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Comment: The new ACS membership model: a year in review

by Laura Sremaniak, chair, ACS Committee on Membership Affairs
May 25, 2023 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 101, Issue 17


Laura Sremaniak.
Credit: Courtesy of NC State University
Laura Sremaniak

The Committee on Membership Affairs (MAC), with the support of the ACS Council and ACS staff, launched a new membership model in 2022. The model has different membership options to suit different needs. Members can now opt for a slimmed-down set of benefits with the Standard Package, which is half the price of the Premium Package. There is also a no-cost Basic Package for community associates. The cost of ACS membership also went down for all members. MAC remains confident in this new model and will continue to refine the full suite of available options and benefits according to our ongoing assessments of the ACS community’s needs.

Overall membership in the society grew last year. We ended 2022 with over 173,000 individuals in our global membership community, compared with just over 151,000 a year earlier. But the inaugural year of our new membership model was not without challenges, which included postpandemic and economic headwinds.

There was a decline in the retention rate among members in many critical segments: student members, regular members in the workforce, and retired members (the emeritus retention rate held steady). The number of society affiliates increased by 15%, however, and the number of community associates also grew significantly. This latter group consists of those consumers of ACS programs, products, and services who sign up for the Basic Package, as well as former members, who are automatically shifted to this status 60 days after nonrenewal.

We have much more to learn over the next few years as we gather more data and enable new and better ways of understanding and delivering value to our growing, global chemistry community.

While ACS continues to attract new members, affiliates, and associates, we still have some work to do to improve current members’ engagement, experience, and retention. As a result of our fall 2022 member satisfaction survey (thank you to those who provided feedback), we know that even though overall satisfaction with ACS remains strong, the likelihood of renewal remains low in too many instances. In particular, the survey identified a problem with our value proposition: members reporting that they are not likely to renew their membership because what they put in does not match what they get out.

How is MAC addressing this? One of the committee’s duties is to review the benefit packages and ensure that they are priced correctly and have the right composition of benefits. (You can find the summary of benefits at With the help of ACS staff, we regularly analyze membership survey data and trends. We share relevant insights with the creators and owners of ACS programs, products, and services to ensure that these offerings continuously meet our members’ needs in the evolving landscape of the chemical enterprise. The feedback we receive from our community impacts our decisions to invest in programs, to improve the way products and services are delivered, and to inform other units within ACS on how best to serve our members.

In 2022, the society launched two new benefits: ACS Link (, for all members, affiliates, and associates, and LinkedIn Learning, for those who choose the Premium Package. ACS Link is a virtual network, connecting a person who has a question with someone in the ACS global community who has the expertise to answer it. Responses are voluntary, and our community has provided responses to almost 100% of the questions posed. LinkedIn Learning offers a myriad of self-paced, short courses. So far, the most popular have been Effective Speaking Skills, Microsoft Excel, Project Management, and Python. Implementation of these benefits demonstrates great progress in creating value.

What is coming up for membership in 2024? We are striving for more inclusivity by removing the age requirement for retired members who wish to apply for emeritus status, reducing the requirements for members and society affiliates with long-term disabilities to access the disability waiver, and making the Standard Package an option also available to our society affiliates. I am very pleased to report that the price of member dues will remain $160 (Premium) and $80 (Standard).

MAC moves forward with the awareness that we have much more to learn over the next few years as we gather more data and enable new and better ways of understanding and delivering value to our growing, global chemistry community. Thanks for reading and thanks for your membership. We welcome your comments at

Views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of C&EN or ACS.



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