Membership Pro Tip: Throw Members a Lifeline to Stay Engaged

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Showing members you have their back during turbulent times keeps the community together and is a way to increase renewal, retention, and engagement.

Members of the Professional Convention Management Association have been hard hit because of the pandemic, particularly its supplier members who were affected by the downturn in the hospitality industry.

PCMA has always offered a hardship dues rate for members who have lost their jobs, or are in transition, to help them sustain their membership and remain engaged with the organization. However, when the pandemic hit, they put the offer out to all members.

“Having a hardship dues rate is a great recommendation for other associations versus having members drop off,” says Meredith Rollins, PCMA’s chief community officer and foundation executive director. “Then you may never get them back.”

How Does It Work?

PCMA included some soft messaging during its regular renewal dues campaign offering a $50 hardship dues rate, which is roughly 15 percent of its regular dues, or $50 to renew. Rollins says it was important to put the messaging in the regular cadence of its communications so members could say, “Hey, that’s me. Am I eligible?” Since March 2020, PCMA has had 712—10 percent of its total members—signed up for the reduced rate.

Why Is It Effective?

It is effective for associations because it keeps members. “It’s a lot more successful for an association to retain a member than to go out and get a new member,” Rollins says. “This was a way to allow them to keep their benefits and keep connected to the community for future job opportunities,” she says.

PCMA, like many associations, put out research findings and content daily to keep members updated about COVID-19 protocols. “It was an important member benefit for them to be able to stay connected to their community, even when they are without a job,” she says.

What’s the Benefit?

For members, the overall benefit is that it allows them to stay engaged with the association, especially if their membership was employer-paid, they’re out of a job, and they suddenly have to pay out-of-pocket. The reduced rate is more manageable.

Rollins says her team has received hundreds of emails from members who took part in the hardship dues offer thanking them for allowing them to stay connected when it seemed like their whole world was falling apart. “I think it’s just about keeping your community intact and not losing touch with people just because they’re going through a job change,” Rollins says.

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