- Our Membership Renewal Survey found that most small membership organizations (e.g., fewer than 2000 members) started the renewal process either one month prior to expiration (48.3%) or two months prior to expiration (34.5%)
- The Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report (from MGI), which surveyed larger associations, found that 38% of their respondents started the renewal process three months prior to expiration; with 16% starting two months prior to expiration.
The research findings above don’t offer a definitive optimal time to start the renewal process. However, the most common timeframes appear to be one or two months prior to expiration. The findings seem to suggest that the timing of the first renewal notice may vary depending on the size of the organization. But it’s important to remember that both the timing and tactics can be very different for a large association with a static or annual renewal cycle versus a smaller organization and in particular, one that employs a rolling renewal based on each member’s anniversary date.
When you are trying to determine the optimal time to start your renewals, you might want to:
- Look at previous renewal data:
- When did you receive the most renewals? For example, did most members renew right away after you sent the first notice? If so, I’d say your timing is working.
- If you are on a static/annual renewal schedule and are finding members are taking 1-2 months to renew, perhaps you need to start the renewal process earlier.
- Consider conducting an online survey: if you think it’s time to ask your members their preference you can use an online survey. You can offer this up through your website, via email or on your Facebook page.
- For information on online surveys, you can check out this Wild Apricot blog post, or read about survey tools in “A Few Good Online Survey Tools” an Idealware article available through our Membership Knowledge Hub.
- Take a longer view: if, like some of the respondents to our survey, you are simply sending out invoices or notices just prior to the membership expiration date, consider creating an on-going year-round “membership connection campaign” – for more see “Engagement & Retention” at the end of this guide.
Before you start the renewal process – be sure your membership database
As we noted in a blog post – It’s Membership Renewal Time Again – before you embark on any renewal program, check your membership list to ensure it is up-to-date. After all, “an organization's credibility and attention to detail is on display when members receive their renewal notices.”
If you are maintaining a manually updated member list, be sure all revisions have been made and consider asking members to update their information online if that is possible. If you are using Association or Membership Management software – such as Wild Apricot – your members can easily update their profiles online and all data is stored in one central membership database. This means that you don't have to worry about the potential of using old, out-of-date contact or membership status information for your renewal outreach.