. It’s best to give members multiple chances to renew. We prefer a combination of letters and emails – perhaps a more graphic piece as well – over the course of several weeks before expiration and for several weeks after

4. Members would remain active if it was within their control.

Sometimes it’s out of their hands. For instance, one enthusiast membership association we work with is comprised of owner pilots of single- and twin-engine personal aircraft. They had an exceptional renewal rate but wondered why it couldn’t be higher. By incorporating a simple survey into their renewal series that asked why a member wasn’t renewing, they learned that 90 percent of the drops were for reasons outside the members’ control – they had sold their aircraft or lost their medical and could no longer fly. In many cases, it was because the member had actually passed away. These members found value with their association and enjoyed being a part of it, but these were changes they couldn’t avoid. Therefore, they no longer needed the association.

Often this type of member wants to continue to be involved and kept up to date; however, they are often under-serviced. They don’t have a need for the association’s main benefits. For members like this, consider adding a senior, lifetime, or advocate membership level with benefits tailored for them.

If you aren’t certain as to why your members aren’t renewing, the best thing to do is ask. Survey your expired members and listen to what they have to say. This will be actionable data that you can take to your board and to your leaders. Then, work on the solutions. Your current members will benefit, and you’ll be able to return to your expired members in the future with added value.

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Traverse City, MI 49686