Member Retention involves excellent customer service, regular staff evaluations, communication with members, staff goal setting, watching trends, and engagement with members. Retention is an essential part of Membership Management
, and like Membership Recruitment
, is part of the Membership Sales
process where Communicating Value
and sharing ROI are intertwined and go hand-in-hand. Membership Orientation
starts all your members off on the right foot.Standard Membership Formulas
= (Total number of member accounts last year - total number of cancelled member accounts current year) / Total number of member accounts last year
- Calculate Net Gain/Loss in % of New Member Dollars (current year)
= (Dollar value of the total new member accounts current year - Dollar value of the total cancelled member accounts current year) / Dollar value of the chamber's total member accounts last year
- Calculate Net % Gain/Loss New Member Accounts (current year)
= (Total new member accounts current year - Total number of cancelled member accounts current year) / Total number of member accounts last year
For more on membership calculations, read 8 Critical Equations for Membership Recruitment and Retention
by Cathi Hight and see Operations/Membership statistics with calculations in Dynamic Chamber Benchmarking
- Download Membership Statistics from ACCE's Operations Survey
- Participate in ACCE's Operations Survey now available 24/7 through Dynamic Chamber Benchmarking and access free, customized reports for your chamber, including the Membership Statistics report and comparisons, showing retention, market penetration, and calculations of dues investment, revenue per member, tiered dues information and more. Results are shown with your chamber's percentile compared to the 25th, 50th, and 75th percentiles.
- 2016 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report from Marketing General Incorporated provides survey results in this study that help analyze and track strategies and tactics that membership organizations use to recruit new members, engage and renew those members, and reinstate lapsed members.
- ACCE's Chamber Revenue Models Whitepaper - How Membership Management fits in with revenue models and translates into revenue streams for your chamber (December 2013)
Retention Programs in Action
- Recruitment and Retention ideas such as retention-focused events (reach out to current members and keep them as current members); Retention Committees; Operation Thank You (The Nacogdoches County Chamber (TX) annually conducts "Operation Thank You" where the staff hand-deliver new publications and seek a conversation with members who are not always the networkers. The personal touch goes a long way.)
- "Taste the Chamber" luncheon - The Eden Prairie Chamber (MN) hosts this free luncheon event at a restaurant. There is a 20-30 minute presentation and a pitch for non-members to join. Ambassadors (and anyone else) are encouraged to bring prospects; anyone whose prospect joins (and lists them as the referral) receives $100 cash! See the full discussion of ideas on this LinkedIn Thread.
- Key details - members can only attend if accompanied by a non-member guest (although the chamber hand-selects 4 members to give testimonials and also has board members attend). At the end of the presentation, the chamber provides special incentives to join that day and that day only - waived initiation fee, restaurant gift certificates, etc. (You don't want them to say they need to think about it!)
- Success - The chamber runs the event twice a year. Each draws about 60 non-members and 20 members (the room is sold out and full of energy!), after which between 20-24 new members join. Total dues revenue is about $12,000 versus about $2000 in expenses and approximately another $2000 - $2500 in referral dollars. The chamber also reaches additional prospects who will potentially join in the future.
- See also Ambassador Programs
Sample Policies, Plans & More
- See all Retention examples from ACCE's Samples Library
- Krawczak Formula for Member Retention - Telling your story is one of the key ways that Jaclynn Krawczak has maintained a renewal rate of 95 percent or higher during her nine-year stint as Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce (MI) President and CEO.
- Member Retention Plan Asheville Area Chamber's (NC) plan includes research and anaylsis of overall retention and first year retention, comparing the Asheville Chamber of Commerce to ACCE Operations Survey data. It also includes goals, a strategy, procedures and implementation steps, as well as a method of evaluation.
- "Hardship Membership" Policy Recommendation - Sample policy from the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance (IA) to help their members impacted by the 2008 flood.
- Membership Renewal Timeline - Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry (PA) outlines the process for communicating with members in the weeks prior to and subsequent to the deadline for membership renewal, as well as procedures regarding dropped members.
- Engagement Matrix - This document from the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance (CO) shows the different levels of chamber engagement, including volunteer opportunities, available to members.
- Small Business Programming to Increase Revenue and Impact Retention from the Dallas Regional Chamber (TX)
- Timeline: First-Year Retention Plan - A timeline of actions from the Fort Collins Area Chamber (CO) to keep new chamber members happy and appreciated over the course of their first year as a member.
- An Incentive Approach to Member Retention - Greater Spokane Inc. (WA) has implemented a member retention incentive program, which includes a financial reward for successful staff members.
- Membership Retention Program - Lake Havasu Area Chamber's (AZ) plan involves communicating with members at all levels of membership, regularly updating and upgrading member benefits, forming alliances with the city government and other key organizations, developing a new mentoring system, and providing networking for smaller groups.
- It's About Time - Marketing piece from the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce (PA) to answer the question: "What can chamber membership offer me if I have little or no time to participate?"
- Member Retention Script - Script from Longview Chamber (TX) that can be modified for your chamber and for specific member interests.
- Membership Retention Plan - Sample from Longview Chamber (TX) includes timeline and actions for different groups, including new members, longstanding members, and largest investors
- I've Joined a Chamber - Now What? Measuring Your ROI - This checklist from Wake Forest Area Chamber of Commerce (NC) can be used to ensure that a Chamber member is getting the highest ROI for their membership value, with checklist items for 30, 60, 90, 120, and 180 days.
Sample Renewal & Dropped Member Letters
- See all Renewal Notices from ACCE's samples library
- More Member Outreach examples from ACCE's samples library
- Dropped Member Letter - 90 days past due - Example letter from the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce (NY) for 90 days past due.
- Dropped Member Letter and Renewal Encouragement - Example letter from Allen Fairview Chamber of Commerce (TX) that includes member benefit mention of their Relocation Guide & Membership Directory.
- Renewal Letter, Invoice and Thank You - Sample from the Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce (SC)
- Dropped Member Letter and Renewal Encouragement - Example letter from DeSoto Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center (TX).
- We Want You Back Membership Letter - From the Grapevine (TX) Chamber of Commerce, whose retention program is part of the board advocacy work. Learn more in this ACCE University Webinar with CEO RaDonna Hessel, Building a Stronger, More Effective Board (Nov. 2015).
- Dropped Member Letter - Example letter from the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce (FL) sent to former chamber members.
- Renewal Letter - Example from Longview Chamber of Commerce (TX), the renewal letter also encourages members to contribute to the chamber's political action committee.
- Dropped Member Letter and Renewal Encouragement - Example letter from Mineral Wells Area Chamber of Commerce (TX)
- Welcome Back Letter - Successful "come back to the chamber" renewal letter from the North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce (SC).
- The Pittsburgh Airport Area Chamber (PA) sends invoices 45 days before due, and offers 13 months for the price of 12 if the member renews within 30 days. In addition, the CEO sends a handwritten note to first-year members at month 7 and notes what they’ve done so far in their first year (e.g., I saw you attended a Biz Blast, or I haven’t seen you registered for any events, etc.), asking if they have any suggestions or complaints.
Samples of Member Surveys
Articles & Blog Postings
- Membership Retention: Winning at the Member Engagement Game - by Jamee Jolly (Chamber TEXECUTIVE MONTHLY, July 2017) with key considerations in making sure that members understand and realize the value of membership.
- Tales of Renewal - by Chris Mead, Chamber Executive magazine (Winter 2017)
- Questioning the Folk Theories of Association Membership - by Joe Rominiecki, Associations Now (October 2016)
- Turn Off the Churn - A renewal effort of at least seven “touches” correlates with increased retention rates, but earning the next dues payment starts on day one of membership. From Associations Now (July/August 2016)
- Focus on Your Highly Engaged Members - by Joe Rominiecki, Associations Now (June 2016)
- Too Many Ideas for Boosting Member Retention? Never! - by Joe Rominiecki, Associations Now (June 2016)
- The Power of Email: Improving Membership Retention - by Meghan Turner, Associations Now (June 2015)
- 6 Reasons Why Businesses Should Join a Local Chamber of Commerce - by David Larson, Herald Extra (May 2015)
- 3 Things Every Association Executive Should Know About Member Engagement - Associations Now (February 2015)
- Supercharge Your Chamber Membership - Blog series by Kelly Fanelli with strategies for renewing membership sales and recruiting new members (September 2014).
- The Role of Advocacy in Member Acquisition and Retention - Blog post by Jeff Ryan, Votility (June 5, 2014)
- Mick on Money: Fuzzy Math - by Mick Fleming, Chamber Executive magazine (Fall 2013)
- An Ounce of Retention is Worth a Pound of Sales - by Michael Johnston, Chamber Executive magazine (Spring 2008)
- See more articles on Membership & Sales in ACCE's Chamber Executive magazine archive search.
Resources from Chamber Membership Pro & Consultant Cathi Hight
- I Want a Divorce – Why Members Leave Us - The 8 year "disenchantment factor" seen in divorces also applies to membership retention. Learn strategies to employ to develop lifetime members.
- Why is Our Retention Rate So Low? - Video blog and article. Learn about different ways to count retention numbers.
- How Do We Increase Our Retention? - Video blog and article. Start with identifying the root causes of the churn.
- 12-Point Assessment: How Effective Is Your Member Retention? - Quiz from Cathi Hight to measure your organization's ability to retain members and reach your business goals.
- Cultivating Engagement: Let's Talk About Connections - by Cathi Hight. Suggests a template that members and associations can use for social media and at networking events to find beneficial connections.
- How Do You Measure Up to What Matters Now? - by Cathi Hight. Briefly discusses the need for associations to reconnect with members and consider how to deliver value in a changing landscape.
- How Member-Centric Are You? - by Cathi Hight. Creating a member-centric organization requires an investment in five key elements.
- Improve the Membership Renewal Stage - by Cathi Hight. Discusses the challenges and best practices for the renewal stage of the membership life cycle.
- Increase Engagement Levels as a Retention Strategy - by Cathi Hight. Explores the best ways to engage members.
- Increase 1st and 2nd Year Retention Rates - by Cathi Hight. Presents the four stages of the membership life cycle, the challenges involved in each, and the best practices for integrating new members.
- Member-Centricity Scorecard - by Cathi Hight. Allows chamber to identify areas of strength and areas that need improvement.
- Move from ROI to VOI - by Cathi Hight. Recommends defining membership benefits in terms of "value on investment," and suggests ways of communicating this.
- Position Player - by Cathi Hight, Chamber Executive magazine (March/April 2005). Presents strategies to increase membership retention rates.
- Recruit, Retain and Reward Your Members - by Cathi Hight. Discusses the myths and realities of keeping members, and explores concepts and strategies to deliver products and services that meet your members' ever-changing needs - and help you to develop loyal members.
- The Retention Game Plan - by Cathi Hight, Chamber Executive magazine (Spring 2007). Explores how to develop a new approach to retention in order to improve outcomes.
- Ten Reasons Why Members Renew - by Cathi Hight. Categorizes the reasons that drive members to renew their membership into ten areas.
- Ten Tips to Increase Member Renewal Rates - by Cathi Hight. Provides simple ways to improve payment options, as well as ideas for an effective long-term retention strategy.
- Top Twenty Tips to Grow Your Business for 2014, by Cathi Hight. Includes time management, marketing, and customer service suggestions.
- Turn Ghosts Into Visible Customers - by Cathi Hight, Colorado Company magazine. Explains why customer loyalty trumps customer satisfaction, and discusses how organizations can develop a loyal customer base.
- Use “Win-Back” Campaigns to Court Lost Members - by Cathi Hight. Discusses strategies and steps for creating a successful long-term campaign to win back lost members.
- Value Propositions: Moving from ROI to VOI, by Cathi Hight, Chamber Executive magazine, Spring 2011. Explains the importance to chambers of expressing value propositions in terms of VOI and communicating benefits that go beyond a monetary exchange.
- Who Will Be Your Members in 2020 and Why? - by Cathi Hight. Reviews two books about the association industry that describe why traditional membership models will not be sustainable in the future.
Find more presentations by Cathi Hight
Books & eBooks
- Build a Great Member Retention Plan eBook - This free eBook from WebLink International offers guidance for building a great member retention plan from start to finish.
- Essential Guide to Member Engagement - Learn how to better engage your members, increase participation, and empower them to take action in this free eBook from Votility.
- Member Retention Kit - From Weblink International. Offers best practices and templates.
- Member Retention Kit, 2011 edition - Includes more than 200 pages of worksheets, templates, samples and articles, plus an accompanying CD. Available for purchase from the ACCE Store.
- Membership Essentials: Recruitment, Retention, Roles, Responsibilities, and Resources - book for purchase from ASAE (2008, 240 pages)
Convention & Seminar Resources
- A Winning Membership Transformation - Presentation handout by Danna Markland, President & CEO, Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce (Va.), from the 2016 ACCE Annual Convention.
- Membership Growth Top 10 - Presentation handout from Shari Pash, Strategic Solutions for Growth, from the 2015 ACCE Annual Convention.
- 10 Lessons for Cultivating Member Commitment (PPT) by Greg Melia, ASAE
- Recruitment & Retention for a Strong Membership from the 2015 ACCE National Sales Training
- 2014 Economic Development & Membership Track Pack (6 Sessions) from the 2014 ACCE Annual Convention, available for purchase through the ACCE Store, includes tracks on:
- Segmenting the Small Business Market
- Sustainable Membership Growth
- Growing Diverse Businesses
- See also Growing Diverse Businesses presentation by Crystal German, Vice President, Economic Inclusion, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber and Nika White, Vice President, Diversity & Inclusion, Greenville Chamber of Commerce
- Collective Impact: A Powerful Framework for Transformative Change in Communities
- Quality of Place as an Economic Driver
- See also Quality of Place as an Economic Driver presentation by David Brown, President and CEO, Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce; Brad Lacy, President & CEO, Conway Area Chamber; and J. Mac Holladay, CCE, PCED, LM, HLM, Founder and CEO, Market Street Services
- Tapping the Entrepreneurial Culture
- See also Tapping the Entrepreneurial Culture presentation by Michael Dalby, CCE, President and CEO, Columbus Chamber; Sean Kennedy, Greenhouse Manager, St. Petersburg Area Chamber; Penny Lewandowski, Vice President of Entrepreneurship, Edward Lowe Foundation; and Christa Tinsley Spaht, Senior Project Manager, Market Street Services
- Membership Development Track Pack (6 Sessions) from the 2013 ACCE Annual Convention, available for purchase through the ACCE Store
- Retaining Members as You Grow: 25 Tips of Successful Membership Recruitment - e-course, part of the Live! Membership Sales Seminar Series: Denver 2012, which is available for purchase from the ACCE Store. The accompanying handout is free.
- Return on Investment Tool - Convention 2011 pdf
Videos, Webinars & ACCE U Resources
Related Chamberpedia Pages
| Membership Management
| Membership RetentionLast Updated: 7/28/2017