retain association members


The success of an association depends on the satisfaction of its members. While growing your membership is crucial, it is equally important to retain association members. Besides, it is cost-effective to win-back members instead of running campaigns for new memberships. Members usually leave an association due to lack of engagement, economic hardships, and lack of value. Surprisingly, some forget to renew their membership. Reduced retention rate is bad news for any association. Luckily, most of the reasons for attrition are preventable. So, how can you improve membership retention?

1. Retain association members through engagement

One of the main reasons why members fail to renew membership is due to the lack of participation. Therefore, you need to keep members engaged as soon as they join the association. If you wait to re-engage them when they are halfway out of the door, you may end up losing them. How do you keep members hooked to the association? The first step is to identify those who are not active. Something as simple as a win-back email can get them to participate in more activities. However, you should be careful not to spam your members with irrelevant content.

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2. Focus on individual needs

Members joined the association with a goal in mind. Finding out their expectations will help you to retain association members. You can collect data from surveys and website visits. New members are usually the ones at risk of leaving. Therefore, you can conduct an assessment a few months after joining. Members’ feedback can also help you to realign your association’s goals with theirs. For instance, most people in the medical field join associations to network with members of their profession. Therefore, if you do not provide avenues for networking, they will be disappointed.

3. Start your renewal process early

One of the leading causes of members lapsing is forgetting to renew their membership. You need to send reminders to existing members a few months before their renewal is up. You can also encourage them to set up automated renewal to make their life easier. Besides, your renewal process should be straightforward. No one likes to fill out their information every time they are subscribing to a membership. Ditch the renewal forms and cheques for online payment methods. Besides, it will save you from handling a lot of paperwork.

4. Promote

Some associations give little attention to onboarding members. New members may not be aware of the benefits of your association. If people do not know what you are offering, they will eventually leave thinking that they are not getting value for their money. You can use email marketing to educate members of their benefits. You can also promote your benefits on social media and online forums. However, marketing campaigns will not bear fruits if you are not providing an exceptional membership experience. Excellent customer service and loyalty are the pillars of thriving membership organisations.

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5. Seek feedback from lapsed members

Do you remember how human resource managers conduct exit interviews for their employees? Those interviews are effective in reducing employee turnover. An exit interview is a perfect idea for associations. You get insights on how to improve your services in the future. The most important part is implementing the feedback you get. If you affect positive changes based on the information collected, chances are you will not conduct exit interviews anytime soon.

6. Encourage participation in online forums

The internet offers numerous benefits to associations. It is an excellent platform for building an online community for your members. You can leverage the technology to collect data and enhance members’ touchpoints. When a new member joins the online forum, you need to collect data on their interaction with your platform. You can then tailor your email campaign to suit their needs. Online communities bring professionals together, giving them a safe space to learn, network, and receive mentorship. You can encourage discussions and offer resources that add value. Relevant resources will keep the members hooked to your association.

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7. Have a flexible renewal plan

Tough economic times can make a member re-evaluate their priorities. While you cannot change the financial situation of a member, you need to make the association indispensable. If members see the value, you will increase membership retention. You can also retain association members by giving special offers and restructuring the payment plan.

You cannot guarantee member retention with a single approach. However, if you build a better relationship with members and provide value, you will reduce members’ lapse significantly. Get in touch with our association management team at Congrex Switzerland for tailormade solutions.


Congrex Switzerland is an internationally operating agency delivering customised solutions. This encompasses the overall organisation of conferences and meetings, including the management of hotel rooms and the strategic consultancy. Annually Congrex Switzerland organises approximately 45 events with over 73’000 delegates. Amongst our clients are international associations, governmental organisations and corporations.

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