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Insights on Membership Retention and Growth: A Survey of NFP Associations

The Association Forum’s survey of over 100 NFP Association CEOs and Leaders has shed light on the nuanced approaches to membership retention and growth. While some strategies enjoy widespread support, others reveal a divide in opinion. Here’s a look at the findings:

  1. Quality Over Quantity: Rethinking Member Numbers

With only 18% agreement, it’s clear that the majority still see growth in numbers as a significant goal. However, this minority viewpoint emphasizes the importance of service quality and member engagement as the cornerstone of value. Associations may benefit from a dual approach that does not compromise service quality in the pursuit of expansion.

  1. Policy and Advocacy: The Need for Stronger Voices

Nearly half (47%) agree on the necessity of clear policy positions, suggesting that many associations are still on the fence. This highlights an opportunity for organizations to strengthen their advocacy efforts and clarify their stances, potentially becoming more influential voices for their members.

  1. Perks and Benefits: Aligning with Mission

A mere 12% see value in unrelated perks, indicating a potential misalignment with member expectations. Associations should reassess whether such benefits dilute their brand or distract from their mission, and instead, focus on benefits that resonate with their core objectives.

  1. Mobile Engagement: The Untapped Potential

With 29% utilizing mobile communication, there’s a significant untapped potential for associations to modernize their communication strategies. Mobile platforms offer a direct and personal way to engage members, suggesting a shift towards these channels could be beneficial.

Consideration needs to be given to Millennials (and Gen Z) who will comprise over 60% of the global workforce by 2030. These groups are set to redefine the world and our workplaces and expect to engage with businesses as they do with Amazon, Netflix, Spotify and others.

  1. Re-engagement Campaigns: The Forgotten Members

Only 25% have campaigns targeting past members, which may be a missed opportunity. Developing strategic re-engagement initiatives could rekindle relationships and provide insights into why members leave, informing future retention strategies.

  1. Payment Flexibility: Meeting Members Where They Are

47% support monthly payment plans, indicating a split in adoption. Offering flexible payment options can make membership more accessible and reduce financial barriers, potentially leading to higher retention rates.

In conclusion

While some strategies are well-adopted, others present opportunities for growth and improvement. Associations should consider these insights to build a robust membership framework that supports both their mission and their members’ needs.

By focusing on quality services, clear advocacy positions, and targeted engagement efforts, associations can foster stronger member relationships and sustainable growth.

Tony Gleeson

Advisor – Association Forum

18th April 2024

Note: The survey was conducted at the Association Membership Summit held on the 29th of February in Sydney.

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