December 18, 2017
    New report: Associations are using digital methods more in their communications

    Association leaders must continuously evaluate the ever-changing needs of their organization. Staying abreast of trends in the association industry is, therefore, critical to strategic membership engagement, recruitment, and renewal efforts.

    To empower the leaders of member-based organizations with data and analysis on the latest developments in the association space, GrowthZone AMS conducted an in-depth survey on association industry trends.

    The Survey

    Over 1,000 association professionals were surveyed on everything from member recruitment and renewal methods to strategies for generating non-dues revenue. The majority of the respondents indicated that their organizations had over 2,000 members.


    The results revealed what association pros say is happening now and what they think is on the horizon for the future:

    Renewals. Fifty-eight percent of organizations reported a decrease or no growth in membership size in the past year.

    Respondents shared numerous reasons members don’t renew, a few of which include budget cuts, lack of value, and limited time.

    Correlating data showed that respondents who saw strong membership renewals also saw strong membership growth in general. These results indicate that there are successful methods for improving retention rates.

    Two out of three respondents indicated email is the most successful methods to get members to renew and the majority indicated their association’s grace period for non-renewals is 2-3 months.

    A lack of strategy for connecting with lapsed members was prevalent. The key lies in a “gone-but-not-forgotten” plan to re-engage non-renewing members promptly.

    Regardless of its length, following up with members at the end of the grace period to ask why they did or did not renew is critical to association growth and overall organizational health.

    Communication. Results show that associations are evolving in how they communicate with their target audience. The trends indicated an increase in utilization of digital methods (email, texting, social media) to engage members and reach prospects.

    Member Benefits. Additionally, respondents shared the top seven things that attract members to the organization as well as the most utilized membership benefits. Education and networking ranked high on both lists.

    New-Member Recruitment. The survey results include the most successful methods for new member recruitment. Two of the top strategies included word-of-mouth and social media. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter allow associations to “micro-target” audiences with social campaigns.

    Non-Dues Revenue. Another finding shows that associations depend heavily on non-dues revenue. On average, close to half of associations’ annual revenue comes from five main non-dues sources.


    There were five clear trends when respondents were queried on the biggest challenge facing their organization. However, more than half of respondents said the biggest challenge is recruiting and retaining members.


    Many of the challenges facing organizations can be improved upon with today’s rapidly advancing AMS technology. Associations that embrace technology are empowering their members to stay engaged and ensuring the future of their organization.


    Overall, findings show a positive outlook for member-based organizations. Today’s available technology is allowing associations to streamline their operations, improve the member experience, and focus on their mission. 


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    Association TRENDS