Each year, in our Society Member Survey, we ask recipients if they were previously members of a society, but let their memberships lapse. 11% of the people we surveyed this year did not renew a membership.
Members join a society for many different reasons. For some it’s access to content, for others, the networking opportunities, and for many it’s a combination of different benefits. With all that a society can offer, why do some choose to let their membership lapse?
Now in its fourth year, the Wiley Member Survey has a lot to tell us about the actions and motivations of the research community. By understanding why members leave a society, we can begin to develop strategies to retain current members and determine how to win back lapsed members.
So why do members leave?
Overall, members are satisfied with the value and service they get from their societies—a trend that has stayed consistent throughout the past four years.
However, one in ten respondents reported leaving a society in the past 12 months. This year, for the first time, the percentage of those who stopped renewing because they retired jumped from 7% in 2016-2017 to 14%. More than ever, this shift underscores just how important it is to engage with the next generation of researchers and recruit members early in their careers.
Other top reasons for letting their memberships lapse include a loss of funding, followed by moving to a different region, and career change. Those from Asia-Pacific are more likely to have left an organization in the past year, as are those focused on career growth.
What can societies do to bring members back?
The good news is that three quarters of members who leave—for reasons other than retirement—are likely to rejoin. Often, lapsed members just need more communication from their society and a stronger sense of the community. So, talking to lapsed members is key: remind them about the benefits they receive from the society and help them remember what membership is all about.
Connect members with each other. Community remains one of the top reasons for joining a society. To keep your community strong, create opportunities for members to engage with each other—and with your organization—beyond your annual conference. Virtual discussion, social media channels for your society, webinars, or other online forums, can be valuable places for members to connect, especially international members.
Members that renew year after year help keep your society sustainable for the future.
For an overview of last year’s survey results, click here. Check back in the coming months for deeper analysis of current and potential members’ needs, values, and goals.
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