Surprises from the Dues Increase Survey

I wanted to share the biggest surprise coming out of our dues increase survey that we completed this fall. The study shows that there is a far greater price inelasticity in dues levels than is commonly believed.

As I mentioned in my last post, these results are from responses of 324 association professionals who completed our dues increase survey.

In the verbatim responses to the survey, the vast majority of responders recommended a dues increase strategy of small regular increases. This is something that I would probably also have recommended to associations.

However, the data from the survey revealed a different outcome on the impact of dues increases when looking at membership counts. As the chart here shows:

  • Associations raising dues by 11% to 20% overall were most likely to report membership growing by over 10% than those who had lower or higher dues increases

  • Associations raising dues by 11% to 20% overall were the least likely to see a decline in membership of under 10%.

The survey did show that there is a limit to the increase that a membership can sustain.

  • Associations raising dues by dues by 21% to 30% were most likely to report a membership growing by over 10%.

  • Associations raising dues by 21% to 30% were most likely to see a decline in membership.

Not surprisingly, the best revenue outcomes were also associated with dues increases of 11% to 20%. These findings show that association membership will support a dues increase as high as 11% to 20% and not negatively impact membership counts or revenue. However, anything over 20% shows a diminishing rate of return, with larger decreases in membership and acquisition rates, and declining renewal rates.

The lesson is to rely on the data, not just our intuition, when establishing pricing or any other marketing initiative. It also shows that associations that raise dues at lower percentages may be sub-optimizing their revenue.

By the way, if you would like a copy of the dues increase report, please send me an email and I will be happy to forward it to you.

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