Announcing The How Organizations Grow Membership & Revenue Research Report 2020​

Membership February 20, 2020

Tatiana Morand

By Tatiana Morand

Have you ever wondered how your membership organization is growing compared to other organizations?  


How about whether you’re doing the right things to maximize revenue? 


Don’t you wish you could learn what the best performing organizations are doing? 


At WildApricot, we think about questions like these every day.   


It’s not only our mission to create software that makes it easier for organizations to recruit members and grow revenue — we also endeavour to help our customers, and the larger membership community, thrive by becoming better at these activities. 


To that end, we’re currently running a survey on How Organizations Grow Membership & Revenue. Once we’ve collected enough results, we’ll publish our findings, benchmarks, and best practices in a free research report.   


Curious what we’ll find?  


So were we, so we did a little analysis on the data we’ve received from the 400+ participants to the study thus far.   


Read on to learn the 3 most surprising trends we’ve found (so far!). 


P.S. If you haven’t taken the survey already, please spare 5-minutes to participate. Adding your voice to the discussion is one of the best things you can do to help us all get better at serving our members— and if that’s not enough, by responding you’ll get the chance to win 1 of 5 $100 Amazon Gift Cards.


51% of Organizations Failed to Grow Revenue in 2019 


2019 was a great year for growth. The Dow grew by 22 percent, Tesla became the most valuable American automaker EVER, and our office plant collection has really started to shine.  

 Awesome Plant Selection 

Astonishingly, what doesn’t seem to be growing is the revenue membership organizations are bringing in.   


As the table below shows, 51% of all organizations we’ve heard from so far failed to increase their revenue over what they earned in 2018.   


Worse, in the depressing numbers category, just 11% saw a significant increase in revenue, while 18% saw their revenue drop! 

 Graph 1 (revenue growth) 

So what’s going on? 


Good question!  


In the full report, we’ll dive deeply into this question, looking at organization size, organizational subtype, and geography.   


Most importantly, though, we’ll look at the tactics relied upon by the top performing organizations versus those of their peers to identify what works best.  


We’ll also dive into the challenges commonly faced that hurt revenue growth. So far, the most common by a very wide margin is “People aren’t aware of us” — hopefully with this report we can help organizations change that! 


There Is No Statistical Relationship Between Trying to Grow and Growing! 


Let’s be real, not every organization is trying to grow.  


Some organizations are perfectly happy at their current size. That being said, most membership-based organizations, from foundations to professional association, would love to see their numbers increase, as that means being better able to deliver on their mission. 


It was incredibly surprising then that when we analyzed the data collected thus far we found the following: 

 Graph 2 (growth by effort) 

The table above includes a lot of information, so let’s break it down into the biggest takeaways.   

  1. First, most organizations are doing alright — 90% growing or maintaining — but still some 10% are shrinking. More interesting, though, is that the organizations actively trying to grow were nearly 4x more likely to be shrinking than their staying-pat counterparts. Full disclosure, we need a lot more data to have certainty around that ratio, so please add your voice to the survey when you get the chance

  1. Whether you’re trying to grow or not doesn’t predict whether you’ll actually grow. Among membership organizations not trying to grow, 65% still ended up growing organically in 2019.  Shockingly, the overall growth rate for organizations trying to grow was lower at 62%! We’re going to dig deeply into this finding in the final report, but for now we’re really scratching our heads. 

  1. You’re 75% more likely to achieve double digit growth when you’re trying to grow. Phew! Here’s at least some good news for organizations trying to grow — if you’re trying, then you’re much more likely to grow at a high rate. Curious what tactics fuel that kind of growth? So are we, so it will definitely be one of the main focuses of the final report. 


Facebook is Twice as Popular as Any Other Social Media Platform for Recruiting Members 


79% of organizations use Facebook as a way of attracting new members.   


Comparatively, 35% of organizations are actively recruiting on Instagram, 38% on Twitter, and 34% for LinkedIn.  


And not only is Facebook the most popular, it’s by far and away the most successful platform for recruiting members. 


Using a five-point scale ranging from “no impact” to “major impact”:  

 Graph 3 (social media success) 

Facebook’s score of 2.62 places it between “little impact” and “moderate impact,” with it being slightly closer to “moderate.”  


That’s in part due to 19% of organizations using Facebook saying it makes a “considerable” (14%) or “major” (5%) impact.   


Comparatively, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn had an average of below 10% for the upper two levels of the scale — so clearly, Facebook is top dog in this space.   


The question remains, though, if and how the top performing organizations are using each of these platforms and if they’ve found some way to ratchet up the performance of the other social channels.  This is something we’ll look into a lot more in the full report. 


What’s Next?


We hope you found our preliminary results interesting. Feel free to subscribe to our blog so you can be notified when the full report is released — and again, we’d love to hear from you via the survey.   


It takes just five minutes, and is one of the best ways around to improve the collective knowledge around membership and revenue growth for non-profits, associations, clubs, and other similar organizations.   


What are your questions around membership growth? Let us know in the comments!  

The Membership Growth Report:

Benchmarks & Insights for Growing Revenue and Constituents

Get the report now!

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