Speaking Engagements

The 2018 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report

The tenth anniversary edition of MGI’s Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report is now available to download.  Participating associations will soon receive a printed in copy in the mail.
The theme of this year’s edition highlights the evolution in how associations go to market as they seek to recruit and retain members and how remarkably associations have adapted to changes to remain strong and vibrant.  In fact, the data highlights that association membership continues to show growth and staying power.
In looking back over data from the last ten years, it is significant to note that the 2018 key membership statistics mirror the resiliency that associations have reported over this period, perhaps challenging those who have prophesized the imminent demise of the association membership model.
With the exception of the latent impact caused by the economic downturn of the Great Recession, the trend of associations reporting an increase in membership counts has been remarkably consistent over the past ten years.  Slightly more or less than half of associations show solid membership growth during this period.
Similarly, a large proportion of associations have reported very stable renewal rates over the past ten years.  Again with the exception of the years around the Great Recession, associations have reported that their renewal rates have either “remained the same” or “increased” over the past ten years.
Here are some additional highlights from this year’s data.
  • Results show an uptick in the percentage of associations reporting increases in membership over the past year (48% vs. 46% in 2017). Similar to 2017 findings, only 25% of associations report declines in membership in the past year, and about one-quarter report no change (26%).
  • For associations reporting increases in membership over the past year, the median increase is a very respectable 5%.
  • More than half of all associations report increases in membership totals over the past five years (53%). Trade associations are most likely to report increases (56%), compared to IMOs (52%) and combination associations (51%).
  • At 47%, almost half of associations also report increases in new member acquisition over the past year. Only 12% of associations indicate their new member acquisitions have declined in the past year, and 35% indicate there is no change in their new member acquisition numbers.  New member recruitment continues to be the driver for growth in membership counts.
  • The median renewal rate reported this year is 84%, and 68% of associations report renewal rates of 80% or higher. At 89%, trade associations have the highest median renewal rate. IMOs and combination associations have similar renewal rates; both show renewal rates around 80%.
  • Finally, we continue to see the benefits of associations that effectively reach out to younger members.  Associations with increases in their one-year membership and five-year membership numbers are significantly more likely to have a higher percentage of millennial members. IMOs reporting declines in their membership over the past five years are significantly more apt to report a higher percentage of Baby Boomer members.
The Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report is made possible by the faithful contributions of hundreds of associations that contribute their data, comments, and guidance each year.  I want to warmly thank each association that has participated this year and over the ten year life of this research.

The report this year includes additional information on engagement and certification programs along with chapter membership that you will find valuable.  Here is the link to download the full report. 

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