Membership Benchmarking Report


August 2010 Inview

Membership Health of Associations Subject of New Report

Marketing General Inc.'s (MGI) 2010 Membership Benchmarking Report is a summary of the membership health of the association industry, as well as the strategies associations most often use to grow their memberships. Over 400 associations participated in the 2010 survey.

Comparing results from the 2009 and 2010 surveys, associations this year reported that they were having trouble acquiring new members, renewing the members that they had, and growing the overall membership count compared to last year. Membership renewals saw the most substantial drop-off compared to last year. In 2009, 31 percent of responding associations reported that renewal rates for their organizations had decreased in the previous year. In 2010, 44 percent of associations reported a decline in renewal rates. That's a 41 percent jump from the year before.

On the positive side, membership acquisition this past year showed more resiliency than renewals. A total of 62 percent of associations still reported that new member input in 2010 has either increased or remained the same from the previous year. But this is still lower than the 71 percent of associations who reported this in 2009.

Clearly, when renewal rates are down and new member input is declining, it will come as no surprise that total membership for associations is also reported to be down from 2009. This year 57 percent of all associations reported that membership was still up over the past five years, but only 36 percent said that membership numbers were up for the past year.

The membership story is even more challenging for trade associations. In the research, respondents were asked to identify their association by their membership structure (trade or organizational, individual, or both). When we cross-tabulated structure with membership growth, MGI found that 43 percent of individual membership associations had experienced membership growth in the past year, but only 26 percent of trade associations saw growth.

The report cross-tabulates specific marketing practices with membership results to determine which practices work best for each stage of the membership lifecycle. New to the 2010 survey are responses on the effectiveness of using social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

While the report is designed to evaluate the success of various marketing practices, it cautions that there are literally thousands of variables that impact membership results and that no one activity or practice is the solution. The report includes dozens of key findings that will allow association executives to gain insight and direction for effective membership marketing programs.

A free download of the report is available from the MGI website,

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