A Tough Year for Membership Organizations

When you compare the percentage of associations that report growth in overall membership, new member acquisition, and membership renewals from 2009 to 2010, you see a consistent downward trend.

The comparison comes from looking at previously reported responses from the 2009 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report with new data under analysis for the 2010 Benchmarking Report.
The most significant drop off for membership organizations appears to be in renewals. In 2009, 31 percent of responding associations reported that renewal rates for their organization had decreased in the previous year. In 2010, 44 percent of associations reported a decline in renewal rates.

On the positive side, 62 percent of associations reported that new member input in 2010 has either increased or remained the same from the previous year.

Here are some of the charts highlighting this data.

When I reflect on results that I am seeing across a broad range of membership organization clients, these trends seem to be holding true. Acquisition efforts appear to still be meeting with good success, but holding onto the same level of renewals from previous years has been a real challenge for most associations.


Joe said...

Thanks for this info, Tony. This seems to run counter to the old business rule of thumb that it's cheaper and easier to keep a current customer than it is to bring in a new one. I'm curious what you think is going on at associations: has the dynamic changed, or are we all doing something wrong?

Tony Rossell said...

Joe -- Thanks for the comment. You ask a very good question. Here is what may be going on with these numbers.

It is still cheaper to keep a member for most associations. Even though the data shows that renewals are slipping, a full 77 percent of renewal rates reported by our survey respondents are still between 60 percent and 89 percent.

I think that the reason acquisition may be doing better compared to the drop off in renewals is that in very difficult times potential members are seeking community and answers. They are willing to give membership a try if it will help them find or keep their job or connect with others who can help them. However, if they do not find that help or that value from a membership, they are also likely to move on very quickly and save their money.

That is my theory, but I am open to other thoughts and ideas. Tony

Marlynn said...

From the comparison we can analyse the data with the new data and getting the most significant drop off for membership organization appears to be renewals.
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