I Cancelled Three Memberships – Here’s What You Can Learn from That

May 2, 2018

Do you know what happened when I cancelled? Nothing. Literally nothing.

Don’t misunderstand. I definitely don’t think there should be big hoops to jump through to cancel a membership, but I truly wondered if the business owner even cared or noticed?

Did he or she wonder why I was leaving? Was I unhappy? Had my needs simply shifted to make a different offering a better fit? Could they have learned something that would have improved the member experience for others?

As I reflected on my cancellation, I realized that I’ve actually dropped out of three memberships recently.

Here’s what I noticed:

  1. All 3 organizations could have noticed declining utilization if they were paying attention
  2. All 3 organizations failed to reach out when my engagement was clearly fading
  3. All 3 organizations asked zero questions when I cancelled
  4. All 3 organizations made me feel like my participation hadn’t really mattered
  5. All 3 organizations aren’t likely to get me back as a member in the future

I spend a lot of my time thinking about membership models and member experience. I’m always on the lookout for what works and what doesn’t.

One of the things that I take great pride in is that my clients see high retention rates and low churn. They tend to attract members who care deeply about mission and impact. They place value not in the quantity of members, but in the quality of members and in creating real connections.

Take, for example, the Affordable Assisted Living Coalition, a trade coalition in the long-term care industry. When AALC initially became a client, I designed their first logo, their first membership application, and their first membership site. To this day, my team provides almost all of the administrative support for their operations. Over the years, the coalition has grown to the point where almost every entity that is eligible for membership actually is a member. Dropouts are extremely rare.
When I look at #1-#5 above, I can’t even imagine those things happening at AALC. That’s because their Executive Director cares deeply about member participation, would undoubtedly notice if things were amiss, and would take action before it got to that point.

AALC is not an anomaly among my clients, but they probably are an anomaly when I look across membership programs in general.

How is YOUR membership doing with respect to retention and experience? Is your cancellation rate higher than you’d like?

Have you calculated your churn rate? Do you know why people drop out? Do you have practices in place that can help you preserve members who are at risk of lapsing?

Chime in with your comments below… I'd love to hear what you're doing.


Joy Duling is Founder and CEO of The Joy of Membership.  Since 2005, Joy and her team have helped associations, trade groups and membership-based nonprofits run their programs more easily and deliver exceptional member care.

You can find FREE tools, tips and training to help you run and grow your membership organization in The Joy of Membership Help Hub.




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Hey there.  I’m Joy Duling, Founder and CEO of The Joy of Membership.

Clients hire me to help them design and deliver exceptional member experiences. If you lead an association, trade group, or membership-based nonprofit, you can find FREE resources to help you run and grow your membership organization by visiting here: http://joyofmembership.com/help

I look forward to connecting with you there.