The Ultimate Guide to Building a Sustainable Membership Cycle

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The Ultimate Guide to Building a Sustainable Membership Cycle

Content Strategist
6 minutes read
Last updated: October 11, 2023

Building a successful membership cycle is crucial for the success of any association. It helps to ensure that your organization is continuously thriving, engaging with members, and providing them with value.

But how can you build a sustainable cycle that keeps getting more members for you as well as keeping the ones you already have?

Read on to explore the three main stages of the membership wheel, the key strategies that can help you boost your renewal rates, and effective tools to maintain the wheel.

Quick Reads

The Three Stages of the Membership Cycle

A membership cycle outlines the various stages a person goes through from knowing your organization to building a long-term relationship with you.

For ease of understanding, we have divided the process into three stages:

Member Acquisition

Being the first stage of the membership cycle, acquisition refers to the process of attracting new members to join your organization. The goal is to identify potential customers and convert them into actual members through effective communication, promotions, and incentives.

This stage involves identifying the target audience, understanding their needs and preferences, and creating an effective marketing and recruitment strategy to attract them.

The key objective of this stage is to increase the number of members and grow the membership base of the organization. Because an organization cannot renew itself for growth, membership acquisition must be an ongoing endeavor or the organization will shrink.

Member Engagement


Maintaining a positive relationship with existing members involves creating an experience that encourages their participation and loyalty.

Thus, your member engagement strategy must involve regular communication with members, providing opportunities for them to contribute to your cause, and recognizing their contributions.

The key objective of this stage is to retain the existing members and ensure they continue to be engaged and satisfied with their membership.

Member Renewal

To maintain sustainable membership growth, you must ensure that your members do not lapse and remain loyal to you. This means addressing all the reasons why your members can churn.

Here are some common reasons why members lapse, and what you can do to prevent them:

  • Cannot relate to the organization’s mission - Offer more participation and volunteering activities
  • Do not feel engaged with the members - provide more networking opportunities
  • Don't feel valued - Appreciate them more often
  • Cannot justify the membership costs with the ROI - Add more value to your membership plans
  • Employers stop paying for their memberships - Offer reinstatement programs
  • Forget to renew their memberships - Send reminders for renewals through notifications or emails

How to Build a Sustainable Membership Cycle?

The answer lies in the question itself, “By building a sustainable membership cycle”

This means "getting more members on your acquisition stage and keeping them engaged enough so that they keep renewing their memberships every year!"

However, the process is not as simple as the statement.

To ensure a successful membership cycle, you need to create smart strategies that keep your membership graph growing.

Here are some key strategies that you can follow for boosting your membership renewal process.

Define your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile)

The first step in building a successful membership cycle is to understand your ideal customer profile (ICP).

Unlike "target customers," which refers to any person that might be interested in your organization, the ICP is focused on the most valuable prospects that are also most likely to become your members.

This involves understanding your current members and their needs, identifying potential members, and creating personas for your ideal member profile.

Defining your ICP well helps you a great deal in tailoring your membership value proposition and recruitment strategy accordingly.

Dig into Your Member Journey

The purpose of member journey mapping is to document your member's entire experience, starting from the initial point of contact, whether it be social media, email, or an event they attended. It then tracks the member's engagement with the organization throughout their membership.

Mapping out your members’ journey can help you identify the shortcomings in your process. For example, it helps you rule out the stage where your potential member left out the funnel or a particular campaign they found most relevant (like events and emails).

Develop a Membership Value Proposition


The next step is to develop a clear and compelling membership value proposition. This involves identifying the benefits of membership, communicating it to potential members, and continuously evaluating and refining it.

Your value proposition should clearly communicate the benefits of being a member, such as access to exclusive resources, networking opportunities, and discounts on events and products.

Make the First Impression Count

Onboarding is the first step towards familiarizing your members with your organization.

The onboarding experience you provide your members will help you make a positive first impression on them and motivate them to get involved right away.

The best way to impress your members is to have a customized onboarding plan with a coach. This makes them feel special as well as shows that you appreciate each member of your organization. Additionally, this personalization adds a warm feeling that emotionally hooks them to your association from day one.

Read more: 20 Creative New Member Orientation Ideas for Onboarding

Create a Members’ Community

People love to be in the company of like-minded individuals and you can leverage this desire to build sustainable membership growth.

Many associations are creating members’ communities to foster positive relationships and long-lasting connections. The reason behind this is very strong - your members can leave an organization but they can never leave a community!

Glue Up offers a community management platform that is specifically designed for organizations like you. It's a private, tailor-made digital space where your community can communicate without fear of being disrupted or hacked.

Thus, it brings your members to close together to build a successful membership renewal process.

Thank Your Members for Renewing

As mentioned previously, members who feel unvalued are more likely to churn. This is the reason you should keep showing gratitude to your members and demonstrate their value in your community.

Offer participation-based activities where they can resonate with your mission. This can include volunteering in events, marketing activities, and operations, wherever they can provide a valuable contribution.

Once they participate, show them appreciation by giving them certificates, posting appreciation posts, or awarding them monthly. A happy member who feels like an important person in your organization is very unlikely to leave.

Choose the Right Channel for Communication

Overwhelming your people with dozens of emails and notifications every day can backfire. Instead of bringing them closer to you, you may frustrate and drive them away.

This is why choosing the right channel where your members are most active is imperative.

Another good idea is to give your audience time to miss you. Thus, the ideal connection time is twice a week, whether it's a community post or a personalized email.

Automate Your Membership Growth

Do the processes mentioned above feel too much already? Try leveraging technology to do the heavy lifting for you.

Glue Up’s member management software is an all-in-one solution that automates your entire membership growth cycle. It helps you build, manage, and engage members at all stages in their journey with a click of a button.

The software features different functionalities that are designed to boost your renewal process while making our customers more effective and flexible. From managing registrations and collecting payments to facilitating successful events, the ecosystem automates all your membership processes. As a result, you will be able to:

  • Get more time on your hands to focus on your core mission.
  • Notify members whose membership is about to expire via push notifications or email.
  • Collect online payments and generate automated invoices.
  • Offer a private community platform to your members for networking.
  • Run online and offline events from the platform.
  • Set up email campaigns for your members.
  • Analyze their engagement with a unified dashboard.

To know more about the platform, download our eBook, Manage Your Association in Under 25 Minutes a Day, or contact us to get a live demo today.

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