Developing Membership Retention Strategies for Chapters of Professional Societies

95% of the retention battle is keeping those members you currently have in the family, or it's 80% according to industry standard.  Attrition is a natural part of the membership business, people retire, move, change careers, etc.  So naturally professional societies will have some attrition each year.  Having a strong membership retention program is the first step towards growing your membership.  Consider the following steps to maintain members:

1) Have a solid plan for consistent outreach.  This is especially critical with members that have recently joined your organization.  Frequent touch points in their first two years of membership are necessary to help connect these folks to your organization.  This contact should be all about content.  How can you make their lives better? After all, that's why they joined in the first place.  Demonstrate clearly, what's in it for them as new members.

2) Be vigilant in your renewal process.  Start 3 months prior to the renewal date.  Email monthly.  Snail mail after at least 50% of your members have renewed.  Snail mail again after you hit the 75% mark.  Engage volunteers in telephone outreach to those that have not renewed.  Peer to peer contact is extremely helpful.  Continue to email 3 months after the renewal date.  

3) Own the outreach process. Outreach cannot be outsourced or delegated.  Your best means of communication comes from your most vested members, the folks out there singing your praises from the hill tops,  typically found among your current and prospective board members. Give these shining stars the tools necessary to facilitate the outreach.  Make it low stress and minimize the time necessary to conduct the outreach. Engage these members, not with gimmicks masked as incentives (the old we'll put your name in a drawing campaign), rather ask for their help.  Most folks will rise to the challenge simply because someone asked for their help.

4) Constantly survey your market.  Seek out the unmet needs of your membership base.  Assess how you can best facilitate meeting those needs.  This all comes through communication.  Dig deep. Go beyond the typical, "What do you value most about your membership?" "Education! Networking!" Q&A.  Everyone says that... and it's NOT ENOUGH. Ask probing questions that take you deeper into why the education/networking is beneficial. What are the most problematic issues faced by your members on a daily basis? Do your programs help your attendees? How? Do they save them time?  Have they allowed them to obtain promotions or add resources to their operations? 

These are the questions your members want answers to.  These are the questions that produce results.   When answered, your members stay involved, and better yet, they help RECRUIT!