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6 Top Tips To Supercharge Member Retention

Updated: Feb 3

The success of your association rests not just on acquiring new members; it rests on cultivating a loyal, engaged, and thriving member community. In this article, we delve into the significance of member retention, highlight key terms for measuring it, provide real-world statistics, and offer 6 top tips to supercharge member retention for your association.

Why Member Retention Matters

It's time to board the retain train! Member retention is as important, if not more important, than member acquisition. Quite simply, the value to your association of renewed members is higher than that of new members.

A case study of a membership organisation by IMPACTS Experience—a company focussed on delivering actionable, real-time intelligence to non-profits— concluded that over a five year period the average net value of their retained member was 66.1% greater then that of an acquired member.

"During the five-year assessed duration, the average net value of a retained member was 66.1% greater then that of an acquired member." - Colleen Dilenschneider, IMPACTS Experience

So, while recruiting mountains of members is clearly a good thing, nurturing a thriving community of long-term members holds even greater value, and potential, for your association. Here's why, according to the case study.

  • Cost: The average cost to acquire a new member is five times the cost of keeping an existing member.

  • Value: The average total value of a renewed member was worth 35.7% more than that of the average total value of a newly acquired member.

  • Net revenue: The average net value of a retained member was 66.1% greater then that of an acquired member.

Further, studies by Bain & Company into the B2B market have concluded that a modest 5% percent increase in retention can drive increased profits of between 25-95%. This is because current customers are predisposed to investing in your new programmes. Simply put, they are 50% more likely to try new services, and they spend 31% more than new customers, on average.

Bain's study concluded that this predisposition means the likelihood of securing a sale to an existing customer is 60-70%, versus the likelihood of selling to a new customer of 5-20%.

There's A Hole In My (Member Retention) Bucket

Leaky Bucket Theory (Ehrenberg, 1988) is used to describe the syndrome of acquiring members into a leaky bucket and, instead of preventing them from leaking away through the bottom, continuing to top up the bucket with new members instead.

Essentially, to operate and survive, associations must recruit an equal number of members to those that churn in order to keep the bucket full. However, in order to grow and thrive, associations must become particularly adept at plugging their member retention holes with impactful and sustainable strategies.

A musical score for There's A Hole In My Bucket
Rooted 1700's Germany, the children's song 'There's A Hole In My Bucket' describes Henry's numerous attempts to find a solution through his friend Liza's advice, but he is unsuccessful in coming up with a solution

Take Henry (Harry Belafonte) and Liza (Odetta Holmes) and the deadlock situation in which they find themselves during their rendition of the children's classic 'There's A Hole In My Bucket'...

Henry's strategy is to make Liza aware there is a problem with the bucket. Liza responds by keeping Henry accountable for fixing the problem.

To be successful, move away from member retention as being a 'top-down' association-wide commitment. You must build member retention into the core of your organisation. Everybody is accountable for member retention!

Cue the fabled back and forth between Henry and Liza. Straw that's too long. An axe that's too dull. A whetstone that's to dry.

How amusing! But what we're actually witnessing here is a masterclass in procrastination and finger-pointing. Instead of taking a step back and pausing for thought, Henry and Liza are lurching from quick fix to quick fix with no impact.

And Henry's back to the beginning with his leaky bucket. This is commonly referred to as a deadlock situation.

When it comes to member retention don't let staff, executives, or the board of directors pass the buck. Have your board build it into their long-range strategy. Have your executive include it in their tactics for addressing challenges and problems. Have your staff embed into their everyday operations. And incentivise your members through consistently valuable programming, loyalty, referral, and reward schemes.

What Benchmarks Exist To Measure Retention?

Acknowledging that to ensure a healthy and engaged membership base, it's essential to not only attract new members but also retain existing ones, what does good member retention look like?

  • According to the Community Brands Member Loyalty Study a member retention rate above 90% is generally considered strong. This suggests that the majority of members find value in the association's offerings and are motivated to continue their membership.

  • The American Society of Association Executives' (ASAE) Association Operations Survey Report suggests that a retention rate between 80% and 90% falls into the fair range. While there's room for improvement, this indicates that the association is still effectively retaining a substantial portion of its members.

  • A retention rate below 80% signals poor member retention, according to Marketing General Incorporated's Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report. This could be due to a variety of factors, including lack of engagement, perceived value, or a disconnect between member needs and association offerings.

Crucially, MGI's report also highlights a correlation between poor member retention and new member acquisition, with associations indicating overall membership renewals at or above 80% are significantly more likely to report membership increases over 10% vs. associations with new member renewal rates under 60% tending to report declines of 10% or more in overall membership.

6 Top Tips For Supercharging Member Retention

So here they are, 6 Top Tips for Supercharging Member Retention. Putting these into practice will help you to create a thriving community of engaged members who feel valued, connected, and increasingly likely to stay with you for the long-term.

#1: Regularly Measure and Analyse Member Engagement

To continuously improve your member retention strategy, it's important to measure and analyse how your members are engaging. Use analytics tools and membership management software to track key metrics such as membership renewal rates, engagement levels, and feedback scores. Identify patterns and trends to gain insights into what is working well and areas that need improvement. Regularly review your data and make data-driven decisions to optimise your retention strategies and ensure long-term member satisfaction.

#2: Create Value-Oriented Tiered Offerings

Assess and refine your programming and services to ensure you provide tangible value to members. This could include relevant educational resources, networking opportunities, exclusive content, discounts, and access to industry insights. Also consider how a tiered membership structures enables you to segment members based on their appetite, involvement, or interests to tailor benefits and engagement efforts more effectively.

Three people pointing at a laptop screen
Remember that member retention is a continuous process. Stay proactive, adapt to changing member needs, and continuously refine your strategies to ensure ongoing success and growth

#3: Promote Authentic Diversity, Equity, And Inclusion

Affinity groups are a powerful way to retain members. By creating specialised communities centred around shared interests or identities you foster a strong sense of belonging and comradery. Such a community-oriented approach helps prospective members feel welcomed and understood, increasing the likelihood of their retention. Being authentic in your intent and measurements around diversity, equity, and inclusion creates an inclusive environment that appeals to a broader range of members. This could involve diversifying leadership, offering content that speaks to various backgrounds, and promoting equitable opportunities.

#4: Foster A Sense Of Community

Building a strong sense of community is essential for member retention. Create opportunities for members to connect and interact with each other, both online and offline. This can be done through forums, social media groups, networking events, and member-exclusive meetups. Encourage members to share their experiences, ask questions, and provide support to one another. By fostering a sense of belonging and community, you will create a valuable and inclusive environment that members will want to be a part of.

#5: Know Your Members

Your members' needs and desires are continually evolving, reflecting their personal growth, professional development, and career aspirations. To build a successful membership retention strategy, it's essential to understand the goals and expectations of your members. Conduct surveys, engage in conversations, and collect feedback to gain insights into what your members value the most. By understanding their pain points and desires, you will tailor your offerings to meet their specific needs.

#6: Provide Exceptional Member Services

Exceptional customer service plays a crucial role in member retention. Ensure that your members have a smooth and seamless experience throughout their membership journey. Respond to their inquiries and concerns promptly and provide personalised solutions whenever possible. Make it easy for members to reach out to you through various channels, such as email, phone, or live chat. By providing excellent customer service, you demonstrate your commitment to your members' satisfaction and build trust and loyalty.

We're Revolutionising Association Management Software

Modern AMS is not just an option; it's a necessity. Your AMS must act as a driving force, streamlining operations, enhancing member engagement, and unlocking new growth opportunities. By investing in sociatio, your association positions itself as an industry disruptor, ensuring long-term success and a thriving community of engaged members.

Don't settle for mediocrity; embrace the power of sociatio today! Discover how our state-of-the-art association management software can revolutionise your operations, supercharge member engagement, and unlock new revenue streams.

Are you ready to deliver a sustainable, premium membership experience? Are you ready to help your staff work smarter, not harder? We're revolutionising association management software. So visit our website today to learn more about sociatio, the AMS platform created by association leaders for association leaders.

Help Us To Help You

Take a moment and give us feedback on through our quick poll. Your answers are anonymous. You can vote for more than one answer. Feel free to comment below. And get in touch with us if you'd like to share more. Thank you!

Which of these 6 tips are you keen to try? Leave a comment telling us why.

  • 0%Regularly Measure and Analyse Member Engagement

  • 0%Create Value-Oriented Tiered Offerings

  • 0%Promote Authentic Diversity, Equity, And Inclusion

  • 0%Foster A Sense Of Community

You can vote for more than one answer.


Case study "The Value of New vs. Renewed Members" by Colleen Dilenschneider.

Children's song "There's A Hole In My Bucket" by Harry Belafonte and Odetta. Study by Bain & Company, along with Earl Sasser of the Harvard Business School. Member Loyalty Study by Community Brands. Operations Survey Report by ASAE. Marketing Benchmarking Report by Marketing General, Inc. Image from Unsplash by John Schnobrich.


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