Over the years I have served on the Boards and Committees of several professional associations. It’s great networking, and the meetings are usually great learning opportunities. I often get asked to serve on the Membership Committee due to the nature of my ‘customer relationship’ work. The challenge facing associations is often the same – how to grow and maintain financial stability.
With each association I typically go through a very basic exercise as a starting point for understanding the membership. Keep in mind that most of the people that run these groups are volunteers, with limited resources, so I need to keep things simple. Here are the steps I typically go through:
- Ask for a list of all current members and the data fields in the membership database. This should have fields such as name, title, contact info, company, start date, renewal date, etc.
- Next ask for monthly data that includes the total number of current members, past members, and new members.
- Ask for a list of all past members, including contact info, start date, and end date of membership.
- Ask for monthly meeting data such as number and names of members and guests at the last several monthly meetings.
Next, my goal is to use this data to get a quick “pulse check” of the health of the membership, improve our retention rate, and grow the membership. Here is how we will use the data I have requested:
- The current membership list will be used to calculate average tenure of the membership. I will do the same with the list of all past members to see if we are currently losing long-term members or short-term members who may have signed up for a membership and then realized the organization is not for them. If you have captured the reason why members don’t renew, consider yourself very lucky!
- The current membership list will then be sorted by renewal date. This can be used to implement a variety of contact campaigns to alert members that their renewal is coming due, and to remind them of the value your association provides.
- The monthly data will allow you to see trends and calculate a churn rate. Is your membership count increasing? Is it coming from more new members, or fewer lost members?
- The dropped member list can used if you have the appetite to undertake a “win-back” campaign. Your organization may be re-branding itself or refining it’s direction. Once this is done you can contact past members and invite them back.
- The breakdown of members/guests at meetings will help you understand the financial impact of a membership. This will allow you to calculate the average number of meetings a member attends. Using your cost/member/meeting you can see if you need to adjust membership fees. You can also see what guests attend each meeting and suggest that a membership may be a better deal for them.
Once you nail your reporting needs, and measures of performance, you can get everyone on-board with growing your association and enjoying the benefits of all your hard work.