Two New Membership Models that are Thriving and One Membership Model that is Struggling

As they look to the future, many membership groups are looking for ways to either increase revenue of cut costs. To achieve this, they are introducing new membership models. Here is what I am seeing with some recent programs that our clients have developed.

1. Premium Membership – There are always highly committed members that want the top individual membership available. So one group I work with added some low cost, but helpful, new benefits to their regular membership and created a plus or premium option. They priced the higher level membership at $97 compared to the regular membership price of $49. With very little promotion members have moved to this new category primarily as they see the option when they renew online. It has increased revenue at almost no additional cost.

2. Institutional Membership – Traditionally membership associations are either an individual membership organization (IMO) or a trade association with company or organizational memberships. However, many IMO’s are creating a hybrid model where they continue to offer an individual membership, but also make available an institutional membership that includes benefits for multiple individuals in the organization. The results are very positive, more revenue and higher retention rates. Essentially these associations have grown their share of wallet beyond the one or two memberships that they normally would have from a single organization to a much higher dues figure.

3. Online Membership – As a cost cutting measure some associations have offered a lower price, paperless membership. All of the services are delivered electronically. Initial signups for this type of membership are good because of the lower dues amount. However, renewal rates for this membership category have been disappointing for many organizations. I have seen renewal rates as low as 15 percent. The challenge with the electronic membership model may be that online members do not receive the “push” of tangible mailed services with their membership. They have to be very proactive to extract value from the membership. And many do not have the time or take the initiative to benefit from services that are not pushed directly to them.

Exploring new membership models is part of the formula to keep a membership strong and thriving. However, not every new membership model works. What new membership models have you tried in your organization?

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