Memberships & Associations
October 5, 2023

10 Ways to Boost Membership Retention

Membership Retention


Membership retention isn't just about preserving your revenue stream. It's a catalyst for consistent growth, enabling you to fulfil your organisation's mission. From personalised onboarding experiences to data-driven decision-making. 

While increasing new member subscriptions is vital, sustainable growth depends on a fundamental metric: membership retention. In our blog today, we delve how organisations can keep members engaged and committed for the long term.


Why Retaining Members is Important 

Membership retention is crucial for your organisation for several reasons. Membership fees or subscriptions often constitute a significant portion of your revenue. 

Stabilising revenue through better retention, means you can plan and
budget more effectively. This allows you to invest in marketing, outreach and onboarding to attract new members. 

With increased stability and growth firmly cemented in a solid foundation, you can focus on achieving your mission and delivering your value proposition instead of replacing lost members. 


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Membership Assessment - Acquisition, Engagement & Retention

Strategy 1: Personalised Member Onboarding

Long term retention begins with great first impressions. To keep members for the long haul you need to start out as you mean to go on. A memorable, personalised onboarding process is a great starting point for your membership organisations to convey excellent customer service.  


In fact, 63% of customers consider a seamless onboarding process critical to their decision of subscribing to a service. It’s no different for members signing up to your organisation.

So, what can you do to ensure your onboarding process is not only quick and stress-free but sets a first good impression? You personalise the experience! 

Step 1 

Welcome Messages: Send personalised welcome messages or emails to newly signed up members. Address them by name, express your appreciation for them joining your organisation, and let them knowthere’s onboarding support available. 

Step 2

Personalised Support: Offer personalised support and assistance, especially during the early stages of membership. Address any questions or concerns they may raise during the onboarding process. 

It’s okay for some members to struggle with certain aspects of getting to grips with your organisation. You just need to make sure their questions are responded to quickly and their concerns resolved even quicker.

Step 3

Personalised Content: Tailor content and resources to match the interests and preferences of every individual member. The best way to gather this type of information is simply asking your members. 

You should curate the topics your content covers during the onboarding process. However, there should be multiple channels in place e.g., articles, videos and webinars available. The content should be tailored to different ways people like to learn in order to keep members engaged. 

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Strategy 2: Engaging Communication

After members join, your focus should shift from the onboarding process to effective membership retention. That starts with personalised and engaging communication, a critical part of your member engagement strategy. Yet, the question remains, what makes communication compelling? 

Luckily, that’s easier to answer for membership organisations. As you typically orientate around a specific mission that aligns with the values of your members.

Sometimes even organisations that stay true to their values lose members because they aren't  consistently communicating with their members in a personalised way. So…

Develop a communication plan  

  • Create a well-defined communication strategy outlining your goals, target audience, messaging channels, and frequency of communication.

  • Set clear objectives that focus on consistency and quality content that aligns with your organisation's mission and values.

Communicate consistently:

  • Establish a regular communication schedule, whether it's weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Consistency helps members know when to expect updates and keeps them engaged, especially when the content resonates with them. 

  • Maintain your communication schedule to build trust and reliability.

Highlight Achievements and Milestones:

  • Celebrate the collective achievements of your membership organisation. Build a compelling story that showcases how members have made a difference.

  • Similarly, anniversaries and significant milestones for individual members, as well as recognising their contributions fosters a sense of belonging and loyalty.

  • Incorporate visuals like images and videos to break up text and make content more appealing, engaging and compelling. 

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Strategy 3: Value-driven Benefits

What’s deemed valuable to members depends on the type of organisation you have. Members of professional associations will find value in benefits such as free networking events and webinars. Whereas nonprofits and charity members feel the benefit of helping others as truly valuable. 

The purpose of your organisation should inform the type of benefits you offer to members. Here are some examples and are key to your member value proposition.

Project Management Institute (PMI): Educational resources & networking events 

Members of the PMI will greatly benefit from webinars, workshops and online courses that aid them in career development. Improving member skills, knowledge and expertise is in line with the organisation’s mission and helps it boost retention. 

National Trust: Environmental Initiatives

The mission of The National Trust is to protect historic places and green spaces in the UK. Members enjoy free access to over 500 properties, coastlines and countryside locations. In addition to this, they receive invites to special events and exclusive member content. 

Content typically includes milestones for raising funds and news about the positive impact of The National Trust. Invites to special events involve supporting local eco-friendly initiatives. Members can participate in environmentally conscious projects or campaigns aligned with their environmental values. 

The Royal Society of Arts (RSA): Ethical and Social Responsibility Programmes

RSA members receive invitations to events, lectures and to engage in discussions on societal challenges. Topics often relate to arts, education, and social progress.

A collaborative community of like minded individuals with one heart set on improving the lives of others. It’s this sense of community that makes the benefits of being a RSA member so compelling. Giving members the opportunity to take part in   community outreach, volunteering and philanthropic efforts, is the whole point of the RSA. 


Value driven reward programmes

We discuss the value of reward programmes for retention in section 5. Value-driven reward programmes are pivotal for membership organisations as they are tailored to meet the specific needs and preferences of members. By offering rewards that align with the interests and objectives of the members, organisations enhance engagement and satisfaction. 

Additionally, value-driven reward programmes provide valuable insights into member behaviours and preferences, allowing organisations to fine-tune their offerings and improve overall membership experience.


Other value-driven benefits could include: 

  • Exclusive content and publications
  • Recognition and awards
  • Access to expert advice
  • Discounted services
  • Mentorship programmes
  • Certifications and accreditations
  • Special networking opportunities
  • Access to the latest research and industrial insights. 

Visit 8 Membership Incentive Ideas: Drive Engagement & Retention for further information.


Promoting these value-driven benefits across the marketing channels where prospective members visit, will help your membership acquisition programme.


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Strategy 4: Member Feedback and Surveys 

Gaining feedback from existing members is crucial for successful retention. The benefit of customer feedback is not lost on the majority of people, 91% believe it’s important for innovation

After all, your membership organisation is set out to accomplish a mission. No doubt the challenges to succeed in that mission constantly evolve. Your members are some of the brightest in your industry or the most passionate about your cause. They’re invested in the mission. Therefore, it’s a good idea to get their opinions about how the organisation can improve. 

One major advantage as a membership organisation is higher rapport with members. They will usually be more willing to share their thoughts. The best way to ask them for feedback depends on how and why you’re asking them. 

The How and Why

Asking for a review can take shape in multiple ways. The key is to keep it consistent with the usual channels you use. Of course, if you want to change this, that’s fine too. Just remember to keep the change consistent. 

For example, if you send monthly newsletters via email, use email to send out your survey. That covers the how, now time for the why…

The fundamental reason for why you’re asking for feedback is to improve the organisation so it can achieve its mission. Conveying that messaging to your members will resonate with them. 

Additionally, it could follow after a particular event. Ask them what went well with the event. What needs improving next time. Was there someone they met whose story they wanted to share with the rest of the organisation? How can the organisation help the cause even more with its next event? 

These types of questions resonate with members. It offers the opportunity for them to share their thoughts and give a voice to people they help who aren’t always heard.

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Strategy 5: Member Rewards

A membership benefits programme should definitely be on your radar if improving retention is a priority. A programme tailored to the interests and preferences of members can significantly contribute to the success and growth of your organisation. 

Focusing the programme on member recognition, personalised rewards and aligning it with their values, make rewards and the overall membership experience even more compelling and engaging. 


The ability to unlock rewards as a result of demonstrating loyalty, motivates 79% of customers to stay with brands. 


ISM Reward Programme 2
Independent Society of Musicians (ISM) loyalty and reward programme.
ISM Reward Programme 1
Independent Society of Musicians (ISM) loyalty and reward programme.


  • Enhanced Member Engagement: Encourages your members to actively participate, interact and stay involved to earn rewards.

  • Increased Member Retention: Rewards incentivise your members to renew their memberships and stay committed for a longer duration.

  • Attractive Value Proposition: Serves as an attractive value addition, making the membership more appealing and worthwhile for potential and existing members.

  • Data Collection and Insights: Provides valuable data on member preferences and behaviours, enabling the you to personalise offerings and improve strategies.

  • Member Satisfaction: Creates a sense of appreciation and value among your members, leading to higher levels of satisfaction and a positive perception of your organisation.

  • Word-of-Mouth Promotion: Happy members may promote the your organisation to others due to the positive experience gained from the rewards programme.

  • Opportunity for Upselling: Enables you to upsell higher-tier memberships by offering exclusive or superior rewards.

  • Community Building: Strengthens the sense of community and belonging among your members, creating a tighter-knit and engaged membership base.

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Strategy 6: Content Creation and Education

Creating educational content is one of the most effective member retention strategies. Educational content keeps members engaged, updated and improves chances of them renewing their memberships. That’s because it serves as a reminder why people are members of your organisation. 

When members learn more of the positive impact your organisation has made, they are more likely to renew their memberships. In addition, education content that’s unique and high-quality is a great point of differentiation. Allowing you to outshine competitors that fail to provide that special something your education content offers.


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Strategy 7: Exclusive Events and Networking

An exclusive networking event improves member retention due to their ability to offer opportunities and develop a sense of community. An overwhelming number of professionals agree that in-person conferences give attendees the best opportunities. 

But what many memberships may not realise about in-person events is the degree of personalisation they offer. After all, what’s more personal to people than a community (or tribe) and the connections they strike up at such events. It’s an integral part of their journey. Whether that be professional or as a representative of a cause that’s close to their heart. 

Your membership retention strategy should definitely include access to: 

  • Exclusive networking events
  • Fundraisers
  • Workshops
  • Community outreach sessions 
  • Anything else that’s important to your mission 

As these are powerful incentives for members to stay with your organisation. Especially when it can afford to give them opportunities and contacts they won’t find anywhere else. 

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Strategy 8: Data-Driven Decision Making

Membership management is a fundamental part of retention. Organisations need to master how they manage their members in order to boost membership retention rates. The best way to do this is to understand customer retention metrics and the ones you need to track

Accurate data about your members allows you to identify key segments and make data-driven decisions to improve your organisation. Couple that with feedback from members and the levels of innovation for your organisation will go unmatched. 

Management software such as a CRM or loyalty programme is the best way to handle data securely, accurately and efficiently. In fact, this type of software typically offers a whole host of benefits including customer-centric automation, actionable data dashboards and the ability to offer personalised and proactive customer communications, as outlined in this Salesforce article


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Strategy 9: Member Support and Engagement Teams 

Dedicated support and engagement teams are crucial for membership organisations as they play a central role in ensuring that members have a positive and fulfilling experience.

A dedicated support and engagement team is essential if you want to increase membership retention. As they provide assistance by answering questions, and address concerns quickly. This makes members feel valued and most importantly, supported. 

An effective support and engagement team needs: 

  • A clear mission and objective to define what effective support looks like. 

  • An assembled team with diverse skill sets ranging from communication, problem-solving, empathy, and expert knowledge on relevant subject matter.

  • Ongoing training and opportunities for professional development.

  • Clear roles and responsibilities to minimise overlap and ensure all aspects of support and engagement are covered. 

  • Technology and tools to streamline answers to queries and resolutions to concerns. CRMs and other types of member management software also allow the team to catch up with members.  

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Strategy 10: Continuous Adaptation and Improvement 

Ongoing assessment and adaptation are vital for membership organisations to improve and enhance member retention. Continual improvement ensures that you are able to continually meet the evolving needs of your members. Keeping an eye on membership trends will also help you stay on track when it comes to maximising member engagement and retention.

In the end, this leads to improved member satisfaction, growth and increased member lifecycle for every subscriber. A framework for continuous improvement should include the following:  


  • Define SMART objectives aligned with your organisation's mission.

  • Regularly gather member feedback through surveys, interviews, and data analysis as explored above.

  • Develop action plans with clear steps and timelines when you identify improvement areas. 

  • Encourage a culture of innovation by inviting members to share their experiences, thoughts and opinions on where the organisation can improve. 

  • Process reviews regularly and always after an event. 

  • Celebrate successes to boost morale of staff, volunteers and members. 

Using this framework will empower your organisation to adapt, thrive, and provide enduring value to your members, all of which result in better retention. 



Strategies to make your organisation thrive

Membership retention is about nurturing a vibrant community that shares your values and vision. It’s an essential part of any successful business or organisation. 

By recognising and celebrating your members, giving them value-driven benefits, and exceptional support, you position your organisation as a potential retention powerhouse. 

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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