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Introducing the 2020 Membership Growth Report: Benchmarks and Insights for Growing Revenue and Constituents

Author: Tatiana Morand
November 9, 2020
🕑 4 min read

At WildApricot, we’ve worked with thousands of membership organizations.

We know that, despite how rewarding it is to create a community and accomplish your mission, growing your membership is difficult at the best of times. The same is true of revenue.

And in the midst of a global pandemic… it’s even harder.

That’s why we put together the 2020 Membership Growth Report: Benchmarks and Insights for Growing Revenue and Constituents.

Our goal with this report was to learn how organizations grew (or didn’t) their membership base and revenue throughout 2019, so that we could share our top insights with all of you.

(And even better: the top strategies to increase your growth are still possible through COVID restrictions!)

If you want to download the full report, click here.

If you just want to see our top five takeaways, keep reading — or if you prefer a video, check it out below.


Insight #1: Struggling To Grow Membership? You’re Not Alone.

And in fact, failing to grow membership (or even shrinking) was more common than growing membership.

membership growth in 2019 survey graph
As the chart above shows, more than a third (36%) of organizations failed to grow their membership in 2019, and just shy of a third (32%) saw low growth (between 1-5%).

Worst of all: 11% of organizations shrank!

Although this may not seem entirely comforting, at least you know it’s not just your organization that’s facing difficulties.

(And if you did grow your membership last year — let us know what tactics you used in the comments. We’d love to hear from you.)

Wondering how you can reverse this trend? Read on!

Click through to claim your 60-day trial of WildApricot to create effective QR codes that will speed up event check-in.

Insight #2: This Is the Most Effective Tactic To Increase Your Membership.

You’ve probably tried a lot of different techniques to grow your membership base, some with more success than others.

But if you haven’t asked your members to refer their friends… you’re missing out!

That’s because on a 5-point scale, referring a friend was the clear winner, with a ranking of 3.22 out of 5.

So, next time you host a webinar or socially distanced gathering, ask your members to invite someone else who would be interested in your organization.

And bonus tip: stop focusing as much on Twitter!

Out of 19 tactics considered in our survey, it was the least effective, and was ranked only 2.16 out of 5.

Read More: 101 Ways To Get New Members For Your Organization

Insight #3: Revenue Growth Is Actually Easier Than Membership Growth

We’ve covered how many organizations were unable to grow their membership… but what about growing their revenue?

Well, it turns out that a higher percentage of respondents saw an increase in revenue in 2019 compared to the percentage of those who saw an increase in membership: 50% compared to 68%.

However, this still means that fully half of all respondents did not see any revenue growth — meaning that membership organizations still have work to do when it comes to figuring out the most effective revenue generation tactics for them.

This struggle was also universal across all organization types — whether you run a nonprofit, association, or club, you’re likely to find revenue growth a challenge.

However, there was one factor that did impact revenue growth: how many years your organization has been around. To learn more, download our full report now.

Insight #4: Want To Generate More Revenue? Do This.

Of course, increasing your revenue isn’t impossible by any means.

Throughout the report, we divided organizations into leaders and laggards: those who were succeeding at driving revenue, and those who lagged behind.

And when it comes to revenue, there’s a clear path to becoming a winner: relying less heavily on registered members for funding.

leaders and laggards revenue difference chart

As the chart above shows, a smaller percentage of revenue leaders relied on their members for 76-100% of their funding (only 38% compared to 48% of revenue laggards).

So, whether it’s starting an online store, creating a crowdfunding campaign in your neighbourhood, or getting businesses to sponsor you, a willingness to try more tactics than just relying on membership dues is the key to increasing your revenue.

Insight #5: Here’s How To Overcome the Biggest Revenue Generation Challenge

“If only more people knew about us… then we’d be able to fundraise a lot more easily!”

Does that sound familiar?

According to our respondents, the biggest challenge organizations faced in growing revenue was simply a lack of visibility: people aren’t donating because they haven’t heard of the organization.

obstacles to revenue growth report chart

As you can see from the chart above, this challenge was experienced by almost double the number of organizations than the next most popular choice, and almost half of all organizations.

However, there’s good news: out of the top five challenges pictured here, that’s the easiest to overcome. Continuing to focus on your online presence, such as your website and email newsletter, can help you ensure that the people who would be interested in your organization will find you online and contribute to your growth.

We hope these results have given you a lot to think about as you start your 2021 planning — and if you want to learn more about our findings and recommendations, download the report now.

Read More: 35 Membership Stats You Must Know in 2020

The Membership Growth Report:

Benchmarks & Insights for Growing Revenue and Constituents

Get the report now!