Monday, June 25, 2007

Dues or No Dues?

Genealogy is not an inexpensive hobby. Likewise, running a family association is not cheap, when considering the costs of sending family newsletters, creating and maintaining a family website, holding family reunions, and carrying out other related projects.

Most family associations request dues from family members, typically ranging from $10 to $25 per year per family, in exchange for certain benefits like receiving the newsletter, access to certain parts of their website, and various other benefits. But what if people don't pay?

By requiring dues, your organization will likely exclude many family members. Whether they are simply "cheapskates", in a tough spot financially, or not interested in the family genealogy right now, I believe that you don't want to exclude these people. First, their situation could be much different 2 or 5 years down the road when they are willing and able to help out financially. However, if you excluded them from the association in the past, they will likely not want to contribute or they will have lost track of your organization.

One possibility is to ask for family contributions of $10 to $25 per year per family, but to make it "optional". In other words, whether or not someone pays, keep them on the mailing list to receive your family newsletter, invite them to the family reunion, give them access to all of your website and resources. Those who appreciate what the organization is doing will likely contribute...and in our experience, they may contribute far more than the $10 you asked for.

Finally, make it possible for family members to easily contribute. By only allowing people to write and send a check in the mail, you potentially lose hundreds or even thousands of dollars, simply because it takes a considerable amount of effort. Sign up for a Paypal account and accept donations through your family tree website--that way, people can pay the moment they see it and with a credit/debit card.

Whether you require dues or suggest optional contributions, make sure you have a plan of how you will finance your family association!

AddThis Social Bookmark Button