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Best ways to collect membership dues online

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Last editedAug 20236 min read

Collecting membership dues online involves using secure digital platforms to collect recurring payments from organisation or association members. This streamlines financial operations, enhances the membership experience, and simplifies administrative tasks. This approach builds trust, professionalism and enables effective resource allocation for sustainable membership growth.

Membership organisations rely on members paying their membership dues to keep the organisation running. Some membership organisations still take cash or even cheques. Most prefer to collect membership dues online. With this in mind, here is a guide to choosing the best way to collect membership dues online.

What are membership dues?

Before looking at the issue of how to collect membership dues online, it’s important to be clear on what is meant by membership dues. Membership dues are the recurring payments organisation members pay to retain membership in the organisation.  

Membership dues are generally collected monthly, but some organisations have weekly, quarterly or annual membership dues. Some organisations vary their dues according to the payment frequency. Generally, these favour members who pay more in advance. For example, annual membership dues may cost less than 12 months of monthly membership dues.

How to choose the best way to collect membership dues online

Here are the key questions you should consider when choosing the best way to collect membership fees online.

What exactly do you need from your solution?

Obviously, you need subscription and membership recurring payment features, but what else? For example, are you using membership management software or accounting software for clubs and associations? If so, do you need your solution to integrate with it?

Are you only going to be collecting membership fees, or will you need to take one-off payments as well? If the latter, do you need to use the same solution for both recurring and one/off payments?

Do you know your members' preferred options for payment? Have you actually surveyed them on this, or are you just making an educated guess?

Are you happy to pay package fees?

Package fees are the equivalent of membership dues but for payment-collection solutions. Many payment-collection solutions offer different packages, with different fees, to suit different types of merchants.

How do transaction fees compare?

In the real world, transaction fees are a significant consideration for the majority of merchants. GoCardless fees are transparent and very economical compared to other options. This is because GoCardless uses existing bank infrastructure, eliminating the need for private networks and intermediaries.

The problem with using cards is the varying fees, ranging from 1.5% to 3% based on the card issuer, which makes it challenging to predict how much you will actually pay in fees. With GoCardless, there is a 1% + $0.40 domestic transaction fee on our standard package, capped at AU$ 4. 

This means that if a merchant takes an AU$500 card payment, it will cost him between $7.50 and $15. With GoCardless, the same transaction will cost just AU$ 4.

What does a user-friendly solution look like to you?

What a user-friendly solution looks like to you probably depends on your size. For the smallest merchants, a user-friendly solution probably looks like an intuitive web-based dashboard. By contrast, for the largest merchants, it probably looks like robust support for customisations.  

For medium-sized merchants, it probably looks like a wide range of partner integrations. Partner integrations effectively allow merchants to charge payments from other software. In the case of membership organisations, this typically means their member management software.

If you’re already using member-management software, there’s a strong chance that it has partner integrations, including with GoCardless. If you’re not, then there’s plenty of information available to help you choose one. For example, if you’re running a gym, you might want to look at this guide to gym member management software.

Additionally, a user-friendly solution has to support the payment methods your members want to use. Bank debit is always a safe option because everyone has a bank account. Supporting other payment methods may give your customers more options – however, it does increase the complexity of your payment system and, therefore, your costs. If you are only collecting from domestic customers, then offering only bank payments will simplify your payment process and save you money on fees.

What does a user-friendly solution look like to your members?

In broad terms, the answer to this question is very simple. You want your members to be able to pay with as little effort as possible. In fact, ideally, you should take care of all the administration on your side. Your members should only have to take action if they want to change (or cancel) their payment.

Key Takeaways

  • Membership dues are recurring payments members make to retain membership in an organisation. They are usually monthly but can be weekly, quarterly, or annually.

  • When choosing an online payment solution, consider integration needs, payment types supported, user-friendliness for you and members, and transaction fees.

  • User-friendly for you means an intuitive interface and customisation options. For members, it means minimal effort to pay dues.

  • An ideal system lessens the administrative burden for the organisation and payment effort for members – minimising friction for all parties.

  • Partner integrations with existing membership management software can allow collecting dues directly from that software.

  • Bank debit is a universally accepted payment method. Other options add complexity but may provide members with more choices.

  • Transaction fees are lowest with bank debit through services like GoCardless that leverage existing bank infrastructure.

GoCardless simplifies the collection of membership dues by seamlessly integrating with over 350 partners, reducing manual admin and eliminating complex system integrations.

With GoCardless, businesses can automate recurring billing for membership dues – setting up customised payment schedules and reducing the administrative burden of collecting payments on a regular basis.

Case Study: 

Dukes Gym, a full-service gym, has found the perfect solution for collecting subscriptions and membership dues by integrating GoCardless into their payment processes. Owner Jonathan Quieros highlights the importance of delivering a seamless customer experience and chose GoCardless for its effortless integration with GymMaster, making payment management a breeze. Jonathan emphasises the simplicity and efficiency of the platform's integration with GymMaster, 

We only offer one payment option, and that's fortnightly Direct Debit by GoCardless. The reason for that is GoCardless has full integration with our GymMaster member management platform, so it makes payments a lot easier to manage.

This integration allows payment requests to be automatically generated and tracked, saving the team approximately 20 hours a week on administrative tasks. Jonathan notes,

The automation provided by GoCardless and GymMaster has saved us roughly 20 hours a week. That means more time training clients and working on the business. Those extra billable hours work out to an additional hundred thousand dollars a year in revenue.

Beyond time savings, GoCardless simplifies the refund process, creating a smoother customer experience. Jonathan explained,

Now, we can hit refund on any transaction directly in the GoCardless platform. This makes reconciliation so much easier, has greatly improved the overall customer experience, and stopped a little problem from becoming something bigger.

Apart from efficiency, GoCardless also stands out in terms of pricing transparency and when it comes to dishonour charges for failed payments. Jonathan acknowledged how this policy enhances the customer experience and maintains the gym's professional image.

GoCardless came in about 30% cheaper than the incumbents. And previously, customers that had transactions failed were hit with dishonour fees of up to $20, but GoCardless don't charge any dishonour fees, which customers love.

Now that he gets paid with GoCardless, Jonathan feels he’s finally getting the kind of service he and other small business owners deserve.

GoCardless actually makes me feel important, like my business – which means everything to me – also matters to them. Working with GoCardless fills me with a lot of confidence.

Looking for a better Direct Debit solution?

See how GoCardless can help your membership organisation

Find out more

How can GoCardless help?

Setting up payment collection is fast and efficient with GoCardless. By automating the payment collection process, GoCardless drastically cuts down the administrative responsibilities of managing and tracking invoices for your team.

GoCardless makes it quick and easy to get started with no contracts or long-term commitment required. You can set up one-off or recurring payments in the merchant dashboard in just a few clicks. GoCardless automatically creates and sends all the necessary forms, doing all the heavy lifting for you. You can also connect to GoCardless via over 350 partner apps, such as Xero and Salesforce.

Discover how GoCardless can automate payment collection, making it easier for you to concentrate on what matters most – your business growth.

FAQ: Membership dues

What does it mean to collect dues?

Collecting dues refers to the process of systematically gathering membership fees or recurring payments from individuals or organisations, typically facilitated through various online payment methods. It involves setting up a streamlined system to receive and manage payments efficiently, ensuring a seamless experience for members. This may include implementing secure payment gateways, integrating with banking systems, and offering multiple payment options such as bank transfers and card payments. 

Collecting dues online not only simplifies the payment process for members but also enables organisations to automate payment reminders, track payment history, and manage membership subscriptions effectively.

What is the difference between membership and dues?

Membership and dues are interconnected yet distinct concepts in the realm of organisations and associations. 

Membership refers to the formal affiliation or enrollment of individuals or entities with a specific group or organisation, signifying their participation, involvement, and entitlement to certain privileges or benefits offered by the organisation. On the other hand, dues represent the financial obligations or fees associated with maintaining an active membership. These fees are typically periodic, such as monthly, quarterly, or annually, and are collected to support the operational costs, initiatives, and services provided by the organisation to its members. 

While membership grants individuals or entities the right to access resources, networks, and exclusive offerings, dues serve as a means for organisations to sustain and enhance their activities, ensuring the continued provision of valuable benefits and services to their members. Thus, membership constitutes the relationship between an individual or entity and the organisation, while dues represent the financial aspect of that association.

What is membership dues in accounting?

In accounting, membership dues refer to the financial obligations or fees that individuals or entities incur as a result of being members of an organisation or association. These dues play a crucial role in the accounting process as they represent a significant form of revenue for the organisation. 

From an accounting perspective, membership dues are typically categorised as earned revenue and are recorded as such in the organisation's financial statements. It is essential for organisations to accurately track and account for membership dues to ensure transparency, financial stability, and compliance with accounting standards. By diligently managing the accounting of membership dues, organisations can gain valuable insights into their financial health, allocate resources effectively, and can even make informed decisions to further enhance the services and benefits offered to their members.

How do you encourage members to pay dues?

Encouraging members to pay dues is a vital aspect of successful membership management. To achieve this, clear communication is essential, and you should:

  • Emphasise the value of membership and how dues support the organisation's initiatives.

  • Offer convenient online payment options through trusted gateways, and consider flexible payment plans or prompt payment discounts.

  • Regularly send reminders via email or other channels to keep dues top of mind.

  • Create a seamless payment experience with user-friendly online platforms or mobile apps.

These strategies engage members, underscore the significance of dues, and foster a culture of on-time payments.

Over 70,000 businesses use GoCardless to get paid on time. Learn more about how you can improve payment processing at your business today.

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