After all the work you put in to deliver value to your members, it should never be inconvenient to make membership payment. You need to have options, think about what might make the process easier, and sometimes have something automatic available.
I used to be with the Bed and Breakfast Association of Virginia and we dealt with smaller sized members and those who did not have large cash flows. It was hard for some of them to come up with the money to a large sum for membership one time a year, so we decided it would just be easier for us to charge them every month. Once we broke up the model, if you paid the one large sum once a year, then you paid ten percent less than those that were paying their membership dues monthly. In that way, we were able to kind of subsidize the extra charge for staff time and credit card charges, but there was some babysitting involved; there would be credit cards that get denied because it expired or they got a new card, which we needed to keep an eye on but was easy to see with reports from our credit card vendor.
In another organization I was with, we had a renewal rate between 73% and 78% every single year. When you register for membership, just as with Amazon Prime, you would automatically be in auto-renew. If you didn’t want to be on that, we sent an email message to remind members they were on auto-renew and that you can check a box to be removed from the auto-renew option. I think we’re all so used to paying our bills online automatically, and just getting fees deducted out of our credit card or checking accounts.
As an association, it makes sense for us to, again, just make it easy for people to continue to pay their membership. Being able to be flexible with how we wanted to accept our payments and then also allowing them to just be on auto-renew so they do not have to think about it again. Even if initially someone would not be meaning to renew and stay with our organization, you would then see them log in once a year or twice a year because they did need something from us. And because the membership was already paid, there was no question in their mind that they could just come to our website and get what they needed. If they hadn’t paid, I’m curious to know if they even would have shown up.
To summarize, here are a few tips:
- Be flexible with your payment options. It should not be an inconvenience to pay you money.
- Keep convenience a priority. When you collect money from your members, you need to think about what would be more convenient for them, although not necessarily for you as the organization.
- Try testing payment plans. Make it as easy as possible when your members want it, but also make up ways that you think maybe they don’t want to pay. Who knows if a monthly payment plan is exactly what they want? Maybe quarterly payments would help with their budgets?
- Consider auto-renew. It might mean a little bit of babysitting, but it would definitely be worth the extra work.