A marketing newsletter I subscribe to recently asked, “Is your brand prepared for a recession?” and went on to explain why organizations ought to be thinking about how economic downturn could affect all sides of their business.

And it did get me thinking, in particular, about associations and chambers and your members. You see, the article notes how consumer behavior changes during a recession and that one of the first things people drop are fitness memberships.

And THAT got me thinking…how far down the line of expenses to cut are association memberships? Or for businesses who are feeling constrained, their chamber membership?

In the spirit of being proactive, here are some tactics you can use to maintain memberships if and when the next recession hits:

1. Offer discounts and/or payment plans. Anything you can do to lighten the financial burden during a recession, do it. That’ll help you retain the memberships you would’ve otherwise lost  — and perhaps even gain some new ones. (Which would be a win itself in a financially troubling time!

2. Or, create a new membership type. If your association or chamber has toyed around with the idea of a new membership type, a recession may be the time to do it. What would a very basic membership look like? One with just the most important benefits (and maybe one or two extras that members just LOVE)? That could be your solution for retaining members, even if it’s at a lower dues rate.

3. Extend your grace period. A recession is certainly the time for a little extra grace! Consider extending your grace period by a month or so, and/or increasing the benefits they still have access to during it. You want the members who do have to make the tough choice to leave to know that you still have their back and value them as a part of your community.

4. Hosting recession strategy meetings. Beyond the cost of dues, how can you help your members through the recession? What support can they give to each other? By getting your members together and not shying away from the topic, you’re showing that your organization is realistic and forward-thinking, and truly cares about doing its part to support the industry or community.

At the end of the day, the way a recession impacts your association or chamber will all come down to how well you’re already engaging your members. For some member engagement best practices, download our free guide: