“Before moving to GoCardless, around 700 members were paying by Direct Debit. With GoCardless, we doubled that in the course of the year to over 1400.”

Ren RenwickCEO, Association of Illustrators

Key benefits

100% increase in members paying by Direct Debit, easy access to SEPA for the European market, simple online payment setup for members

Company name

Association of Illustrators


Membership organisation for illustration professionals

Number of members

2500 and growing

Previous payment provider


Established in 1973, the Association of Illustrators (AOI) is the leading membership organisation for Illustrators across the UK and around the globe.

With 2500 members, of which about 15% based outside the UK, AOI provides support and advice for everyone from highly successful professionals to students starting their career in illustration.

A highlight for AOI is the World Illustration Awards, which it runs on an annual basis. The 2018 edition attracted entrants from over 75 countries and the collection of works were displayed in an exhibition at the world-famous Somerset House.

The challenge of manual payments

To allow the AOI to effectively support all manner of individuals and organisations, it offers various memberships. In total, the organisation offers six tiers of membership and allows members to pay for any of these on a monthly basis.

The Association of Illustrators previously collected these membership payments using SmartDebit. AOI CEO Ren Renwick explained the problems of the old solution:

Our old system didn’t automate Direct Debit at all, which was challenging, and it didn’t cover Europe at all. We chose to move so we could do both of these things.”

Ren also complained that the previous process for setting up payments for customers was very old-fashioned. “Before members used to have to send in a paper mandate - I’m amazed anyone even bothered to do that”, she explained.

The decision to make a switch led the AOI to GoCardless was also heavily influenced by finding an affordable solution. The association’s web developer identified GoCardless as the obvious new provider

Reaping the benefits of Direct Debit for everyone

Since making the switch to GoCardless the AOI has seen benefits for the business, team members involved in processing payments, and the members.

The member set up process, which now takes place entirely online, is much more straightforward. The association has received positive feedback from members on this.

GoCardless also had a positive impact on the day-to-day role of the finance manager, giving them much more readily-available visibility on all aspects of the payment collection process.

Growing with GoCardless

The resulting benefits of GoCardless have meant that the number of members paying monthly by Direct Debit has increased by 100%:

Before moving to GoCardless, around 700 members were paying by Direct Debit. With GoCardless, we doubled that in the course of the year to over 1400.”

Looking to the future

The Association of Illustrators plans for 2019 are primarily focused around delivering support and advice to even more fledging illustrators, along with continuing to deliver its existing projects and programmes.

Ren is confident that GoCardless is well positioned to scale with the AOI as its membership continues to grow. She also advised fellow membership organisations to consider GoCardless for their own recurring payment needs:

I would absolutely recommend GoCardless to people in the industry. It’s been very beneficial to us and further professionalised our offering to our members.”

Illustration by cachetejack.

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