How Does Your Association Compare?

July 25, 2017   |   Vol. 16   |   Issue 8
Tony Rossell, MGI Senior Vice President

How Does Your Association Compare?

Marketing General has just released the 9th annual Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report. Learn how your association compares to others, and what best practices are being implemented across the industry!

MGI’s research team surveyed association executives in an effort to provide benchmarks by which association leadership can evaluate their own membership programs and learn about best practices in membership marketing. This year 1005 distinct organizations participated in the survey.

The headline for this year’s report is that once again, many more associations are reporting an increase in their membership (46%) compared to those citing a membership decline (25%). These outcomes directly challenge the narrative that membership–as a product–and professional and trade associations–as a category–are in decline.

In addition to the increases reported in total membership counts, 68% of associations report renewal rates of 80% or higher and 45% of associations report increases in their new member acquisitions.

However, associations are still facing significant challenges. The biggest external challenges often include the cost of membership, competing associations, declining employer budgets, and, for trade associations, industry consolidation.

At the same time, associations face many internal challenges, including difficulty communicating value, insufficient staff, and difficulty proving ROI.

Maintaining membership growth is challenging and requires constant innovation. The good news, though, is that the analysis of this year’s data also highlights signs of vibrancy helping to drive membership growth.

New technology is helping associations market more broadly and effectively; specifically, there has been a rapid adoption of online digital marketing including Facebook paid advertising, search engine ads (pay-per-click), and more.

Additionally, associations are more effectively reaching out to upcoming generations of members. Associations reporting an increase in membership over the past year, the past five years, and an increase in overall renewals are significantly more likely to have a higher percentage of Millennials as members.

Finally, another driver building more vibrant memberships has been engaging members with new products and services that deliver what members want, when they want it.

Many traditional membership offerings–volunteerism, insurance, or book sales–have shown decreasing engagement, while associations report members have increased use of offerings like public and private social networks, webinars, and certifications. In other words, increasing engagement has been driven by change and innovation and not relying on the services of the past.

As a whole, the 2017 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report continues to highlight growth and resilience for membership associations.

If you are attending ASAE’s Annual Meeting, visit MGI at booth #303 and pick up a free hard copy of the report!

You can also access the full report right now by visiting to download your free copy.

For more information or if you are interested in a more formal, customized analysis of how your association compares to industry standards, please contact Tony Rossell at or 703.706.0360.

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