New members are our most at-risk segment of members but, they are not the only at-risk members we have. We see retention rates decline for long-time members as well.
Long-time members have experienced years of happy membership. Why would they fail to renew?
They say it is because they are bored. Too often long-time members feel like they could take the stage and give the speaker’s presentation. They say there’s a lack of value for them. The association is not covering topics they care about or the issues that apply to them at their level. They say the association is getting stale. Or the association is focusing on another segment of membership which does not include them. Or the association is moving too slowly or is filled with old-school thinking, while they want to explore new ideas.
How do you know when your long-time members are becoming disenfranchised? When they start skipping your conference’s sessions and spend all their time hanging out on the periphery of the conference chatting with old friends. They stop renewing on time. Their usage of your website drops dramatically.
Interestingly, long-time members are reluctant to leave. They do remember the good times. They fondly recall the value they once received. They know the association helped them build their network.
Long-time members tell me they hold on to their membership long after the time it stopped being valuable. Many long-time members start to consider their dues a donation to a good cause. Typically long-time members do not take their decision not to renew lightly, and this is good news for us. This is good news because it buys us some time to figure out how to re-engage them.
If you know you’ve got some long-time members who are disengaging you can test a few engagement tactics:
- Help them give back – try to pair them up with the volunteer opportunity that suits them best from speaking to mentoring, bag stuffing to manning registration, or committee to working group participation.
- Solve their problems – long-time members at high levels within their organization are often dealing with massive, hairy, seemingly unsolvable problems. Do you know what those problems are? If not you do not know what their most significant challenges are, learn more about them and work with your long-time members to solve them.
- Bring together the innovators – long-time members typically focus on the big issues in the industry or profession like changes in technology, regulation, public perception, etc. Help them connect with other like-minded innovators to facilitate discussions that move the industry or profession forward.
Likely there’s an open window of opportunity to re-engage disengaged long-time members. Capitalize on their reluctance to leave and help them to become a contributing member of the association again.