Memberships & Associations
October 19, 2023

8 Membership Incentive Ideas: Drive Engagement & Retention

Membership Incentives Ideas


In today’s blog we explore 8 creative membership benefit ideas.

Incentives are a strategic tool for your membership organisation to attract, retain, and engage members, and they are essential for demonstrating the tangible value of membership. They not only benefit members by providing rewards and benefits but also support the sustainability and growth of your organisation.



1) Membership Reward Programmes

2) Exclusive Experiences 

3) Personalised Content and Recommendations

4) Skill & Career Development Opportunities

5) Impactful Social Responsibility Initiatives

6) Member Driven Innovation

7) Membership Appreciation Events

8) Referral Marketing Programmes

  • Continuous Feedback Loop


    Memberships & Associations Guide to Increasing Acquisition, Engagement & Retention

Why are Incentives Important for Membership Organisations and Associations?

Incentives serve as a means to draw in, captivate, and retain members, while adding to the overall value proposition of your membership organisation or association. Here's a summary of why incentive should play an important role in your engagement and retention strategies.

  • Attracting New Members: Incentives can be powerful tools to entice members to join your organisation. The promise of immediate benefits or rewards can make the decision to become a member more appealing.

  • Member Retention: Incentives are not only for attracting new members but also for keeping existing members engaged. Providing ongoing incentives, such as exclusive content, discounts, or rewards, encourages members to renew their memberships and remain committed.

  • Creating Value: Incentives demonstrate the tangible value of membership. They show members that their investment (membership fees) is worthwhile, as they receive real, concrete benefits in return. 

  • Increased Engagement: Incentives can boost member engagement by providing reasons for members to interact with the organisation, attend events, participate in activities, and take advantage of the benefits offered.

  • Revenue Generation: Some incentives, such as exclusive events, premium services, or merchandise, can generate additional revenue for the organisation, which can be reinvested to enhance member offerings and organisational capabilities. 

  • Data Collection and Personalisation: Incentives can also be used to collect valuable data on member preferences and behaviours. This data can be used to tailor offerings and communication, making the membership experience more personalized and appealing.

  • Building a Strong Community: Incentives can foster a sense of belonging and community among members. They encourage interaction and collaboration, strengthening the bonds between members and the organisation.

  • Feedback and Improvement: Incentives can be used to encourage members to provide feedback, enabling the organisation to continuously improve its offerings and meet member needs more effectively.

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Ideas to Incentivise Your Members for Increased LTV


1) Membership Reward Programmes 

Member benefits and rewards programmes incentivise engagement and actively reward members for their ongoing participation. Programmes such as these are a potent incentive idea as they offer tangible value. This makes your organisation more appealing and the experience of being a member of it all the more rewarding. 

ISM Reward Programme 2
ISM Reward Programme 1
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Personalised Rewards

Personalisation is the bare minimum of making members feel valued and appreciated. It’s important that all of your incentives are personalised. Therefore, a reward platform that can house your own rewards or relevant 3rd party incentives (provided by the reward platform supplier) could be necessary, if this can't be done in-house.

Rewards like discounts on renewals, invites to special events and access to personalised content, will resonate with your members more. 

Other benefits of member reward programmes:


Monetisation: You can use reward programmes to monetise services, such as offering premium tiers with exclusive rewards for an additional fee.

Gamification: Implementing game-like elements into your reward programme can make member engagement more enjoyable and interactive, creating a sense of achievement.

Data collection: enable data collection, offering insights into the behaviours and preferences of your members. Allowing you to make informed, customised rewards that are more attractive, engaging and resonate more with your members. 


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2) Exclusive Experiences

Exclusivity is a powerful motivator for member retention. Unique and exclusive experiences truly sets your organisation apart and add to your value proposition. The concept of providing exclusive opportunities resonates with demographics and ensures its future success.

Behind-the-scenes tours, VIP access and networking events present memorable experiences not available elsewhere.

Yet it’s no secret that membership organisations are currently struggling to acquire younger demographics.

Relying only on the retiring Boomer generation is an unsustainable strategy. Evergreen solutions therefore are a must and that’s exactly why exclusive experiences are a great incentive idea! They make membership organisations more appealing to younger demographics. 

After all, there’s massive demand amongst Millennials for exclusive events. They drive the event economy as they are a maturing demographic in the workforce. Furthermore both virtual events or events in person are viable incentive ideas to offer your members in younger demographics.

The Millennial generation is a collaborative one. They believe personal connections and establishing deep relationships with others is essential in both professional and personal settings. Which is why 78% of Millennials would spend more to attend live events. 

Tapping into this desire with younger generations will help your organisation circumvent acquisition and retention issues. 


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3) Personalised Content and Recommendations 

Your membership organisation can harness the power of personalised content and recommendations to nurture member loyalty. Creating content to an individual’s needs and preferences covers all major pain points of their journey with your organisation. From onboarding to incentivising them with personalised offers to renew their membership

Membership organisations tend to stick with legacy tech that holds them back. Yet, with overwhelming transitions of expectations, there’s no time like the present to modernise. Your organisation could collect the necessary data to segment lists, and tailor content to key demographics in your membership base. 

Personalisation is a powerful incentive as it makes all of your members feel understood and seen. Members are not just another number. Show them that you appreciate and value them as individuals.

In fact, go the extra mile and encourage user generated content. Time and again it has increased engagement and it frees up your content marketers.

Recommendations also enhance engagement further because you offer them based on what you know about the member’s preferences. Therefore it’s more likely that the invitation will be more appealing. 

Offering value that aligns with the personal goals of your members reinforces their sense of loyalty.



4) Skill & Career Development Opportunities 

Workshops, webinars, training sessions and networking opportunities are a must-have incentive for your organisation. After all, this incentive idea aligns with your core objective of helping members advance in their careers or field of expertise. 

There’s no doubt you already understand what personal and professional growth means to your members. It holds precedent in their priorities and personal goals. If your organisation shares job opportunities within your sector, via a job board for example, it demonstrates that you’re committed to their success.

Offering this facility for professional advancement as a membership incentive can create a win-win situation. Members receive valuable support in their professional journey, and your organisation benefits from increased member attraction, retention, and engagement. It creates a sense of community, mutual support, and a shared commitment to members' career success.


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5) Impactful Social Responsibility Initiatives

Impactful social responsibility initiatives are another great incentive idea. In fact, the same goes for organisations or associations with a mission that already focusses on having a positive social impact.

Volunteer programmes, community outreach and charitable partnerships demonstrate to members that your professional organisation has a broader commitment to social causes. Members receive a shared sense of purpose among members, nurturing that all-important connection with your organisation.

For organisations like The National Trust, it could be argued benefits are the perks. The National Trust invites its most committed members to exclusive activities like tree planting, habitat restoration, and historical artefact preservation. Members therefore see firsthand the impact their membership has for the UK’s historical heritage and environment. 


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6) Member-Driven Innovation

Members invited to shape your organisation’s offering empowers community members and creates a deep sense of long lasting loyalty. Member-driven innovation also leads to creating a service that is truly unique, compelling, relevant and valuable. The insights you gain are from the other end's perspective. That’s not something a lot of organisations will consider. 

Your organisation also attracts the brightest minds and most passionate people who can help it achieve its mission. Inviting them to the decision-making process means you’re tapping into a great resource for free. You’re gaining insights, ideas and expertise of people who live and breathe your organisation’s mission. 

In the long run, this will help you succeed in your mission. The beauty of it all? Your members or co-creators directly played a part in that success. They’ll want to own and celebrate the achievements they share with your organisation and its online community.


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7) Member Appreciation Events 

Member appreciation events are a powerful way to show your members that you appreciate them. Demonstrating a genuine and heartfelt appreciation of your members’ support and commitment, strengthens the relationship between them and your organisation. This promotes a sense of belonging and camaraderie, both of which are vital for member retention. 

The importance of your events lies in their ability to leave a lasting impression. Creating memorable experiences deepens the emotional connection members feel towards your organisation and its community. Marketers widely agree that businesses build long lasting loyalty upon a strong emotional connection with customers. You can do the same with your members.

The Red Cross is a real life example of an association that regularly hosts member appreciation events. It recognises and celebrates the efforts of its volunteers and donors. These events often involve award ceremonies and special dinner parties.

The Red Cross understands that showing gratitude strengthens bonds within its membership community. Shared interests are fundamental to the success of its mission. You could also consider appreciation posts on social media platforms or a member-of the-month programme. 


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8) Referral Marketing Programme

Referral marketing can be an effective incentive for your membership organisation, often incentivised by offering rewards or benefits to both the referring member (the advocate) and the new member (the referred).

Here's how referral marketing serves as an incentive for membership organisations:

  • Member Acquisition: Referral marketing is a powerful method for acquiring new members. When satisfied members refer like-minded friends, family, or colleagues, it can result in a steady stream of new memberships.

  • Member Engagement: Referring members are more likely to remain engaged with your organisation as they actively participate in growing the community.

  • Rewards for Advocates: To incentivise your members to refer others, organisations often offer rewards to advocates, such as discounts, exclusive access, or other perks. These rewards recognise and appreciate their efforts.

  • Benefits for New Members: New members referred by existing members may receive incentives as well, making the decision to join more attractive.

  • Community Building: Referral marketing contributes to the growth and diversification your membership community. It can lead to a more vibrant and interconnected group of members.

  • Cost-Effective Growth: Acquiring new members through referrals is often more cost-effective than other acquisition strategies, such as advertising or marketing campaigns.

  • Trust and Credibility: Referrals come with a level of trust and credibility, as they are based on the recommendation of someone the potential member knows and trusts.

  • Measurable Impact: You can track the success of your referral programme, measuring the number of new members acquired and the engagement of referring members.

Overall, referral marketing serves as both an incentive and a growth strategy for membership organisations. It leverages the power of word-of-mouth recommendations and rewards members for helping to expand the organisation's reach and impact.


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Continuous Feedback Loop 

Feedback loops provide your organisation the opportunity to gather, analyse and act on your member’s feedback in real time. You may have noticed moments throughout this blog where we’ve suggested that these incentive ideas “may” work for your organisation. 

The only way you’ll know for sure is asking your members for their opinions. Whether that’s before or after you implement the strategy. Every organisation is unique.

Some of the incentive ideas just might not resonate with your audience. We always recommend that you gauge the sentiments of your membership base first. That way you begin to understand the common interests of your members, shaping everything from your marketing strategies and incentive ideation.

The best way to do this? Well…ask for feedback! Put out a survey. Ask them how they feel about your service. Areas where it needs improving.

List some of the incentives discussed in this blog as potential new features. The ones that score the highest will clearly indicate a consensus amongst your members. 

This will show your members that you value their feedback. It also touches on some of the strategies discussed already. For example, you’re instantly planting the seeds to member-driven innovation just from asking for feedback. 

Strategic Incentives Add to Your Member Value Proposition

Innovation and creativity are the keys to turning your membership organisation into a loyalty powerhouse. Now that we’ve explored these creative membership incentive ideas, explore which ones will work best for your organisation. Also, see our membership trends blog for ideas on how to add to your membership value proposition.

In conclusion, incentives are not just valuable tools for membership organisations; they are the lifeblood of growth and sustainability. Whether it's attracting new members, retaining existing ones, or promoting deep engagement, incentives play a pivotal role in reinforcing the value of membership.


Engage and Retain Your Members 

This comprehensive guide equips you with strategies for sustainable growth, covering member acquisition, engagement, and retention. Prepare to elevate your membership organisation's performance and deliver an exceptional member experience.

Memberships & Associations Guide to Increasing Acquisition, Engagement & Retention




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