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9 Quick Takeaways from the 9th Annual Membership Benchmark Report

Explore cutting-edge retention and engagement strategies from membership professionals and see how their association software is helping them harness AI.

Nearly every success indicator we used in this year’s survey demonstrated remarkable results, and the report is overflowing with keen new insights.

We saw an amazing response to our 9th Annual Membership Performance Benchmark Survey1,478 membership organization professionals participated, which is a 10x increase from last year. They are all excited about new technologies, the dramatic results they’re seeing, and how their organizations are embracing digital transformation. Let’s dive into the findings.


Download the 2024 benchmark report to learn what your peers achieved… and how they did it.


Demographics at a Glance:

  • 1,478 respondents — up from 123 in 2023 
  • 44% are with professional or trade organizations 
  • 24% are in marketing/communications roles; 23% are education and accreditation professionals 
  • 48% are with mid-sized organizations ($2.4 - $25 mil)

Locations of the survey respondents - 79% USA, 7% Canada, 4% EMEIA (Europe, the Middle East, India, Africa), 9% Asia-Pacific.


Top 9 Takeaways from the 2024 Membership Performance Benchmark Report

1. Overall Membership Levels

The survey results show a strong rise in overall membership growth, demonstrating that organizations are not merely surviving but thriving after COVID. They’re using innovative strategies to attract new members and are elevating onboarding to an art form. They’re tailoring their communications, improving the online member experience, and delivering can’t-miss events.

There’s a new #1 and #2 recruiting tactic this year — see what’s working best for your peers on page 11You’ll also learn: 

  • How member satisfaction rates are trending
  • How in-person, online, and hybrid event attendance is performing


2. Member Engagement

Active and engaged members translate to higher retention rates. You can achieve this by delivering tailored programs that address members’ specific interests, providing an interactive and intuitive online member environment, and investing in association software that helps you anticipate their needs.

A big part of this is starting with a formal engagement plan. Respondents with a plan reported increases in online and in-person event attendance, awards participation, and renewal rates.

Find out more about:  

  • Engagement results and what’s driving them on page 15
  • How engagement plans impact renewal rates and event attendance


Engagement Rates Increased for 54% of Respondents, Compared to 37% Last Year


3. Member Retention 

You work very hard to recruit new members and it’s vital that you pull out all the stops to ensure they renew. There are many ways to do this — from mapping the member journey, creating member personas, designing a nurturing onboarding process, and ensuring your association software and accounting system are integrated so you can handle complex billing issues. The survey reveals how overall retention rates have changed (those reporting an increase shot up by nearly 50% over 2023 rates) and how first-year renewal rates are trending.

You’ll also learn about:

  • The top reasons members aren’t renewing 
  • Which of those reasons catapulted from 6th position in 2023 to #2 in 2024 — and what you can do about it on page 13


Recording: 2024 Membership Performance Benchmark Report deep dive webinar
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4. Strategies for Recapturing Lapsed Members

While you would prefer to retain your members, there are always going to be some who drop off. The right member management system will help you implement and maintain an automated renewal process, implement recurring memberships, and offer autopay features. And once a member drops off, there are a number of strategies you can use to bring them back.

Check out:

  • Which tactic is getting all the buzz for moving from the 6th position to #2 this year and how you can leverage it 

Email is the #1 Strategy For Winning Back Lapsed Members


5. Top Goals and Challenges

While engagement remains the top priority, respondents appear to be less concerned about acquisitions or retention and more focused on digital transformation and what it can do for their organizations as a whole. Also see:

  • Where non-dues/non-membership fee revenue is ranked on page 16
  • How respondents feel about Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) on page 17


6. AI Adoption

The survey reveals something of a technological revolution, with organizations enthusiastically embracing artificial intelligence (AI). From chatbots that provide instant answers for their members, to predictive analytics that anticipate member needs, respondents are excited about the potential of AI.

As many as 86% believe that artificial intelligence helps improve — or significantly improve — efficiency. They appear to be open to embracing the technology and many are already using it to transform their operations, streamline processes, and improve the online member experience.

Also learn:

  • How your peers are using AI right now on page 9
  • Which generation is most excited about AI on page 20 — it’s not who you might think!


86% believe artificial intelligence helps increase — or significantly increase — efficiency.


7. Generational Breakdown

In 2023, Gen X was the largest response group, but they were replaced with a new “It” group in 2024 — see page 18. We looked at how each group feels about digital transformation, challenges, opportunities, their outlook for the future, and more. This may provide some insight into how your members in each age group view key issues and how you’ll want to focus your communications with them.

Check out:

  • Which issues each group is most concerned about on page 19
  • How they feel about digital transformation on page 20


8. New Section: Union Perspectives

For the first time, we’ve included a section on union-specific results. A total of 221 respondents from union and labor organizations (15% of total respondents) shared their attitudes on hot-button issues. The section covers retention, engagement, membership levels, planned technology investments, and member satisfaction rates. You’ll also see:

  • How labor’s attitude toward AI compares to the overall group on page 22 
  • Unions’ top concern for the coming year on page 23 




9. Outlook on the Future

Each year, we measure confidence levels about future growth and sustainability and, over the past nine years, membership professionals have tended to be an upbeat group that can roll with the punches.

But they are even more enthusiastic this year. They're not just celebrating their immediate successes since the pandemic, but they’re very optimistic about what’s around the corner.

Also see:

  • How confidence levels have changed significantly from last year


2024 Membership Performance Benchmark Report

Get the full report on what your peers are doing to drive member recruitment, engagement, and retention.


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