Case Study of Automatic Membership Renewal

Several weeks ago, I shared some thoughts on Improving Membership Retention through Automatic Renewal Programs. There were some questions asking for real world examples of what impact this would have on membership. So I was really pleased to see Susan Kistler, Executive Director, American Evaluation Association (AEA) share her experience the ASAE Membership Listserv Monday[1].

She highlighted her organizations two year experience with using an automatic credit card renewal program for members. Here is what she has found.

In the past two years, over 1,000 of the 5,000 members have signed up for automatic renewal.

Typically, the association renews about 60% of first year members. However, for first year members who have signed up for the automatic renewal program the association is experiencing an 85% renewal rate.

In speaking with others about this type of program, two of my “realist” friends, Dan and Conrad, reminded me that that this program does require a lot of administrative follow up. Member’s credit cards will expire or be rejected and this requires a personal interaction from the association.

This is a real concern. AEA reports that about 20% of the members’ credit cards have expired by the time that the next year’s renewal is due. But it would have to require huge amounts of staff time to offset the benefits of a forty percent overall lift renewal rate.

Here is a link to the American Evaluation Association’s membership application with the automatic renewal option. There is also an explanation on the AEA web site that explains to members how this option operates.

Has your organization had any experience with this type of renewal program?

[1] ASAE and The Center, Membership Listserv, Monday July 21, 2008.

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