Board Portal Best Practices: Member Retention
By Dustin McKissen, September 25, 2018
Retaining members is one of the more
challenging tasks any trade association board faces. The principle that
obtaining a new customer is far more expensive that retaining an existing one
is as true in associations as it is in any other type of organization.
With that in mind, here are a few things
your board of directors can do to help improve member retention.
1. Understand how your members are engaging.
important for associations to understand which members are actually engaged,
and which aren’t. How do you know which members are engaged? Use your data. How
many events has a member attended in the last few years? Who is waiting until
the last minute to renew? Is the member making use of his or her benefits?
identify at-risk members, design a program to reengage them. Depending on the
size of the organization, one good place to start is a simple phone call asking
how your association could better deliver value. It is especially powerful if
that call comes from a well-respected fellow member, like a member of the
human-to-human contact is increasingly rare, and as a result increasingly
2. Be willing to get rid of programs and benefits no one uses, and
try something new.
their , association members can be incredibly engaged
and gain significant value from the new knowledge and network they get when
they join the association. But what if they are receiving essentially the same
benefits in year 5? In year 10? There is a good chance they’ve gained most or
all the value they’re ever going to get from those benefits. Members recognize
that fact before associations do, and the result is less-engaged members.
are also notorious for keeping programs and benefits that hardly get used,
often because it seemed like a good idea at the time—or because one influential
member or director is an advocate for that particular benefit. Still, having
benefits that go unused is the very definition of a lack of member engagement.
that create little-to-no member engagement, even if it causes a little
backlash. Doing so is one of the first steps toward creating more-engaged
3. Listen to what your members have to say.
association thinks it knows what members want. However, the day-to-day world of
a board member and a more “typical” association member can be very different. A
board of directors is usually composed of the most established, successful
people in an industry or profession. Their challenges and opportunities may be
significantly different than the challenges and opportunities facing a more
mean that a board can’t come up with innovative ideas to increase member
But it does
mean that boards shouldn’t assume they know what it takes to engage members at
different stages of their career. Instead, what they would like to see from their
association. What would deliver value and keep them engaged? You can ask that
question via surveys, on social media, and in the hallways and happy hours of
conferences and events—but wherever and however you do it, make sure you ask
The act of asking is itself a form of engagement and shows members that the association
leadership cares about delivering value, not just keeping membership revenue
4. Include member retention in your strategic plan.
else, making member retention a priority requires incorporating retention
challenges and initiatives in your strategic plan. BoardPaq is the only board
portal that includes an innovative SWOT analysis tool within its platform.
Boards and association staff leadership can use the SWOT analysis tool to
create the strategic retention plan that works for their association.
and retention are often treated as two separate topics.
understanding which members are engaged, being innovative, being willing to get
rid of benefits and programs that aren’t widely used, asking members what they
would like to see from their association, and including a member-retention plan
within your broader strategic plan will put your association on the right path
to improving your member-retention rate.
learning more about the board portal of choice for cost-conscious trade
associations, professional societies, and other membership organizations?