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Best ways to collect membership dues online

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Last editedMar 20233 min read

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 of 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.

For example, GoCardless offers four packages. These are Standard, Plus, Pro and Custom. The Standard and Plus packages are geared towards small and medium-sized merchants respectively. The Pro and Enterprise packages are geared towards larger merchants.

The Standard package does not charge package fees, only transaction fees. This means that merchants only pay when they use GoCardless. There is no commitment. They can cancel whenever they want. The Standard package has all the functionality most smaller merchants require. Medium and larger merchants get value from the Plus, Pro and Custom packages.

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. There is hence no need for private networks and intermediaries.

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.

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.

How can GoCardless help?

GoCardless is a global payments solution that helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of financial admin your team needs to deal with. Find out how GoCardless can help you with one-off or recurring 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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