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While association recruitment strategies are vital for keeping the organization growing, evolving, and adopting fresh ideas, we can’t forget about retention. Without retained members, monthly revenue will be unpredictable, and the association’s culture will be kaput. As the adage goes, “Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other’s gold.” 

Recruiting new members feels shiny and sparkly, but continued service and engagement with your existing members are crucial for success and longevity. Read on for tips on how to increase membership renewals in your organization. 

Why Your Membership Renewals Matter

Associations rely on data to analyze just about every aspect of their operations – and the same should go for tracking membership renewal rates. 

For one, keeping your membership renewal consistent ensures your organization has a dependable revenue stream. This allows for expanded offerings and investments within the association, whether that be new courses or webinar experts to interview, guaranteeing that your membership creates value for members.

Similarly, membership renewal rates give you a temperature check on your organization. If there is a significant change from year to year, whether positive or negative, you can actively look at changes that might have had an impact and make adjustments accordingly. 

Top Strategies to Boost Renewals 

1. Create an easy association membership renewal process 

Just like you’d create a simple sales process to drive more revenue, if you want more renewals, you need to build a smooth, frictionless renewal experience. The easier the process is, the more likely the member is to renew. 

One way to make membership renewals easier is by setting up automated membership reminders and even renewals (as long as the opt-in option is clearly stated). You don’t want to earn renewals through sneaky tactics, but auto-renew options are convenient for members and often their method of choice. From car insurance to Netflix, the subscription economy is robust and something your members are simply accustomed to. This is something worth polling your members about to get their feedback. 

If you do adopt auto-renewals, be sure to BE TRANSPARENT about it. Send email notifications ahead of debits, and be sure to let them know they’ve opted in for automatic payments at the beginning of the process. No one wants to see an unexpected charge on their credit card bill! 

2. Always provide value with your membership

Members who are engaged and consistently see the value of their membership are more likely to renew. If members don’t feel like they’re getting much bang for their buck when paying dues, not renewing is an easy decision to make. You should be constantly assessing the benefits your association offers, as well as their popularity and what your members are most interested in. 

We’ve got a plethora of resources on effective membership engagement strategies! Check out these member engagement tips:

3. Fight forgetfulness with a multi-channel renewal campaign

According to data from the 2021 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, 29% of associations say the reason their members didn’t renew is that they forgot. Luckily, there’s an easy way to avoid that from happening. 

Automated renewal reminders should be a critical part of your email marketing strategy. A quality email will have all the information they need with a simple button that allows for one-click membership renewal. 

Association membership renewal email template 

Looking for some help with your email campaign? Here is an easy template to get started. 

Dear [member first name],

Thank you so much for supporting [association’s name]! You are an important part of our organization and we appreciate the time you’ve spent growing with us. 

We know you’re busy but did want to take a moment to remind you that your membership with us will expire on [date]. 

In the past year, you’ve achieved so much with us, including:

  • Course completion or webinar attendance [this is a great way to remind them of the value your membership has provided.]

We hope to see you remain a part of our [association name] community and are excited to see your continued growth. Best of all, renewal couldn't be easier – click here to renew today. 

Of course, if have any questions or need help in any way, feel free to reach out. 

[Your name]

[Your title]

This is also a great opportunity to test subject lines and copy so be sure to work with your marketing team to find an email campaign that works best. While email outreach is a powerful renewal tool, it shouldn’t be your one-and-done approach. For greater effectiveness, you should push renewals across multiple channels. 

For example, you can upload a list of members whose renewal dates are coming up, and target them with social media and display ads to remind them to renew. This helps them see your message even if they don’t receive your emails. You can also send automated SMS reminders, make phone calls, or send direct mail. 


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4. Identify members who are most likely to churn, and reach out

Your organization may already have a set of identifiers or data points that help you pinpoint members who are least likely to renew. Whether it’s because they haven’t attended an event in the last year, haven’t logged into their membership portal in a while, or are generally inactive, this list of high-risk members can be invaluable.

According to a post from Tasio, these data points can be pivotal in finding out what makes your members tick and why. “They also help you segment your lists and tailor your targeting strategies so you can best serve the wants and needs of your members.”

From there, you can create a list in your CRM of high-risk members, identify ways to add value – whether that be an upcoming webinar or recently added coursework – and reach out to them personally. 

A few months before their membership expires, check-in to see how they’re doing and remind them of the helpful solutions your association has tailored to their situation. Personalized communications with this member segment can help keep them on board. 

Tip: If the worst-case scenario occurs and your members leave, be sure to exit interviews with members. This will help you understand the most common reasons for not renewing and will better help you address the concerns and pain points of the members who are on your churn-risk list. 

5. Create flexible payment options

Sometimes, “it’s not you, it’s me” is true. Even though members may want to remain a part of your association, there may be issues outside of your organization affecting their ability to renew. Oftentimes, membership costs can be a barrier. Whether they lost their job or stopped receiving a stipend from their employer, if you have engaged members who want to stay connected to your community, it’s worth creating options for them. This could include an installment plan, monthly payment options, an extended grace period, or even some sort of sponsorship/scholarship. 

Be empathetic and flexible, and remember that this is likely a period in which they need your association’s resources the most. Being helpful during this time can help build loyalty and positive feedback for your organization. 

Improving Member Experience Takes Work

Overall, if you want to increase your association membership renewals, taking a people-first approach can help you continue to serve your members with value and flexibility that keeps them happy for the long term. If you’re not sure where to start, look to see where your membership interacts most. 

Do they like all your posts on social? Then maybe running targeted ads can help. Are you noticing your email clickthrough rate is on the decline? Experiment with different subjects and copy to see what resonates most with your membership.

Most importantly, make your association membership renewal process as easy as possible. Whether that means switching to an automatic subscription model or simply having a form with a lot less information, experiment to see what works best for your organization.

Emily Herrington
Post by Emily Herrington
October 11, 2021
Emily Herrington is a New Orleans-based digital marketer specializing in SEO, content, and pay-per-click advertising. She can usually be found at her desk obsessing over data and rankings, or in the kitchen covered in flour.