When it comes to member retention, much has changed in recent years  member expectations, communication methods, revenue streams, just to name a few. Still, one thing has stayed the same: Member retention is key to an association’s survival. 

But what exactly do members want? Why do some of them stay with their associations year after year while others drift away? 

We’ve made it easy for you to find out. We asked them. 

Community Brands conducted parallel surveys with more than 1,100 members of professional membership organizations and more than 400 professionals who work at those organizations (Pros). We then wrote up findings in the Member Engagement and Loyalty Study 

Here are five key findings from the study: 

1.Professional membership organizations must continuously prove their value.
Members who responded to the survey gave their organization stronger performance scores across the board than in studies we’ve done in years past. Those early in their careers are more likely to feel connected to their organization and be satisfied with membership. However, this does not mean an association’s job is done. This group is also less likely to commit to renewing and less likely to promote their association to their peers. To keep these members around long term, organizations must regularly prove their worth.

2. Members join organizations for different reasons than why they stay.
Networking, socializing, and job opportunities top the list of reasons members join. Job opportunities continue to be critically important to those members who are early in their career, while those who are mid-career find professional trainings most valuable. Over time, these benefits become less important, while other benefits – including code of ethics and timely industry information – become more valuable. 

3.Organizations have work to do around some benefits.
Members are satisfied with many of the benefits they consider most valuable: industry information, code of ethics, trainings, raising awareness, and advocacy. However, there are some areas that members value most where organizations have opportunities to improve: job opportunities, feedback loops, and representing member interests.

4.Organizations underemphasize the importance of job opportunities.
Job opportunities are one of the most important benefits to members from when they join through the early career stage. They’re also a priority for segments who are less loyal to their organization. On the flip side, Pros do not rank job opportunities at the same level of importance, nor do they say they offer a great member experience in this area.  

This disconnect suggests more time, attention, and marketing focus should be placed on how professional membership organizations help members get the right job and advance their career. 

5.Continuing education is not just for meetings and conferences anymore.
Meetings and conferences, which traditionally have focused on training and continuing education, are one area where Pros are very focused. They believe this is one of the most important and strongest benefits they offer members. Yet, members rate meetings and conferences as lower importance than Pros. 

Other studies from Community Brands shed light on this disconnect. They show that professional behaviors and preferences are evolving. They suggest that members learn through multiple modes versus relying only on the in-person annual conference for their continuing education. It may be time for organizations to emphasize additional learning opportunities, as well as other high-value member benefits, such as providing industry information and offering job opportunities. 

These are just some insights into how to improve your membership renewal rate. Subscribe to our blog below to learn more.


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