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Membership Retention Strategies For Challenging Times

In November 2020 OTUS Group hosted a webinar to explore membership retention strategies. Our guests included Dana Cooper from AMCESRandy St. Louis from the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists and Tony Lyons from Alphabet Creative. We are pleased to share key insights from the webinar.

Dana Cooper from AMCES observed that it is more expensive to recruit new members than it is to retain existing membership. Yet still, membership retention often does not receive the attention it deserves as a key operational priority. Membership retention is a process.

Dana further commented that connecting with your members has never been more important due to the pandemic. People want to know how they can weather the storm throughout the pandemic and it is up to associations to connect them, build a community and provide guidance as we navigate through it. What you do now for members and prospective members during these challenging times could translate into successful recruitment opportunities for your association.

When thinking about membership retention, Randy St. Louis reminded us that it is always important to remember that you are not your audience. We often think we know what people want, and quickly assume this is what members need. When you collect information from a focus group, survey or discussion with your members, you realize that the answer is not quite what you thought.

Dana emphasized the importance of aligning with your members. Empathizing with your membership is integral to retaining them during these difficult times. He suggested that associations need to be able to provide a vehicle for people to voice their frustrations, pain, and to share with others who are experiencing similar circumstances. This enables your organization to gain insight into what you can do to provide value for your members moving forward.

Randy commented on the value of member surveys, focus groups, and data gathered from general feedback to determine what drives thought processes such as renewal decisions, why your association is needed, and why members might choose to leave. Randy said that CAOT was able to identify some things that were very important to their members through this process.

Tony explained that at Alphabet Creative, they use a fairly well-defined psychology framework, called trust, love and logic when considering membership engagement and retention. He emphasized that it is very important to understand that almost all decisions are based on a gut instinct or an emotional level. He noted that essentially, there are only three drivers of why people do things. It is recognition or familiarity, cognition or logic, then the emotional connection, a sense of hope, purpose and vision.

If your organization has any tips on membership retention, please share them with us on our LinkedIn page.

Public Relations & Communications Assistant, OTUS Group
Helping organizations tell their story.

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