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Survey: Association members renewed at lower rates in 2020

Top executives tell CEO Update pandemic losses, cancellation of in-person events likely contributed last year’s retention drop

Membership renewal charts

Jan. 20, 2021
By Walt Williams

Many associations saw their membership renewal rates drop in 2020 as the pandemic whittled away at the economy, with many groups anticipating those lower rates to continue in 2021, according to a CEO Update survey of top executives.

CEO Update surveyed 82 CEOs at associations with annual revenues of at least $1 million late last year. Forty-five percent of executives surveyed led professional societies while the remainder led trade groups.

Among groups in the survey, the average renewal rate among associations before the pandemic was 87%. Trade associations had an average 91% renewal rate in 2019 while professional societies averaged 82%.