Making a Case for Monthly Membership Auto-Renewal

Charlotte Muylaert

October 10, 2017

    With #AUC2017 less than two weeks away, we are thrilled to share with you a series of guest blog posts courtesy of some of those who are sponsoring this year’s Aptify Users Conference! This is a guest blog post by Charlotte Muylaert of Billhighway. Thank you for sponsoring, and we look forward to seeing you in Las Vegas.

    By now, you’re probably somewhat convinced that a monthly membership auto-renewal plan would offer several benefits to your members, association, and chapters. And while talk about auto-renewals might be everywhere, there’s little information out there as to how to make a case for it.

    Until now…

    Making the Case for Auto-Renewal

    To prepare for your presentation to the board, consider these talking points that highlight how members and staff will benefit from this new payment option:

    • Impact to staff time
    • Impact on retention
    • Impact on perceived member value 

    Keep in mind…if you have chapters, what would a 46 percent increase in retention mean for the entire organization?

    Supplement your talking points with case studies and data from other associations that have adopted monthly auto-renewal payments. We’ve linked to some success stories throughout a previous series highlighting why auto-renewals are a good option and how to know if they’re right for your organization. Ask for additional examples on association forums, like ASAE’s Collaborate. Or feel free to ask us, we can connect you with organizations who are currently in this process.

    Anticipate Any Objections to Auto-Renewal

    Expect and be prepared for objections to arise.

    Resistance from non-users

    You may encounter board members or staff who don’t use auto-renewal memberships in their personal lives and will therefore be resistant to the idea. Sometimes people can’t imagine others behaving in ways they don’t.

    For example, in a comment on Associations Now, one association executive said, “It’s just a gimmick to make it more difficult for members to end their memberships. I would not sign up for a perpetual membership in any organization (even ASAE). I’ll join for a specified period and then decide whether or not to renew.”

    That contrarian attitude is still out there, so be ready for it. But the monthly auto-renewing membership is becoming a part of life for more and more people, including your members.

    Concerns about merchant fees

    Run the numbers to see if a concern about additional credit card fees is valid.

    The American School Counselors Association monthly dues rate is $12.95 x 12 = $155.40/year—higher than the yearly dues of $129. The extra cost covers the additional fees incurred.

    When the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors started offering auto-renewal, Seth Ewing, assistant vice president of membership, said, “There were some concerns over the increase in bank fees associated with a monthly charge versus a one-time payment. However, the increased retention rate eased these worries.”

    Worries that members will find it easy to cancel

    Cancelling a membership is usually a value decision. Half of the associations participating in Marketing General Incorporated’s (MGI) 2016 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, said the top reason members didn’t renew was because they “could not justify memberships costs with any significant ROI” or because of “lack of value.” In other words, members cancel when you don’t provide enough return on their dues investment.

    The silver lining? The opportunity to contact non-renewing members to confirm their cancellation and learn why they’re unhappy. It could simply be the fact that they’re leaving the profession or location you serve. But if not, you’ll receive valuable information. As a bonus, your call gives them a second chance to reconsider their decision to leave.

    Moving Forward

    Regardless of the hurdles you face, auto-renewals are an important component to staying current with payment trends and aligned with member expectations that will continue to grow and evolve. 

    Blog Subscribe