Characteristics of Rapidly Growing Membership Associations

The 2013 Membership Marketing Benchmarking data shows that 24% of responding associations reported rapid growth in membership over the past year.  My definition of rapid growth is growing at a rate of 6% or better.   

So today, I took a look at some of the characteristics of these growing associations.  Here is what I found.

·       Associations that describe themselves as offering both individual membership and organizational membership are more likely to have rapid membership growth compared to individual or trade groups (28% to 23% to 21%).

·       Associations with 20,000 members or more are more likely to have rapid growth (35%).

·       Associations representing healthcare, hobbyists, financial services, and professional services markets are more likely to have rapid growth.

·       Associations with an increase in new members over the past year are more likely to have rapid membership growth (33%).

·       Associations with an overall renewal rate of less than 80% are more likely to have rapid membership growth compared to organizations with an 80% or greater renewal rate (27% to 22%).

·       Associations with an increase in renewal rates over the past year are more likely to have rapid growth in membership (39%).

·       Associations with first year new member renewal rates of between 60% and 79% are more likely to have rapid membership growth (28%). 

This topic probably warrants going deeper into the data to look at specific tactics that correlate with rapid membership growth.  But for now, here is one finding that the data may support.  It may be more important to add new members into the membership funnel than to renew them. 

Groups with somewhat lower overall renewal rates and lower first year renewal rates still had rapid growth.  This may be because a larger portion of their membership is made up of new members who characteristically renew at lower levels than do long term members.

Please feel free to share your theories in the comments section below. 



Anonymous said...

What's the difference between
"individual membership and organizational membership"?

David Carrithers - Founder, President & Chief Beekeeper said...

Excellent Data and insights from it – thank you for sharing!

What jumps out at me is the thinking that what we do, how we look at who we are as an individual continues to grow in importance. Associations are one way (a powerful way) to refine, define and improve who we are as both a person and as an industry.

Keeping members engaged beyond the expected features of an association will be key to the longer-term value and growth of an association. Members that are more active, more involved – beyond a yearly event or conference, more monthly or weekly opportunities to interact with the association will see value and remain a member.

Growing members from occasional users and supporters to advocates it visible supporters takes action, interaction and positive engagement.

Best in Spirit! David Carrithers, ACI

Unknown said...

"Associations with an increase in new members over the past year are more likely to have rapid membership growth (33%)."

Can you explain this? Seems circular to me - those growing are growing. Maybe it's missing a word?

Tony Rossell said...

Thanks for the questions. In response to the first question above, in our research, we define an individual membership as an association that offers benefits to a single individual for a specific dues amount. An organizational membership -- also known as a trade association membership -- provides services to a company or a firm for a specific dues amount. There are many similar behaviors between each type of membership because ultimately an individual makes the decision to join or renew. But when we see different behaviors in our research, we break out the data for each membership type. Tony

Tony Rossell said...

I can see why it might seem like a circular argument to note a correlation between an increase in new members and rapid growth. You are correct the two are very often linked. However, there are membership organizations that have growth in new members, but do not grow total membership because their retention is in decline. And there are other groups that have improved their value or retention efforts at such a high rate that they are keeping so many more members that they previously would have lost that allows them to see rapid membership growth without increasing the number of new members. So just increasing the number of new members does not always translate into rapid membership growth for a membership organization. Hope this clarification helps. Tony

Richard said...

We are growing by 15% per year because with have a business plan. The only three diffrences between us and a private company are the following:
- transparency is mandatory in our case because we are owned by the members
- profits are optional because our aim is to give all back to the commununity that owns us
- any surplus of a certain amount has to be invested in a specific mid-long-term project

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