Duncan Grant, of the Membership Organisation, has produced an excellent report summarising where professional membership organisations are in addressing the challenges and opportunities around member engagement.

Key findings

The report is based on the findings of a number of key research initiatives in recent years. The full version can be viewed here but some of the highlights, across various studies, include:

  • Only 19% of professional bodies are able to make a link between member engagement and retention
  • The value of membership of a professional member association has shifted from being about information to networking. 58% of members join an association because they want to network with others in their field (vs. only 26% who want to learn best practices).
  • Lack of engagement with the membership organisation is the most commonly cited reason for non-renewal.
  • 59% of associations report an increase in participation in a private social network run by the membership organisation.
  • Member engagement is the top priority for professional membership organisations for the third year running with 60% of such organisations having either a formal or informal member engagement strategy.
  • Members’ perception of actual value they receive typically includes the feeling of being part of a community.
  • Members most value: access to help and support, enhanced status, having a collective voice.


In summary, engagement, however that is understood and measured, is as vital as ever to member retention. Digital forms of networking are increasingly important to help members feel part of a community and to give them a sense of status, and to have a voice, within their industry.  

Guild’s focus on professional communities, and reinventing professional networking for the mobile age, plays very much to these trends and we’re glad to be working with many professional membership organisations to engage their members better and improve retention rates.

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