Retention is important for all types of organizations. Retailers want to retain loyal customers, universities want to retain students beyond freshman year, employers want to retain top talent, and associations and nonprofit organizations want to retain existing members.
The reason is simple – it costs less to retain a customer, student, employee, or member than to identify, recruit, and onboard new people.
This doesn’t mean that associations should focus only on renewing memberships, but renewals should be prioritized over gaining new members, especially in the difficult economic situation many members and their companies are now experiencing.
One of the most important steps to take is to demonstrate the value that the association brings to each member. The New Mexico Dental Association compiled a list of value-added services, How Does the NMDA Help You?, in a recent issue of the association’s magazine. The article succinctly lists the services that are top-of-mind for its dental practice members who are maneuvering the myriad of re-opening changes following COVID-19.
Because most companies and individuals are evaluating their budgets to determine the best use of decreased revenue or income, look for ways to show the return-on-investment of association services. Quantify the value of webinars, conferences, or training materials that are provided free or at a significant discount to members; identify the potential cost savings as a result of successful advocacy efforts to limit red tape or control costs of licenses and permits; or highlight the potential savings available to members through partner discount programs.
When it comes to the cost of membership, the following six strategies should be evaluated to see if offering different options for renewal might help with the financial constraints some members are facing today:
- Defer payment 90 to 120 days to allow time for income to rebound
- Split payments in two, three or four equal payments over the year
- Allow automatic payments to credit cards and/or bank accounts for monthly payments
- Reset the renewal to a specific date in the future to allow time for the business to recover
- Offer financial assistance in the form of a membership grant or scholarship based on longevity or volunteer contributions to the association
- Provide a discount – 2% to 5% for every year of membership, for example