If you run a membership organization, you know the importance (and the challenge!) of growing your membership and bringing in consistent revenue. You work hard to attract new members and convince them to sign up. 

But if you’re focusing all your efforts on bringing in new members, you’re missing out on another equally important source of revenue—your existing members. 

Retaining existing members—making sure they’re happy and willing to renew their membership for another term—is a much more cost and time effective way to ensure your organization keeps thriving. 

Existing members are already familiar with your work, have experienced your benefits, and have willingly paid for their membership, which means it won’t take too much to convince them to come back for another term. 

For some members, the membership just wasn’t the right fit, so they’ll likely drop off, and that’s okay! But there are always those who are on the fence—they don’t feel particularly strongly about either staying or leaving. Retaining these types of members comes down to properly stewarding them and reminding them about everything they’d be missing if they left.

That’s where membership renewal letters come in. This is your chance to not only notify them that their membership is due for renewal, but also make a case for why they should renew. 

In this post, we’ll go over everything you need to know about how to write renewal letters and emails that convince members to stay with your organization. Plus, we’ll share three templates you can modify and send to your own members that have been proven to work well for associations and chambers. 

Let’s take a look!

How to Write the Perfect Membership Renewal Letter

Your members likely receive a lot of emails and letters. So how can you make sure your renewal reminders stand out among the noise and inspire your members to take action? Here are our best tips:

1. Keep it Short and Sweet

If you write paragraphs upon paragraphs about why members should renew, chances are, no one is going to read your letter. They might skim past it, miss important details, and ultimately choose to ignore it. 

Instead, keep your message short, engaging and easy to read. Stick to your main points and break them up visually to make sure the reader doesn’t skip past them. It may also be a good idea to bold a few important phrases that summarize the gist of your message. 

2. Personalize it

Cookie cutter messages are never well received—they come across as impersonal and tend to lose their meaning. If you have hundreds of members, your letters and emails will likely be mass produced, but there are things you can do to make them seem more personal. 

For one, you can use a mail merge to include the member’s name in the salutation, their membership level, how long they’ve been a member for, their expiry date and how long they have to renew. If you’re sending an email, you can even include the member’s first name in the subject line and they’ll be much more likely to open it. 

Pro tip: Mail merging information about your members is infinitely easier and faster if you have a Membership Management Software (MMS). 

If you’re sending renewal reminders by mail, try to include a live signature and a handwritten note where you can. Your members will appreciate you taking the time to add a personal touch.

3. Subject Line

When sending a renewal reminder by email, the subject line you choose will determine whether members open your email or send it straight to the “Deleted” folder.  

To make sure your subject line gets clicked on, avoid boring phrases like “Please renew your membership”. Instead, try something like “<First name>, will you stay with us for another year?” or “Oh no! There’s only one month left until your membership expires”. Or how about a simple “We’ll miss you!” 

Get creative with your subject lines and don’t be afraid to add a sense of urgency or intrigue to entice members to open your renewal email. 

4. Communicate Their Expiry Date

This seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many membership managers miss this important detail. The fact of the matter is, your members likely don’t keep track of their own membership expiry date, so it’s up to you to ensure that they’re aware of when it’s approaching. 

In your message, make sure their expiry date is clearly stated, maybe even more than once. Consider bolding the font to make it stand out further. 

5. Time it Right

The timing of your membership renewal letter is almost as important as the letter itself. Send it too soon and it will be put off until later and forgotten about. Send it too late and your members won’t have enough time to complete the renewal process. 

As you’ll see with the renewal letter templates we share later in this post, it’s always a good idea to send a few letters and emails, each with their own timeline and intent. The first one may be sent three months before the expiry date and would act as a friendly reminder. The next one may be sent a month or two weeks before expiry and would sound a little more urgent. The last one would be sent a day before expiry and act as the last chance to renew. For anyone who doesn’t renew at this point, you can start thinking about sending letters to win back lapsed members. 

6. Use Multiple Formats 

You can choose to send a physical letter in the mail, send an email, or give your members a phone call. Our recommendation is to create a strategy that includes at least two of these methods. You can start out by sending a letter, then follow up with an email. Or you can start with an email and follow up with a phone call. 

Think about your members’ communications preferences—you may need to adjust your strategy for each individual member based on how they prefer to be contacted. 

7. Share your Accomplishments 

The number one reason why members renew their membership is because they can clearly see that their involvement and support have benefited both them and the organization’s ability to advance a mission they care deeply about. 

This is why it’s absolutely crucial for you to remind them why their membership is so important. Do this by describing some of your accomplishments in the past year, what you’ve been able to provide to your members, and what you’re looking forward to achieving in the near future.

8. Include Contact Info

Some members may have concerns, comments, or need clarification before they complete the membership renewal process. Whether you’re sending a letter or an email, include the name of a person they can contact for questions, as well as their email and phone number. 

9. Make it Easy

Members will be far less likely to renew if you make the process lengthy and complicated. No one has the time nor the patience to fill out pages of forms or look for a stamp to mail them.

Make the renewal process so easy that the decision to renew becomes a no-brainer. The fastest option would be to include a button in the email that will let members renew in a matter of a few clicks. 

Remember that not all members are comfortable with using email or paying online, so offer them other options, as well. If you’re accepting renewal by mail, be sure to include a pre-addressed and pre-paid envelope so members don’t have to worry about that. 

10. Offer an Incentive

You probably want your members to renew well before their expiry date, so you can avoid the headache of chasing them down and the worry of not having enough revenue in the upcoming year. 

One of the best ways to achieve this is by offering an incentive, such as a reduced membership price if they renew before a certain date. You can even take this one step further and offer a bundle of two or three years of membership for a discounted price. 

11. Set up Auto Renewals 

By far, the easiest way to deal with membership renewals is to encourage members to sign up for auto-renewal. This is a hands-off approach for both you and your members. Everything is done automatically—payments, access, updating information, etc.— through your Membership Management Software (MMS). If you aren’t already using MMS, you can learn more about how it can help your organization here

Membership Renewal Email Template #1: 90 Days Before Renewal Date

This letter is a gentle reminder that the renewal date is coming up in 90 days. It focuses on expressing gratitude and sharing what the organization has been able to accomplish thanks to the support of its members. 

Dear [First Name],

First and foremost, we want to thank you for your continued investment with [Organization]. Without your loyalty and support, we would not be able to continuously provide our members with valuable benefits and actively develop our [community or industry]. Put simply, you make what we do possible.

Can you believe that it’s been 9 months since you first joined? Since that time, your membership has enabled us to accomplish so many initiatives:

  1. We were able to…
  2. We held our [event]…
  3. We developed [initiative]…

We hope you’ve been able to personally benefit from your membership with [Organization]. If not, let us fix that right away! Call [representative name] at [phone number], or email [him or her] at [email address] to see how we may better meet your needs.

If, like most of our members, you are satisfied with your membership, consider renewing now at [renewal URL]. Your early renewal will help us plan for next year’s programming. Make sure to let us know if you have any suggestions. We’d love to hear your feedback!

Kind regards,

[Name]
[Title]

Membership Renewal Email Template #2: 15 Days Before Renewal Date

This letter is sent 15 days before the renewal date and includes more actionable language to help members complete the renewal process on time. It also focuses more on the benefits members will receive if they choose to renew.

Dear [First Name],

Your [Organization] membership expires [date], and we sincerely hope that you will join us for another outstanding year of great programs and professional development.

Good news! There’s still time to renew, and it’s as easy as ever with these options:

  1. Click on this link, [renewal URL], and follow the prompts.
  2. We will have a table set up at the [date(s)] meetings to accept your renewal payment.
  3. Print and complete the attached form, and mail it in with your payment.

More good news! This year we have an extra incentive for you to renew your membership by [date]. If your renewal form and payment are received by [date], you will be entered into a drawing for an [offering]!

[Organization] values you and helps you meet your professional goals in several ways, including…

  • [Benefit highlight]
  • [Benefit highlight]
  • [Benefit highlight]
  • [Benefit highlight]
  • [Benefit highlight]

Please let us know if you have questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

[Name]
[Title]

Membership Renewal Email Template #3: Expiration Day

This letter is sent on or just before the renewal date. It has a sense of urgency, but doesn’t pressure members to renew, focusing instead on how much they would benefit from continued membership. 

The options outlined here are also more time sensitive. While the previous letter offered in-person renewal and a mailed in form, this one urges members to complete the renewal process online or by phone. 

You can also supplement this message with a quick follow up phone call to check if members have received it and to offer your guidance through the renewal process.

Dear [First Name],

It’s been a year since we first met you, and we’re looking forward to many more years! Did you know that your [Organization] membership expires today?

Please don’t let your membership lapse! There are better options than paying an additional [dollar amount] to attend monthly events as a guest (guest rate is [dollar amount]) or rejoining at the new member rate of [dollar amount].

The good news is, there’s still time to renew!

  1. Click on this link, [renewal URL], and follow the prompts.
  2. Call us at [phone number] and we’ll renew your membership over the phone with a credit card.

Remember, [Organization] values you and helps you meet your professional goals in several ways, including:

  • [Benefit highlight]
  • [Benefit highlight]
  • [Benefit highlight]
  • [Benefit highlight]
  • [Benefit highlight]

Please let us know if you have questions or concerns. We’re here to serve you!

Best regards,

[Name]
[Title]

So there you have it! Use the tips and templates above to craft the perfect renewal letter or email and watch your membership thrive!

If you’re looking for more information on what you can do to retain members, check out our free Membership Retention Kit below!