A recent survey of almost 800 association professionals in the US found that the top reason (63%) that members join their association is for networking with others in their field. Supporting advocacy was ranked seventh at 27%.
In contrast to that research insight, the pitch you see from many business associations is that businesses should join up so that they have a ‘voice’.
Perhaps it is no coincidence that those same industry bodies are often frustrated with low and declining membership.
The MGI 2021 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report reveals the true impact of the pandemic on associations. Some 47% reported declines in total membership in 2020, up by almost double from the previous year.
The adverse impact has been dramatic!
There is also good news, with 26% of associations reporting that their year-on-year membership increased.
I was curious about what set them apart.
Firstly, they had a strong value proposition. Associations with renewal rates at or above 80%, and those with increases in new members and overall membership in the past year and past five years, were significantly more likely to report their association’s value proposition is very compelling or compelling.
Secondly, they innovated. The percentage of association executives who considered their organization is very or extremely innovative more than doubled since last year (29%, up from 13% in 2020). The dramatic change correlated with increases in new members during the past year.
Even through a pandemic, associations that provide a compelling and contemporary value proposition and innovate are growing.
Conversely, it can soon get lonely if you don’t change to suit the times.
I am searching for case studies of industry bodies that are excelling and growing. If you know a great example, can you help out by sending me a quick email.
Until next week.