The decision to raise membership dues isn’t easy, but breaking the news to members is even more challenging.
The wrong approach can leave your members upset or push them away forever. While your members won’t be excited by the increasing dues, it doesn’t have to be a stormy ride.
Here are some tips for smoothly communicating your association’s elevated prices without triggering members’ negative reactions:
The news of increasing membership dues won’t come as a shock to members if they’ve been in the know for enough time before the announcement.
This is where a transparent approach comes in.
Don’t hide the issue or quickly mention the rising costs. Also, don’t report the new prices a week before the expiration date of memberships.
Instead, give your members enough information within a reasonable time frame to let them process the news and evaluate the changes.
While increasing membership dues is significant news, a common communication mistake that leads to upset members is making it into a bigger deal than it should be.
It’s natural for prices to go up. Everyone experiences rising pricing as everyday consumers, so it’s expected that your association will also have to keep up to continue delivering value.
Don’t undermine the seriousness of the news, but also don’t blow it out of proportion to avoid negative attention.
Your members are more likely to accept the increasing dues if they understand why this is happening. They need to be sure that you’re not charging more just for the sake of raising prices.
A general explanation of the situation should be enough, no need for too many details. Let your members know that you aim to provide the best possible value and experience, which is why more funding is necessary.
While you’re doing so, remember not to apologize. This puts you on the defensive by making it seem like you could’ve done something to keep the prices unchanged, but you didn’t.
If you need a large funding boost, don’t translate it into one big membership dues increase.
Members are less likely to push back, or be agitated, when the costs go up at a reasonable rate every year rather than spike dramatically all of a sudden.
Remember, membership structures like an association are meant to provide lifetime value. Short-term solutions defeat this purpose.
Offering a level of flexibility goes a long way in having members accept the increasing dues without much backfire. Provide alternatives instead of ultimatums to draw out a positive reaction.
An effective technique is to set up membership tiers so that members can have more budget-friendly options to resort to if they can’t afford the new prices.
When communicating your association’s increasing membership dues, be sure to re-emphasize the value you’re offering. Remind your members of what they’re getting and why it’s worth paying extra. Always tell the truth and never be fearful of the consequences of doing what must be done!