Any membership group has to, at some point, raise dues in order to stay operational. Whether it is increased costs associated with taking on new initiatives or just trying to keep up with the increases in the costs of doing business, every association has to re-examine its dues structure at some point to determine when and how to raise the financial obligations of members.
According to the Associations Now website, most membership groups avoid getting input from members on raising dues. But allowing members to vote on potential membership rate increases is not such a bad idea. Actually, when it is done right, then having members vote on dues increases can actually help to retain more members and make recruiting easier.
Increasing Dues Can Cost You Members
The obvious con to raising membership dues is that you will start to see your membership list decrease, almost immediately. According to the Center For Association Leadership, groups that raised dues by 20 percent or more saw a decrease in membership of at least 35 percent. The problem here is that raising the dues was done to cover increasing costs, but losing members will cause a lot more financial pain than not raising dues.
Make Dues Increases A Regular Thing
One of the first steps to making a dues increase a positive thing is to make it part of your organization’s culture. Instead of randomly raising dues on an as-needed basis, you should make it an annual part of your organization’s process. Some groups even go as far as spreading out dues increases to every two years. When members know that the increase is coming, then it is easier for them to accept.
Give A Good Reason For The Increase
The Golf Course Superintendents Of America raises its dues once every two years and uses the Consumer Price Index as the foundation for its increase. Every two years, the group sends out letters to its members with the latest CPI analysis and how it will affect the costs of doing business. Members know exactly how much the dues increase will be and why it is necessary.
This can also work if your organization decides to take on a new initiative or offer new services. As long as you provide a detailed reason for the increase, then your members are much more likely to accept the increase and your membership revenue will not suffer.
Let Them Vote On It
If you have made dues increases a predictable part of your organization’s culture and if you provide your members with good reasons for the dues increases, then allowing members to vote on the increases becomes a very strong way to enhance the relationship between the organization and its members. When you follow the right process, your members will feel informed and feel like they are valued parts of the organization. A vote on dues, when done properly, can be an extremely powerful administrative and marketing tool.
Happy Members Are Your Best Source Of Referrals
When you allow your members to vote on dues increases, you develop a sense of trust between the organization and its members. Not only does that lead to a lower instance of declining membership, but it inspires members to go out and recruit new members for the organization. By keeping your current members involved in the financial future of the group, you are laying the foundation for future success and growth.