2013 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report

Membership July 01, 2013

Lori Halley

By Lori Halley

Marketing General Incorporated (MGI) has published the fifth edition of their Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report. The good news is that “based on input from nearly 700 respondents, 2013 results show that membership organization numbers continue to rebound.”

As the report’s authors suggest, “the most important aspect of this report is that it goes beyond cataloging membership practices of responding associations; [it] also takes these practices and cross-tabulates them with the membership outcomes that associations are experiencing.”

Some key findings

While we haven’t had a chance to dig deeply into the survey findings yet, here is an overview of some of the survey highlights.

Membership growth:

  • 52% of associations report increases in overall membership over the past year
  • 28% of participants reported membership increases of 1 to 5% over the last year

 Renewal rates:

  • 68% of participating associations have renewal rates at 80% or higher.
  • The mean renewal rate for participating associations is about 81%.
  • The mean renewal rate for new members is about 68%. 

Top challenges to growing membership:

Participants were asked “what are the biggest impediments to membership growth” and the top challenges were:

  • “insufficient staff”
  • “difficulty attracting and/or maintaining younger members”
  • “perception of the association and/or its culture.”

Top membership goals:

An equal percentage of participating associations (74%) ranked the following as their top two membership goals:

  • “increasing member engagement”
  • “increasing both membership acquisition and retention”

(Trade associations were more likely than individual membership associations (83% vs. 71%) to identify increased member engagement as their key goal.)

Reasons members join:

According to survey participants, the primary reasons members join associations are:

  1. networking (24%)
  2. access to specialized/current information (13%)
  3. advocacy (8%).
  4. “learning best practices in their profession” (8%)

Reasons members don’t renew:

Similar to their survey findings in 2012, MGI found that the top three reasons cited for members not renewing are:

  1. Budget cuts/economic hardship of the company (18%).
  2. Lack of engagement with the organization (15%).
  3. Unable to justify membership costs with any significant ROI (11%).

Top communications methods:

The top three communication methods used to onboard new members continues to include:

  1. Email welcome kit (79%).
  2. Mailed welcome (60%).
  3. Membership card or certificate (51%).

Get additional insight - download the report

This report offers a wealth of association benchmarking information, which we hope to report on further in future blog posts.  In the meantime, you can download a copy of the 2013 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report here: http://www.marketinggeneral.com/resources/benchmark-report/

Insight into small membership organizations

While the MGI survey offers benchmarking information for larger associations, if you'd like insight into small membership organizations, you might want to check out our Small Membership Insight Survey highlights.

The Membership Growth Report:

Benchmarks & Insights for Growing Revenue and Constituents

Get the report now!

Sorry, this blog post is closed for further comments.


  • Megan Keane:
    Lori, thanks so much for the summary of key findings from the report. I am always amazed at how community - that networking piece - is the biggest value, even though it's not always as quantifiable a benefit. Never underestimate the importance of community!
  • Lori Halley

    Lori Halley:
    Megan: Absolutely, our Small Membership Insight Survey confirmed that as well.

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