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3 Reasons Why Members Quit (And What to Do About It)

Aug 7, 2018

A robust, engaged membership means a thriving association. But if members are jumping ship, your association might be in trouble.

For any association, retaining members is just as important as recruiting new ones. Here are three of the top reasons why members leave and how you can encourage them to stay.

1. They Don’t See Value

Value is the cornerstone of any robust membership. Think of it as ROI on dues: what resources, products, or services does your association offer in return for investment in your organization? Do they offer enough value? Do they offer the right kind of value?

Keep in mind the distinction between perception of value versus actual value offered. For the former, you may need to employ communication and engagement strategies so members recognize value and get involved (see #2 below). However, if your membership package actually is lacking in value, you need to add more programs and services—fast!

Practical tip: Survey your membership. Ask one simple question: What is your biggest challenge at work right now? If the responses coalesce around a certain answer, that’s your starting point. Introduce a member benefit that alleviates the problem.

2. They Aren’t Engaged

You can offer the most amazing benefits, but if members aren’t participating they won’t stay very long. Not only must associations offer value, they have to deliver that value to members. It’s like the famous “silent” falling tree: if your members aren’t taking advantage of the value your association offers, does it offer any value at all?

Communication is crucial in engaging members. Associations need to regularly communicate the value they offer. Use newsletters, e-blasts, snail mail, social media—whatever channel will reach your members. If anything, overcommunicate. Members might be unaware of some of the most valuable parts of membership. And that may be the one offering that could push them to renew.

Practical tip: Set up a member participation points program. Each time a member participates in an association program, give them a certain amount of points. Then allow them to trade in their points for free meeting registrations or another incentive. This method not only rewards members for participating, it also allows you to identify at-risk members who aren’t participating and may need some special attention

3. They Haven’t Built Relationships

Remember, members are people! Just like a family or group of friends, members who share personal relationships tend to stick together. If they feel connected to the association, they’re much more likely to stick around.

Associations have a unique advantage in relationship-building. People can get education or professional training about any place—increasingly, the internet. What associations can offer is face-to-face interaction with people who have similar careers and interests. Associations bring people together by their very definition. It’s up to you to create the conditions for personal relationships to flourish within your organization.

Practical tip: Allow new members and/or at-risk members to attend your annual meeting or another big event for free. Meetings are usually the best opportunity that associations offer for face-to-face interaction, so do what you need to do to get your members there. Once they’re together, relationships should grow naturally.

If your membership is lagging, try a few of these tips. If you still need help with retaining members, TMG can help.

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