Membership renewal time is the moment of truth. It’s like seeing the scorecard at the end of a sports competition. It doesn’t matter what kind of performance you think you delivered. Olympic judges or members—they’ll let you know what they think. Members will either renew or ghost you.
The terms “renewal” and “retention” get thrown around as if they were the same thing. But membership expert Elizabeth Engel, CAE, of Spark Consulting explains the difference.
“Membership retention is your goal—renewal is the process by which you achieve your goal… it’s a campaign that reminds members why they want to stick with you and asks them to invest in another year.”
What’s the difference between a retention rate and a renewal rate? It depends on whom you ask. Some people define them differently, but membership consultancy Marketing General Inc. (MGI) keeps it simple by defining them the same way, so we will too.
Here’s MGI’s formula for a renewal/retention rate. It tells you what percentage of members remained with the organization from twelve months earlier.
In case you’re wondering, the average association retention/renewal rates, per MGI’s 2023 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, are:
The retention rate is a primary indicator of association health. It reflects member engagement—however your members define that—and member perception of your value proposition.
A high membership renewal/retention rate is necessary to ensure your association’s:
In the MGI survey, association staff identified the top three reasons their members didn’t renew.
A few of these reasons are out of your control—people leaving the industry and company closures/mergers—but you can do something about the rest of them.
The renewal challenges identified by MGI can be solved with these membership strategies.
In a post full of renewal advice, Engel said:
“If you’ve been doing a good job with relationship building along the way… renewal should be basically a formality. You are already a vital partner in your members’ success. Paying up for another year is just the final step.”
Membership renewal is a crucial touchpoint in the member journey. After they pay—and only after—ask them to update their profile and answer a few quick poll questions that will help you understand them better.
Renewal is also the moment of truth. You’ll learn whether the member values what you offer and if you conveyed that value effectively. Find out how Impexium software can help your association improve the membership renewal process and all the engagement touchpoints leading up to renewal.
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