Annual dues vs. anniversary dues

Annual dues vs. anniversary dues

I served as director of membership for several years at a couple of different associations. When talking with my fellow association membership pros, the question often arose: Which is best; anniversary dues or annual dues?

Some quick definitions: anniversary dues are dues that are renewed a year after the member joins (e.g., I join in May, I renew the next May), while annual dues renew at the same time each year (e.g., all members renew in January).

So which is best? Here's my general rule of thumb (keeping in mind these are rules of thumb; they are not absolute, and there are certainly exceptions):

If you're an individual membership organization (IMO), anniversary dues are best. If you're a "trade" association (i.e., organizationally-based members), annual dues are best.

Why?

Anniversary dues are like subscriptions. Buy it today, it expires a year from now. Most adults understand this, and thus explaining it is easy. In addition, IMO dues tend to be relatively low-cost (i.e., typically under $1,000) and usually a single person is making the decision about joining/renewing. So all around, it's just easier to say "Join today, renew a year from now."

By contrast, trade association dues tend to be much higher priced, and often require multiple individuals to make the decision to join/renew. And very often dues are a budget item, which means budget cycles will drive decisions. And so very often, the annual dues renewal period is set to coincide with the "typical" budget cycle of the members. For example, trade associations for schools (high school and college) often have renewals in August or September, because that's when the new budget year begins for many schools.

Like I said above, there are certainly exceptions to these rules, but in general I've found that anniversary dues are best for IMOs and annual dues are best for trades.

Wes's Wednesday Wisdom Archives

“Working with you is like going to therapy.”

October 20, 2021

“Working with you is like going to therapy.” I was working with a client last …

“Working with you is like going to therapy.” Read More »

The best ideas are stolen

October 13, 2021

The best ideas are stolen I don’t remember where I first heard it, but someone said …

The best ideas are stolen Read More »

It’s all about expectations

October 7, 2021

It’s all about expectations One of the most critical contributors to the success of a …

It’s all about expectations Read More »

Either you test, or your members will

September 29, 2021

Either you test, or your members will If I was forced to choose the single …

Either you test, or your members will Read More »

But are you really willing to change?

September 22, 2021

But are you really willing to change? When any organization is making a change in data management …

But are you really willing to change? Read More »

Two tips for data conversion

September 15, 2021

Two Tips for Data Conversion I’ve written a lot about data conversion over the years …

Two tips for data conversion Read More »

Who should “own” the database?

September 8, 2021

Who should “own” the database? One of the most common questions I get from my …

Who should “own” the database? Read More »

What makes you weird?

September 1, 2021

What makes you weird? When I work with clients on selecting a new association management system, one …

What makes you weird? Read More »

Why “AMS Consortiums” Don’t Work

August 25, 2021

Why “AMS Consortiums” Don’t Work About once a year I will get a call from …

Why “AMS Consortiums” Don’t Work Read More »

Your vendor will disappoint you

August 18, 2021

Your vendor will disappoint you I follow politics as a hobby. A past publisher from …

Your vendor will disappoint you Read More »

Scroll to Top