February 17, 2013
As you look at your organization’s financial status, you may have to make the difficult decision to raise dues to keep up with your expenses and stay viable. Obviously your members won’t welcome an increase with open arms, but there are ways to increase dues in a way that members feel comfortable with. The beginning of the year is a good time to begin to think about raising dues.
Here are some tips to handle the increase:
Lay the Foundation: Review your bylaws and make sure you have all the technical pieces in place to allow for the increase. Introduce the idea to your Board of Directors early so they understand why the change is necessary and that they should support it for the good of the organization.
Tell a Story: When you’re ready to introduce the change to the membership, prepare to explain how their dues will be used. Lay out how the fees are currently used, and if the increase will fund a new initiative, explain why that program will be worth it. You should communicate this messaging through various outreach all year long; don’t just introduce a big increase in a cover note sent with the dues invoice.
Focus on Value: If you have communicated an ongoing message of the value of membership, at the end of the year, members will feel comfortable with an increase in their dues. Remind them why they joined in the first place and what they continue to get out of their membership. If they have that value in mind, they won’t mind paying a bit more for the benefits they receive.
Offer Options: If the increase is substantial, you may want to consider creating a yearlong payment plan so that the increase will not be overwhelming in one lump sum. Allow your members to pay in multiple payments.
Have you ever raised your organization’s dues? What tips can you share for communicating such a big change?