Direct Debit for membership organisations

Direct Debit helps membership organisations to improve member retention and to reduce admin and is suitable for organisations of all sizes.


GoCardless helps membership organisations of all sizes – from local sports clubs to national organisations – to collect fees by Direct Debit. This would offer you three main benefits:

  1. Improve member retention by reducing payment failures
  2. Automatically increase fees when you need to
  3. Reduce membership and payment admin

1. Direct Debit improves member retention by reducing payment failures

Many membership organisations take recurring payments by credit and debit cards. Roughly 5-10% of these payments fail each month due to cards expiring or being cancelled. This is a bad experience for your members, creates unnecessary work for them having to update their details and worst of all, if they forget, may result in their membership lapsing. In contrast, Direct Debit payments use a customer’s bank details, which rarely expire or change.

Rock Choir, the UK’s largest contemporary choir, used to take payments by card but suffered from high failure rates. Director Dave Lusher “seemed to spend all [his] time chasing people to update their card details”.

Since switching to Direct Debit with GoCardless they’ve cut their failure rate by 80%, freeing Dave to spend that time on what matters to his members.

2. Direct Debit lets you increase fees when you need to

Membership organisations may, from time to time, need to increase their fees. 

If you take payment by standing order, this can be difficult as you’ll need to cancel existing standing orders and ask your members to set up new ones. Direct Debit, on the other hand, lets you change the amount you collect without needing any further authorisation from your customer.

3. Direct Debit reduces membership and payment admin

Taking payments by cheque, cash and standing order can be a huge administrative burden, particularly as there is no automated reporting system. GoCardless gives you an online dashboard which displays the real-time status of your payments so you can see who has and hasn’t paid at any time.

Before switching to Direct Debit with GoCardless, Spencer Hockey Club, found managing their 400 members challenging. Director Mark McDermott explains: 

“We used to let members pay by cheque or bank transfer. It made collecting and tracking membership fees difficult and time consuming, and the club suffered from late and missing payments. Now 80% of our members pay by Direct Debit, and the black hole in our finances has disappeared.”

How to get started with Direct Debit

To start taking payments by Direct Debit, you can use a bank, bureau or GoCardless. If you would like to find out more about any of these options you may find our 60 second guide to Direct Debit providers helpful

GoCardless is the UK’s leading Direct Debit payments provider. It lets you automate the whole payment process and manage everything online. It offers:

  • Quick and easy sign up. You can sign up instantly and for free.
  • Easy and efficient management. You can collect recurring and one-off payments automatically, and we manage the hard parts for you. We are also integrated with many of the most popular accounting packages to enable easy invoicing and payment reconciliation.
  • Simple, low pricing. All it costs is 1% per transaction, capped at £2. Scale pricing is also available.
  • Hassle free member sign up. Using Direct Debit with GoCardless, potential members can sign up instantly set up their payments online, rather than having to deal with post.

For more information on the Direct Debit system, read our overview of how Direct Debit works. You can also watch a short video on how GoCardless allows you to save time and money when collecting payments using Direct Debit.

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