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Clubs and societies: Are you using the right payment method?

A lot of sports clubs and teams still collect their membership fees using cheque, cash or standing order. Collecting your payments by cheque or credit card can be fairly time consuming and frustrating even if you do it only once every year. And whilst standing order can be great for regular, fixed payments it can be difficult to keep on top of payments unless your club is only very small.

To help you check whether your club is using the right payment option we’ve put together a list of three quick questions:

1. Do you need all your members to pay upfront?

a) Yes. You can ask your members to pay using cash, cheque, credit card or Direct Debit. However, as chasing payments even once every year can often waste a lot of time it may be worth looking at setting up an automatic payment method such as Direct Debit. Not only does using Direct Debit allow you to avoid waiting for cheques and cash, it also allows you automatically renew memberships every year. It helps your members to stay with the club for longer and reduces admin time for both for them and the club.

If you need all your members to pay upfront but they’re unable to do so due to cashflow or another reason, you could look at using a credit and factoring company such as Fairway Credit to collect your membership fees. These companies will allow your members to pay every month whilst giving you all of the money upfront. They charge a fee (typically 6% or more).

b) No. Consider allowing your members to pay on a quarterly, monthly or even weekly basis using an automatic payment method such as standing order or Direct Debit. This can help make membership fees more affordable and as a result can help you to grow the membership of the club.

This was the case at Basildon Golf Club where, “membership was only offered on an annual basis which was too expensive for a lot of members. Since offering monthly payments, we have more members than ever and we continue to grow.”

2. Do your members ever need to pay for extras like competition entry, kit or social events?

a) Yes. If members need to pay for extras or if their fees can change during the year (e.g. if they move to a different level of membership) you can consider using a variable payment method like Continuous Payment Authority or Direct Debit.

At Chalfont Otters Swimming Club, members used to pay for their membership using standing order. As standing order payments are fixed every month, this meant any extras had to be collected separately using another method. A new standing order would also need to be created every time the club changed its fees:

“If a swimmer entered a gala they would owe extra fees which would need to be collected separately by cheque or cash. Our treasurer used to spend up to 6 hours a week chasing and handling these payments. It could also take up to six months to notice if a swimmer moved squads and forgot to change their standing order in time – chasing these outstanding payments was an accounting nightmare.”

With CPA and Direct Debit you can easily take both regular and adhoc payments without needing to chase members for extra payment. What’s more, with Direct Debit you can easily amend the amounts you charge without needing to chase your members to set up a new standing order.

b) No. If members only need to pay their regular, fixed fees then standing order could be a good option for you. However, do be aware that your members will still be responsible for making sure the standing order is set up. Unless you have only a small number of members, you may want to consider Direct Debit instead. It makes things easier both for you and your members as the Direct Debit system ensures you get paid.

3. How many members do you have?

a) Less than 25. If you’re a small club or team with less than 25 members, standing order could be a good option for you. It’s free to set up though you’ll need to do a little admin when reconciling the payments.

b) More than 25. If your club has more than 25 members, Direct Debit can often be a much better option. With standing orders you won’t know whether a payment has been set up or if a payment has failed without you manually checking the bank account every time. With Direct Debit you set up the payments and you’re immediately notified of any failures with the payment. You’ll know exactly when you have and haven’t been paid without needing to check you bank statement every time.

If you’re still not sure about whether you’re using the right payment option for you, you may find our guide to payment options helpful.  You may also find it useful to find out more about how other clubs and membership organisations like Spencer Hockey ClubRock Choir and Chalfont Otters Swimming Club are using Direct Debit to collect payments from their members.

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