• Top Membership Recruitment, Engagement and Retention Trends in 2024

    Crafting a succinct and compelling member value proposition is just the first step in optimizing recruitment, retention and engagement practices, but how many associations actually take the time to define and review their value propositions? How many associations communicate this value effectively?

    Last fall, CSAE, in partnership with Bramm Research Inc., conducted the 2024 CSAE Membership Trends Survey to study recruitment, engagement and retention trends within member-based associations. It drilled down into how associations with an increase in membership and member engagement performed compared to associations with declining membership and low member engagement.

    Find out the key highlights of the 2024 CSAE Membership Trends Report by reading on: 

    Change in Membership 

    According to the survey, the association sector has seen success with most associations reporting a growth in membership. About 50% of the associations noticed an increase in membership in the past 18 months, compared to the 15% that noticed a decrease in membership. According to Gerald Bramm, the increase in membership may be attributed to associations bouncing back after the pandemic when they witnessed a general decline. In a recent interview with CSAE, Bramm says, “many associations were struggling during the pandemic because they didn’t have their usual channels or avenues of recruitment in terms of live events.”  

    Those associations with declining membership faced challenges in recruiting members due to improper communication outreach and failure to convey the value and benefits of membership. However, some of them found benefit in offering members a conference/convention discount. Interestingly, those organizations with a minimal 10+% increase in membership credited word of mouth as the most effective channel for member recruitment.

    Member Value Proposition

    According to the report, larger organizations and professional associations showed an increase in membership which also includes associations that cited having a compelling member value proposition (MVP). These high-growth associations also regularly review their MVP. This was confirmed by Bramm when he said, “Only 26% of associations found their MVP to be very compelling thus highlighting the fact that these association executives must be doing something different than the rest.” 

    It is evident from the report that associations need to tailor their MVP according to the career level of the members. This includes catering to the short-term and long-term goals of individual and group members. In addition, the report concluded that networking was the most important reason why individuals signed up for membership at an association.  

    At CSAE, we communicate value by adopting a member-centric approach and talking about benefits rather than features. For example, “educational programs” and “conferences” are features, but “network building” and “professional development” are benefits. “Insurance services” is a feature, but “cost-savings,” “sector-specificity” and “dedicated support” are benefits. An unwavering focus on member needs helps communicate value consistently and builds awareness among members.  

    Change in Pricing 

    About 35% of associations who noticed a growth in their membership made a membership model pricing change in the past five years. About 28% of associations whose membership has shrunk have indicated they may consider changing their membership pricing model in the next two years. The report lists many examples of initiatives that constitute membership model pricing changes at associations. These include adapting pricing to the revenue of members, creating tiers that cater to usage levels and adding new tiers of membership. 

    Association Priorities

    The survey included open-ended questions to understand the short-term priority of associations. Most executives expressed the desire to strengthen member value proposition, member engagement, and educate their members on the relevance of membership. In contrast, those with declining membership decided to keep recruitment as their number one focus. The report also displays verbatim comments about specific priorities of associations that participated in the survey. 

    To find out more about recruitment, engagement, and retention strategies of high-performing associations, purchase the 2024 CSAE Membership Trends report.  

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