A No-Cost Way to Both Raise Membership Dues and Benefit Members

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It’s never an easy decision to raise membership dues, but a CEO came up with a solution to not only raise dues 10 percent but also provide members with real value—making the whole process seamless and successful.

When and how much to raise membership dues is a perennially delicate topic, further complicated by the economic hardships associations have faced in the past 18 months. Many associations paused raising dues, but with escalating costs and a new year approaching, it’s time to reassess the situation.

Dan Bond, CAE, president and CEO of the Synthetic Turf Council knew it was time to raise membership dues. STC hadn’t increased dues in many years, but its board was reluctant to do it because of potential pushback from members.

Provide Members Real Value

Bond had an idea: An outside group had put together a global industry market report that didn’t focus on North America, where many of STC’s members are based. Bond spoke to the board and explained that if STC could justify a 10 percent dues increase by providing members with an industry market report they could not conduct on their own, it would be a win-win.

Bond wanted the board to focus on where STC could make the most impact and what it could do for large individual industry participants—both members and nonmembers. “I was able to work with my board and, to their credit, they saw that the goal of an organization like the Synthetic Turf Council is to provide value for members they can’t do themselves,” Bond said. “This really ticked that box.”

Bond’s team solicited a few proposals to find out how much the report would cost and targeted the dues increase to cover the cost so it could be released free to members. Some members did ask Bond if the report was necessary, and Bond explained that STC was paying for something of value for members.

“It was very important to have the right message that the dues increase was paying for an industry report that members had been asking us to do for a long time,” Bond said.

It wasn’t a heavy lift to keep track of the numbers for the dues increase and to pay for the report. STC is a small-staff association, and Bond has a good sense of the money coming in and out. He works closely with his chief financial officer, treasurer, and board of directors to keep them updated on what’s happening with the group financially.

In the end, STC was able to fold in a 10 percent dues increase to pay for the report. Through member surveys, Bond and his team could see that members responded well to the dues increase and were open to the idea because they were getting information they needed. An added bonus? Retention rates stayed about the same. And STC was able to sell the report to nonmembers for a very low, introductory price.

“We’ve had some great success,” Bond said. “We were able to pass the dues increase, put out an industry report that’s of substantial value, and it’s really set the blueprint for doing a follow-up survey in 2022.”

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