Pulse of Membership 2011

“Life is not about weathering the storm, but rather about learning to dance in the rain.”

And dancing in the rain is what the most successful membership programs have been able to do in the recent past!

For the past three years Membership Consultants has been surveying membership professionals across the country on their experiences managing membership programs.

The surveys began at the first hint of the recession to gauge how the economy was effecting membership programs and the non- profit organizations they represent.

The survey results provide a very good snapshot of how programs weathered the recession storm and are now rebounding…and the resilience of our members and the people who manage these vital fundraising engines for the worthwhile causes they represent.

Here is a current and historical look at the pulse of many membership programs…

Comparing membership totals at the end of most recent year to membership totals at the end of the previous year, respondents said their membership totals…

2008 2009

2010

Increased

47% 39%

57%

Decreased 42% 47%

27%

Stayed the same 11% 13%

15%

Comparing membership revenues at the end of most recent year to membership totals at the end of the previous year, membership revenues…

2008

2009 2010

Increased

58% 43%

59%

Decreased

28% 46%

23%

Stayed the same 14% 10%

17%

Comparing membership expenditure budget at the end of most recent year to membership totals at the end of the previous year, membership budgets…

2008

2009

2010

Increased

24% 11%

30%

Decreased

37% 43%

21%

Stayed the same

39% 45% 48%

In acquiring new members last year vs. the prior year, you acquired…

2008

2009

2010

More new members

41% 42%

61%

Fewer new members

37% 34%

17%

About the same

20% 27% 19%

Membership managers report that all sources of new member acquisition have improved in 2010 over previous years, including direct mail, on-site sales and gift membership programs.  Use of direct mail for acquiring new members has remained steady at 75%, while 90% report using on-site sales.  The use of referral programs such as member-get-a -member campaigns and employee referral programs has declined.  Use of online campaigns has increased in recent years from 51% in 2007 to 63% currently.

Comparing membership renewal rates last year to previous years…

2008

2009

2010

Increased

23% 31%

43%

Decreased

41% 34%

22%

Stayed the same

34% 34%

34%

Renewal rate distribution has improved slightly with fewer managers reporting renewal rates under the 60% mark…

Renewal Rates

2008 2009

2010

70% and higher

30% 30%

33%

60% to 69%

35% 30%

30%

<60%

29% 30%

19%

Don’t know

5% 10%

9%

Means of renewing Members:

Direct mail letter packages still lead the pack with 90% of respondents using letters to renew members. Use of postcards has declined from 21% to 16%, but e-mail renewals have increased from 53% in 2007 to 64% currently.  One-third of the programs reported using the telephone to renew members and 72% get people to renew on site.