Insights from the 2023 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report

By Tony Rossell, Senior Vice President

We received a lot of good feedback from our recent webinar presenting the results of the 2023 edition of the MGI Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report. If you missed the webinar, you can access it here. Some of those who attended asked for additional information on the significant findings from our study. So, here is a short recap.

Certainly, the most significant finding from our research was the substantial rebound respondents shared with us in the membership counts. A total of 49% of associations reported an increase in their total membership numbers. In contrast, only 22% of respondents shared that their membership had declined, and this declining percentage is one of the lowest in the 15-year history of our benchmarking.

In the webinar, we took a deeper dive, presenting the drivers for this rebound. Each year, the report not only presents the numbers reported by 800 participating associations but also analyzes what practices and activities correlate with associations experiencing this membership growth. This year, our data highlighted several drivers correlated with membership increases.

Associations finding success in membership acquisition again led the way with its correlation with overall membership increases. 50% of associations showed an increase in new member acquisitions. Over the years, we have found that a much higher percentage of associations experiencing higher levels of new member acquisition are also more likely to have overall increases in membership. Recruitment is the lever for total growth.

Not surprisingly, the value provided by an association also correlated with increases in membership. Associations that reported a very compelling or compelling value proposition were more likely to see increases in their 1-year and five-year membership counts and renewal rates. In contrast, those who said that their value proposition was not very or not at all compelling are more likely to report declines in five-year membership counts and new members. The challenge for associations is not that they do not have value – the median renewal rates this year were 85%. Associations reported that articulating value was the challenge. Doing market research to build an understanding of the value members are receiving will be a critical opportunity for associations in the coming year.

Another robust correlation with growth centers on the innovation level of the association. Once again, associations reporting increases in one-year and five-year membership were more likely to say that their organization was extremely or very innovative. The two most frequently cited new initiatives–developing one or more new membership benefits (48%) and expanding to audiences beyond our core members (31%)–correlate with membership growth.

The complete Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report includes over 70 pages of data on best practices related to members' recruitment, engagement, renewal, and reinstatement. We also explore specific topics, including,

  • How much did membership marketing budgets increase?
  • Which products and services are driving member participation?
  • How many associations are raising membership dues?


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