Membership fees and subscriptions are often one of the main sources of income for community clubs, groups or organisations.

Ideally, your membership fees and subscriptions will be set at a price that helps you to cover the costs associated with your operations. However, being accessible and inclusive about the ways people can be part of your organisation is important. This might mean considering different membership options and being more flexible, so that you can welcome people from as many backgrounds as possible. Here, we cover some of the options that may be available to you.

Different membership offers

There are a few different membership options that can help you to cater for all interested members of your local community. In addition to a full membership fee offer, you may also want to consider introducing one or more of the following:

Subsidised Membership

For people on low incomes or from low income families, paying full price membership might not be an affordable option. Can you offer a subsidised (reduced price) membership option so that these groups are able to participate?

Pay as You Go / Flexible

Offering flexible options like ‘pay monthly’ and ‘pay as you go’ can be really helpful for some people. Having a flexible membership offer can make your organisation more accessible to people who cannot afford a one-off yearly cost or those who cannot commit full term.

Families / Couples Offer

If you’re a family friendly organisation, what about offering a family or group membership option? This could help you boost your membership numbers whilst also making your organisation even more welcoming and inclusive. You could also do the same for couples.

Other Offers / Discounts

You may also consider offering specific discounts to help encourage more people to join your organisation. These could include:

  • A half season (or similar) offer.
  • A discount for older adults.
  • A discount for people who can pay early.
  • Student discount.
  • Sibling discount – similar idea to a family offer, for example discounting membership for each child from the same household that joins after the first.
  • Discounts for volunteers – this may help with volunteer recruitment and retention from within your membership.
  • Bursaries and support funds – offer a confidential application process for a select number of individuals facing financial hardship to access free membership, training, kit or equipment.

If you can offer any of the above options or discounts, you may want to promote this to your local community. Letting people know that you are making the effort to be financially accessible could help to encourage them to get involved. 

What is the right choice for your organisation and its people?

There are different ways that you may be able to make your organisation more financially accessible to your community and its people, but how do you choose which works best for you? You might want to consider following the steps below to help you identify the best choice: 

  • Talk to your existing participants about the membership offers already available and see what they think about introducing new options. 
  • Consult with groups of people in your local community to find out what membership offers would make your organisation more accessible and appealing to them.
  • Review the membership offers available from similar organisations in your area and consider what you can do to make sure you have a competitive offer.
  • Review your current financial position to help you assess what kind of changes you can introduce and when.

Above all, it is important to make sure that whatever your membership options and fees are, the price is fair and reflective of what you are offering to people. This includes everything from the programme of activities that you offer to the level of coaching available and the social activities you provide.

Collecting membership fees – things to think about

Once you’ve considered the right offer for your organisation, your people and your community, you might want to think about how you’re collecting fees. We’ve put together a few things to consider here, to help you save time on administration:

  • Agreeing payment terms upon joining: where possible, make sure people agree to the payment terms associated with their membership and any offer/discount they are eligible for when they first join. Integrating this into the joining process will help you to ensure your participants are informed right from the beginning.
  • Encourage bank transfers: try to avoid collecting fees in cash where possible. Although this might seem easier, it can be time consuming to keep track of who has paid, plus someone will need to take responsibility for paying the cash in to the organisation’s account. Instead, think about encouraging your members to use bank transfers to pay fees. It is however important to recognise that some people may struggle with this, so be open to exploring other methods with these individuals. 
  • Use online banking: If you do not already, consider using online banking. This helps you to keep track of your organisation’s finances more easily. It can also be more convenient and less time-consuming! Check out our infographic for more information on the benefits of online banking and how you can set it up.
  • Consider introducing a Direct Debit function: if you are a larger organisation, using a Direct Debit payment option might be valuable. However, this can be a lengthy and involved process which includes securing sponsorship from your bank, so make sure you explore what is involved before committing to this.

Last modified: Sunday, 27 June 2021, 9:43 PM