The State of Membership: 2023 Benchmarking Report

Posted By: Donna Oser, CAE Blog, Industry,

As associations hustle to expand impact and grow membership, it's helpful to have reliable performance data for comparison. Marketing General Incorporated's Membership Marketing Benchmarking Survey serves the purpose exceedingly well. The 15th annual edition of the report was published recently and includes data from 800+ unique organizations. Over the next few months, we'll share some of the research findings that may be useful as you evaluate your association's performance and plan for the coming membership year. 

This week's blog shares the high points on overall numbers and some characteristics that growing associations share.     

According to MGI, this year's data reflects a substantial rebound in association membership:

  • 49% of respondents indicated an increase in total membership 
  • 22% of respondents showed a decrease in total membership
  • 29% of respondents reported no change in total membership

Image credit: Marketing General Inc.

Through careful analysis of those associations reporting overall membership growth, MGI identifies the following characteristics as having a positive correlation to overall association membership growth: 

  • New member acquisition  
  • A compelling value proposition 
  • Compelling messaging


Adding New Members 

49% of all associations reported new member growth (up from 43% in 2022).

"Growth is very likely to occur when associations add new members to the top of the funnel." 

~Marketing General Incorporated

The median membership renewal rate is 85% and has remained relatively stable over the years, so new member acquisition is key to growth.  

Providing Value to Members

When an association's team members are confident in the value they're providing, the association tends to grow.

 "Associations that report a very compelling or compelling value proposition are more likely to see increases in their one-year and five-year membership counts and renewal rates."

~Marketing General Incorporated 

Notably, just over half of associations responding (51%) believed their value proposition to be compelling or very compelling. 

Compelling Initiatives 

Survey results indicate associations that introduced specific marketing initiatives during the past year were likelier to report membership growth. The initiatives included:

  • Developing one or more new membership benefits (48%)
  • Expanding audiences beyond the core membership (31%)

This is the 15th consecutive year MGI has conducted its annual Membership Marketing Benchmarking Survey. The report highlights the strategies and tactics membership organizations most often use and those they find most effective for the recruitment, engagement, renewal, and reinstatement of members. Download the complete report here.