What to Do If a Branch Member Leaves? Exit Interview!
When a member does not renew their membership in your branch, it is important to follow up and find out why. The goal of an exit interview is twofold: (1) to get feedback on why a member is leaving that can be used to improve your branch’s retention and engagement practices and (2) to invite the person to re-engage by addressing their concerns or identifying another way for them to get involved.
The answers may surprise you, but they will guide you to a more effective membership retention and engagement plan and ultimately help your branch thrive.
The Do’s and Don’ts of the Exit Interview
- Make personal contact with the member (phone or in person)
- Ask gently why they are not renewing
- Ask open-ended questions (see below for some examples)
- Listen carefully to their answers; encourage openness
- Respect and accept the member’s reason(s) for not renewing
- Let them know they will be missed and will always be welcome in the branch
- Encourage them to continue supporting AAUW by retaining their National and State membership
- Send the member a “thank you for sharing” note
- Ask the member if you can keep them on branch newsletter mailing list for the next year
- Track the data you receive to see if any trends emerge
- Ignore a member that hasn’t renewed their membership
- Assume you know why a member didn’t renew
- Send a form letter with a questionnaire attached
- Badger the member to renew
- Dismiss or disrespect their reason(s) for leaving
- Become defensive or negative during the interview
- Forget to leave the door open for the member to return
- Question a member in a public setting (like during a branch meeting or event)
Sample Questions to Ask During the Exit Interview
Try to work some of these questions into your conversation. You don’t need to include all of them, but they should get you thinking about what you want to learn from the interview.
- What made you decide not to continue your engagement with the branch?
- How welcomed did you feel by branch leaders and other members?
- On a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, did you feel that your ideas and contributions and those of other members were valued?
- On a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, how much were members given the opportunity to offer input on branch priorities and programs?
- Did you have a clear understanding of the ways you could be involved in the branch? (Provide examples related to your branch.)
- Did you feel that you had opportunities to engage in a meaningful way? How could we improve?
- Did you feel that there was a clear pathway toward your personal leadership development?
- How accessible did you find branch events in terms of location, cost, schedule, and amenities?
- What suggestions do you have for how the branch could improve?
Sample Exit Interview
Membership vice president: Hi Mary, this is Jane from AAUW. I’m just calling on behalf of the branch to see how you are doing. We haven’t seen much of you this year.
Mary: I’m OK. I’ve just been really busy lately. Between work and taking care of my mother, I’m hardly ever home.
MVP: I understand. Not much free time for anything else, I’m sure.
Mary: Yes, I finally had to drop out of the book group. Just no time.
MVP: I was sorry to hear that. We also noticed that you have not yet renewed your membership. Have you thought about what you want to do about your membership for next year?
Mary: I’m thinking maybe I should drop my membership since I don’t really have any time to participate in the branch.
MVP: I understand. But even just continuing your membership is participating. You are supporting our branch programs and projects with your dues. And if you renew, you’ll be able to keep tabs on the book group and drop in when you have a break in your schedule. What do you think?
Thank you for talking with me today. I hope you will continue as a member of our branch. We’ll keep in touch, and please let me know if you change your mind.
This guide is based on a resource written by AAUW of California Membership Vice President Kathy Andreini.
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