January 10, 2023   |   Vol. 22   |   Issue 1
By Tony Rossell, MGI Sr. Vice President

What Drives Membership Growth?

Each year the Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report aims to help associations meet their growth challenges by sharing statistically valid insights to build successful programs. The survey to gather data for the 2023 report has just launched, and your participation will be appreciated. In the meantime, we wanted to share some of the top findings from the 2022 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report.

Here are some of our top findings from our previous research on what drives membership growth.

Providing compelling value to members is a primary driver of membership growth. In our research, we asked associations, "How compelling is your association’s value proposition?" Demonstrating a continued positive trend, 53% of associations believe their value proposition to be compelling or very compelling. When an association delivers good value, we see a correlation with growth. Associations reporting increases in membership levels and those with a renewal rate of 80% or higher are more likely to believe their value proposition to members is compelling or very compelling.

Focusing on organizational innovation is another vital driver of membership growth. Association executives reporting increases in membership levels are significantly more likely to consider their association extremely or very innovative. The report’s data show that nearly three-quarters of associations have increased virtual professional development opportunities (73%). Additionally, more than half of associations have developed new products and services (62%), re‑evaluated and streamlined internal processes (59%), and expanded their marketing efforts (54%).

Adding more new members to the top of the funnel is one of the critical drivers of total membership growth. Associations reporting increases in their one-year and five-year membership numbers are significantly more likely to report increases in new member acquisition. Similarly, those reporting declines in the same areas are considerably more likely to report declines in new members. You can find insights on how to add new members in MGI’s book, Membership Recruitment.

Increasing funding for marketing efforts is critical to membership growth. The report highlights that a significant percentage of associations have increased their budgets. With these marketing budget increases, there is a correlation to better results. Associations reporting increases in membership over the past year have increased their budgets for awareness, recruitment, and engagement. Conversely, those reporting declines in the same metrics tend to have decreased their budgets in these areas.

Both these statistics and our experience in the marketplace reaffirm that when associations apply the best practices identified and discussed in this report, they tend to see success in growing their membership.

If you need help with your membership program, let’s talk. Contact Tony Rossell, Senior Vice President, at tony@marketinggeneral.com or 703-706-0360.

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