You’ve heard of most valuable players. They’re the stars of a team; the ones who directly impact the team’s success. Well today, we’re talking about most valuable members.

How do you determine who your most valuable members are? For every organization, the answer varies. For some, they’re the members who’ve been around the longest. For others, they’re the members who are the most engaged (attend the most events, volunteer, hold a committee position, etc.).

And there’s no wrong answer here. But, for just a moment, I’d like you to consider your most valuable members those who have recently lapsed.

Now you may be thinking, are you crazy?! Those were obviously our most unengaged members. How can they possibly be the most valuable?

Well hear me out: Those members were unengaged for a reason, and they lapsed for a reason. If you can find out what those reasons are, then you can make the necessary changes to prevent others from lapsing. Ultimately, that feedback just makes (or should make) your organization better. So yes, lapsed members are, in fact, valuable.

Now, this is not to say that your members who’ve been around the longest or who are the most engaged aren’t valuable. They most certainly are! But maybe you just call those members by a different name. Star members or member ambassadors, for example. The point here, though, is to realize that your lapsed members are valuable, too. And depending on the type of feedback you receive and what you do with that feedback, they really can be some of your most valuable.

So the next logical question, then, is how do you fully leverage those members? The value is there for the taking, but are you actually taking it?

Enter member exit surveys. By reaching out to your recently lapsed members, you can ask them how their experience was, what they liked about your organization, what they didn’t like, why they chose not to renew, etc. (Note: The keyword here is recently. You want to reach out to people whose experience is fresh in their mind. That’s how you’re going to get the most accurate and honest feedback.)

At the end of the day, what you call your members is entirely up to you. A name is just a name. But do realize there’s value in ALL your members, even those who are no longer active.

Ideally, you don’t want any of your members to lapse, so having a member retention plan in place is KEY. For a multitude of retention tips and best practices, check out our free Membership Retention Kit below!

The following blog post was originally published on 1/10/19, but updated on 3/11/20 for added value.