A “grace period” is an agreed period of time, following the membership expiration date, after which if fees are not received the membership is considered “lapsed” or terminated.
- Our Membership Survey found that the most common “grace period” was either one or two months (42% each). The other 16% of respondents offered many different grace periods – from none at all; to 6-7 days; to 3 years.
- The MGI report suggested that renewal efforts were discontinued after 3 months (23%) or 2 months after expiry (13%)
There are a number of factors involved with determining whether your organization should have a grace period and deciding on the optimum time frame. The real issue comes down to whether you continue to offer member benefits – such as admittance to member education, events, access to proprietary information or publications, etc. – or whether these benefits are denied until membership fees are received. It is a delicate balancing act between trying to keep existing members and bring back lapsed members while ensuring you are not short-changing paying members.
In deciding on your grace period policies, consider looking at the average lapsed time for renewals and/or the actual success rate for reinstatement of lapsed members. You might also do some discreet investigating into whether members are aware of your existing grace period and whether this encourages some to postpone payment.