There is no "one-size-fits-all" when it comes to setting membership fees. In some cases a high fee is appropriate, in others a low membership fee is appropriate and there are even cases where no membership fee is the best way to go.
In the past, associations would set a fee and then all (or the majority of) services would be provided free of charge. This is now generally understood to be an inherently unfair model as it means that non-active members are subsidising the activities of active members. This model also encourages redundant services to be retained because "we've always done it".
In recent times the "fee for service" model is increasingly popular. While there are different extremes to this model, the most popular method is that the member pays a fee and receives a basic suite of services that may or may not be tailored to their specific segment. After joining members pay for additional services (generally receiving a member discount on the services if available to non-members). If choosing this model it is important that, within the basic suites of free services provided as part of the membership, there are services that provide truly tangiable and exciting value for the member. Just providing a magazine and discounts on events isn't generally enough.
Even more recently, we are seeing some charities making the foray into fee free memberships. The concept of fee free membership has been driven by the need of membership organisations to adapt to the challenges of the new marketplace including the advent of social media. Click here to read more about fee free membership.Comment on this resource