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What’s Keeping Association Executives Up at Night? We Found Out.

See how your issues compare to your peers’ and discover their secrets for member retention, acquisitions, engagement and winning back lapsed members.

2023 Membership Benchmark Report

We’ve just released our complimentary 2023 Membership Performance Benchmark Report that’s loaded with the latest association stats and specific strategies your peers are using to successfully improve new member acquisitions, engagement, retention, and overall performance.


Top Worries of Association Executives

One of the most compelling areas of the report centers around the problems weighing heavily on the minds of association executives right now.

Beyond everyday challenges, 40% of survey respondents reported that enhancing member engagement is the issue that most troubles them. This makes sense as member engagement impacts so many facets of association performance. It’s crucial to ensuring strong renewal rates — and it’s especially vital for first-year members. So, you’ll want to make sure to see page 11 of the survey report where participants share the most effective strategies for keeping new members coming back.

Other pressing issues include staffing knowledge/skills, budgetary constraints, and digital transformation expectations.  Do you share the same concerns? Or are your colleagues seeing something on the horizon you dont?

Association executives' main concern is enhancing member engagement.



Read on for key findings and other valuable take-aways survey participants shared, including:

  • Tips for winning back lapsed members (page 14 of the report)
  • 7 winning tactics to recruit new members (page 11)
  • Why members aren’t renewing (page 13)
  • 6 most popular tech stack investments your peers are making (page 7)
  • Generational insights: how different age groups have distinct goals and challenges (page 19)

Sample pages from the 2023 Membership Performance Benchmark Report that cover top challenges and strategies to win back lapsed members.

Download the 2023 Membership Benchmark Report


Who Participated and Where are They From?

More than 100 association executives and professionals from around the world participated in the annual benchmark survey. Respondents were from large and small organizations with budgets ranging from less than $1 million to more than $25 million; most were from the US and Canada but there was a sizable contingent from Asia-Pacific as well.

What else you’ll learn about the respondents:

  • Functional roles of participants (Executives, Membership, Finance, etc.)
  • Breakdown of organization types (Trade, Professional, etc.)
  • Latest figures on remote vs. in-office workforces

USA: 48%. Canada: 33%. Asia-Pacific: 14%. EMEIA (Europe, the Middle East, India, and Africa): 4%.

EMEIA is defined as Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa.


How are They Attracting New Members?

Increasing the membership base and recruiting new members is always top-of-mind for association professionals. This year, a little more than half (51%) reported they attracted new members and 47% boosted overall membership levels. If you’re looking for tips on how to successfully onboard your new members, check out our blog article.

What else you’ll learn about member levels:

  • Best 7 ways to recruit new members 
  • Number of organizations with declining or static membership bases


30% of survey respondents reported that they added new members in the past year. Source: 2023 Membership Performance Benchmark Report by iMIS.


How Do They Keep Members Engaged?

Increasing engagement is the top goal for respondents, but just 34% reported gains this year. Getting your members to fully engage is vital to avoiding churn and growing your base. There are plenty of strategies you can implement, but you want to use what actually works. The survey report includes advice you’ll want to try right away.

What else you’ll learn about engagement:

  • How many organizations are driving more engagement — and how many are stuck in neutral
  • The one strategy that’s helping 30% of respondents increase event/webinar attendance and boosting annual conference attendance for 27% (see page 15 for the answer)


One strategy helped increase attendance at events/webinars and annual conferences. Find out in the Membership Performance Benchmark Report.


Why Aren’t Members Renewing and How Can You Win Them Back?

Retention remained steady for most survey participants (46%) while 31% increased their rates. Understanding why your members leave and how you can pull them back into the fold is vital and respondents were eager to share their successes. Recurring memberships can make a huge difference but 58% reported they don’t provide this option. This may be because their association software can’t support it. If that’s you and you’re looking for a new system, you’ll want to read The Ultimate Guide to Association Software; it can help you document your needs, determine the right tech stack, and evaluate potential systems.

What else you’ll learn about retention:

  • How your organization’s retention rate compares to others 
  • Leading reasons members aren’t renewing 
  • Methods your colleagues are using to keep their first-year members 
  • Best ways to win back lapsed members — nearly 50% agree on one specific tactic  


Retention remained steady for 46% of participants while 31% increased their rates. Source: 2023 Membership Performance Benchmark Survey by iMIS


Which Technologies are They Considering & Why?

You probably already have or are contemplating a digital transformation strategy — 43% of survey participants have one now.  One of the first steps in a successful plan is to evaluate whether your current association software system can provide a Single Source of Truth (SSoT) and support the tech stack you need to deliver the value your members want.  The survey report shows the hottest technology trends and what’s cooling down.

What else you’ll learn about technology:

  • The 6 most popular investments your colleagues are considering  
  • Adoption rates of cloud-based association software 
  • Digital transformation plan priorities — how do they compare to yours?


2023 Membership Benchmark ReportDownload the 2023 Membership Benchmark Report


How Do Different Generations Look at the Issues?

Respondents shared their age ranges and we discovered each group has a different priority, challenge, and perspective on the future. See page 21 for details.




This generation is the most cautious about the future and most concerned about engagement.
Cassette tape


This group is generally confident about the future but worries about retention and the quality of the data they’re using to make decisions.
Video game controller


This is the most confident generation but they’re anxious about attracting new members.

Find out who's who in our survey report.

What else you’ll learn about each generation:

  • Their highest priorities 
  • The biggest obstacles they’re facing 
  • What’s troubling them


Take Aways

The 2023 Membership Performance Benchmark Report is an invaluable tool to tap into how your peers are beefing up their operations to achieve better results. Reading this report can help you learn from their successes — and avoid their mistakes.

2023 Membership Performance Benchmark Report

Here are some additional complimentary iMIS resources that can help:

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