Why “Compounding Interest” is the Secret to Member Retention for Associations


A strong and engaged membership base is the lifeblood of any association and the key to its success. Just like the effect of compound interest on bank accounts, increasing member retention pays off in a big way over time.  As a rule of thumb, the goal is to have a retention rate greater than 90%.  

For simplicity, let’s imagine you have 100 members.  If your retention rate is 75%, two-thirds of your member base will be gone after 4 years.  If your retention is 95% more than 80% are still members after four years.  The impact of your attrition rate and member retention compounds over time.

But in this case “interest” has a dual meaning – beyond percentages, it’s a good way to think about the value that you’re providing to members.  What’s their level of interest in the services that you provide?

We’ll take a closer look at some of the best practices for compounding interest and retaining members within your association.

Maximize Engagement

One of the most effective approaches to member retention is to maximize their engagement with your association. This starts with understanding what motivates your members to join and what they hope to gain from their membership. Once you have a good understanding of your members’ needs, you can then create programs and activities that cater to those needs.

For example, if you’re addressing a rapidly-changing industry, be sure to offer professional development opportunities, such as workshops and webinars, that help them acquire new skills and keep up with trends. 

Create a True Sense of Community

Another important factor for member retention is creating a sense of community within your association. Members should feel like they are part of a larger group of individuals who share similar interests and goals. During a webinar on best practices for association marketing, Jim Wacksman, CEO of Association Studios, cited the example of members of one association  planning vacations together.  While this may be rare, it illustrates the power of building strong connections.  A community can be fostered through regular communication and interaction between members, such as through online forums, social media groups, and in-person events.

One way to encourage community building is to create opportunities for members to get involved with the association. For example, you can offer volunteer opportunities, such as serving on committees or mentoring new members. This allows members to actively participate in the association and contribute to its success.

Here’s a video produced by ASIS using AnswerStage to highlight the benefits of participating in their volunteer program. 

The Benefits of Volunteering

ASIS - The Value of Mentoring


Convey Personal Stories

The best form of marketing is conveyed in a way that people can clearly see their experiences, challenges and emotions highlighted. Sharing personal stories of how your association has benefited existing members is another effective way to retain members. Hearing directly from other members about the value they have received from their membership can help new and prospective members understand the benefits of joining your association.

You can showcase these stories through a variety of channels, such as your website, social media, and email newsletters. Consider highlighting specific members and their experiences both within the association and outside even if they seem unrelated.  Personal interests such as hiking, cooking, music and travel can help your members feel more connected. 

Provide Social Proof through Recommendations

Social proof is a powerful tool in marketing and can be leveraged to retain members and grow your association. Recommendations from existing members can help convince potential members to join your association. You can encourage members to provide recommendations by offering incentives, such as discounts on future events or free memberships for referrals.

Show How Membership Has Advanced People’s Careers

It’s essential to emphasize the career advancement opportunities that come with membership in your association. Whether it’s through professional development opportunities, access to industry leaders, or the ability to network with others in your field, membership in your association can help members advance their careers.

Host IRL Events and Get-Togethers

There’s still no substitute for meeting in real life (IRL).  Maintain a steady flow of events that people can attend in-person and supplement those with virtual events that encourage networking.  The personal connections that come from these more organic interations build much stronger bonds and help shared experiences and a sense of common purpose for your members. 


Build Excitement and FOMO

Provide Panel Previews


Member Retention is the Key!

Retaining members and maximizing engagement is critical to the success of any association. By focusing on creating a sense of community, conveying personal stories of how membership has benefitted existing members, providing social proof through recommendations, and emphasizing the career advancement opportunities that come with membership, you can help retain members and grow your membership revenues.  Improving retention by just a few percentage points has a compounding effect over multiple years in terms of revenue and growth.  Compounding interest – both in terms of percentages and level of interest – is the best way to think about maximizing member retention for associations. 


About AnswerStage

AnswerStage makes user-generated video marketing easy and cost-effectively.  Just send a link. And then automatically collect responses, produce great-looking branding videos and share them on social networks.  AnswerStage is used by leading companies and associations to promote events, reinforce the value of membership and collect testimonials.