MGI Tipster – Volume 12, Issue 4

April 18, 2013   |   Vol. 12   |   Issue 4
The Membership Dashboard and how to use it

It may be trite but it’s tried and true: to know where you are going, you have to know where you are and where you’ve been. This age-old adage certainly applies to membership organizations.

By their very nature—and as a matter of survival—associations should continually reexamine their recruitment and retention procedures, study their histories, and apply the lessons learned to improve their membership marketing practices in the future.

Consistent measurements, most often monthly, of several stages of the Membership Lifecycle help keep an organization focused on the areas that need attention and not be distracted by those that don’t.

Enter the Membership Dashboard

The Membership Dashboard is a proven, simple to use marketing tool that highlights key membership characteristics and tracks growth with sufficient detail to be actionable. The Dashboard reveals trends, exposes strengths and weaknesses at key points in member tenure, and can be a valuable guide for an organization’s future marketing efforts.

All that the Dashboard requires is the steady, consistent collection of accurate data to produce knowledge that most membership organizations consider essential.

Data input

Here are the components of the dashboard, the information you will need to enter:

  • Total Membership – Current Membership in all categories of the association collected month-by-month and compared to membership month-by-month in the previous year.
  • New Members by month – Current New Members compared to new members the same month the year before.
  • Membership Conversion by month – First year members who are eligible to renew are called “conversions,” because it is the critical moment in membership when fledgling members decide whether to stay or leave. For most organizations, first year members are the most likely cohort not to continue. Using the Dashboard, these new memberships are compared month-by-month to first year members in earlier years to see how they are trending. This is calculated by: renewing new members / eligible to renew new members.
  • Year Two and subsequent renewals (Y2+) by month – Y2+ members eligible to renew are compared to Y2+ members who actually do renew. This is calculated by: Y2+ renewing members / members eligible to renew to measure year two retention rates.
  • Total Renewals by month – Total members eligible to renew vs. total members who actually do renew to measure total retention rates.

The Dashboard design

The membership dashboard’s layout is straightforward. Columns list the months and rows contain the collected data that is entered into the dashboard. Some cells contain formulas that calculate percentages of change for the user which should not be overwritten.

The Dashboard design

The charts beneath the Dashboard itself use graphics to summarize and illustrate the data, giving managers a better perspective on trends that are tracked by this management tool.

Membership Types

Associations with several membership levels or types are able to use the Dashboard’s detail to aggregate membership statistics in the uppermost tab of the spreadsheet. Users may also add additional spreadsheet tabs to accommodate additional membership categories.

Once the Dashboard is in place, the Dashboard can identify if an association is “holding” or “leaking” members and at what stage it’s happening. The Dashboard can help pinpoint where within the Membership Lifecycle the association is growing or not growing, whether it is because new member input is up or down or because of good or bad retention rates.


It is said that history repeats itself; however, those who don’t keep records will never know if it does or not. Planning for the future is difficult enough; without a notion of what was and what is, it’s almost impossible to predict what will be.

The Membership Dashboard serves marketers well, bringing to light strengths and places where attention is needed.

Download the Dashboard

Go to to retrieve your copy of the Membership Dashboard. It is in an Excel format.

For further information about the Membership Dashboard, contact MGI Senior Vice President Tony Rossell at or 703.706.0360.

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