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How to Win Over Lapsed Association Members and Reel Them Back In

Membership Sabrina Gregrow

Losing members can be discouraging for any association. You’ve spent a lot of time and hard work making sure your members stay satisfied, so watching one walk out the door can feel like quite the failure.

But what if you didn’t have to say goodbye to those lapsed members for good? What if there was a way to win them back and give your association a second chance at making things right? After all, former members are already familiar with your organization, so you don’t have to spend time explaining who you are and what you do like you would with new members.

Reaching out to lapsed members to rejoin is critical.No matter the reason former members have left your association, you do still have a relationship with them. And if you can win them back over, you’ll have the advantage of already knowing how to communicate and engage with them. It just takes the time and knowledge to know exactly why they decided to leave.

With that being said, it’s up to your association to get to the bottom of the problem, reach out to lapsed members, and work hard to reel them back in. That’s why we’re here to give you a few simple solutions to help you gain back those former members.

Here are a few solutions for overcoming common non-renewal reasons when reaching out to your lapsed members, along with a few tips to help win them back.


Enlist your active members

Lack of engagement with an organization is a huge reason for not renewing memberships. If your members aren’t constantly engaging and interacting with your association and using the benefits they pay for, they may find no value left in being a member.

Fortunately, there are a few ways you can get those members back- and it starts by calling on your current members.

Your association could be enlisting your active members in a re-engagement campaign. Allowing your members to convey the value they find in their membership can give lapsed members an insight into what they could have missed out on. This could entail statements from current active members and how much they gain by being in your association.

You could also have your active members get in direct contact with former members that they had a relationship with and explain the positive effect that being in your association has given them. They can explain what the association is really about and how much they enjoy being a member. Even similarities in members can help form a relationship that will help re-engage lapsed members. This could be similar job roles, age, needs, and what they want out of their membership in general.

Allowing your current members to speak on behalf of your association can be a huge way to gain those lapsed members back because they’re able to tell former members first-hand how the association benefits them.


Promote new benefits

Chances are your association has rolled out some brand new benefits that lapsed members haven’t had a chance to learn about. And it’s those new benefits that could be the driving force behind winning back members. Think about new benefits you could promote for rejoining the association. What benefits do you think audiences would like to know about? What were other members looking for that you have recently added?

If you’ve been conducting member exit surveys, then you’re able to look back at your records to see what benefits members have noted were missing from their experience while in your association. You can use that information to do a mass campaign noting the missing benefits that lapsed members may be interested in.

You could also just simply reach out individually to each former member. Emailing members individually adds a personal touch to your message. You can inform them on new benefits, and ask them what you can do to make their membership valuable enough to return.


Show them a list quantifying your benefits

Sometimes members can’t see the return on their dues investment, so they decide to leave because they think they aren’t getting anything out of their membership. You can demonstrate the value by assigning a dollar amount to each benefit.

Your association’s benefits are worth much more than the monetary value. If you can convey that worth to lapsed members by quantifying each benefit, you’ll have solid proof that being a member with your association is a great investment.

Organize your benefits and create a list with all of the added up value of a full membership with your association. Once you’ve gone through this process, keep the list to use as a tool when it comes up in discussion with either former or existing members.

You can even use a helpful software tool to organize these benefits and keep everything in check. Association management software comes into play in this occurrence because you’re able to pull a report for each member that shows how much they’ve gotten out of your association in dollars which can help show the usefulness of your association.


Allow them to customize their membership

Members don’t want to pay for products and services they won’t use. But if you allow people to customize their membership, it could entice more people to rejoin.

Members come in all shapes and sizes, and therefore might need some benefits more than others. And if you have low-income lapsed members, they might have left your membership for lack of funds. Offering tiered memberships, or customizable levels of membership can mitigate that and allow low-income members to come back.

When developing membership tiers, think about what benefits will fall into what tiers and how you’ll price those. Do some research to see how other similar organizations have priced out their membership models and how they chose to implement it. If you put together packages that deliver membership value, you will have members within each level.


Create a new membership type

Retired members of your association are an extremely valuable resource. It’s likely they won’t need most of the benefits you offer, so you should create a new retiree membership that better fits their needs in your association.

Retirees are also great volunteers and speakers for conferences and events. If your association wants to win them back, offering volunteer opportunities can be a great place to start. Consider some kind of trade agreement where they’ll receive certain incentives in exchange for helping out several times a year.

Make sure your communication is personal- after all, these retired members were once a part of your organization and you want them to feel valued and wanted. Reaching out through a phone call can make quite the difference when it comes to communication.


Just as your association has a specific member retention strategy, it should also have a lapsed member process.

Show your lapsed members what they’re missing and what they could be benefiting from by being back in your association. Focus on those win backs and keep them from wanting to exit your association again.

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