With the cost of living sky-rocketing in the UK and Ireland, grassroots clubs are caught between a rock and a hard place with increased operating costs meaning they need to increase membership fees but many members have less disposable income. Ultimately, nobody wants to see someone unable to enjoy sport because they can’t afford it but equally clubs need to ensure they are covering their costs.
To help clubs navigate this tricky situation, here are our top tips on how to handle increasing membership fees in the current environment:
The number one rule around any cost increase is communicating clearly with your members. Most of your members will understand the need for the changes. Make sure members understand:
- Why the decision has been taken
- What their membership fees provide for (e.g. maintenance, equipment, coaches, facilities etc.)
- Any plans you’ve put in place to help members manage the increases
- How they can discreetly ask for help if they need it
Often a good way to communicate this is via an email sent to all members from the Club Chair. In your communications, make sure you don’t underplay the value of your membership though – grassroots sports club memberships are still incredibly good value for money on the whole!
A really simple way to make it easier for members to deal with any increases to your membership fees is to put in place instalment plans so they can pay off their annual membership fee over a longer time period. As a club, you need to double-check check this won’t cause you any cash flow issues (e.g. if there are any big costs you need to pay early in the year) but this can be managed through setting a slightly larger instalment at the start of the season if required. Instalments are a great way to ease the pressure on members.
Clubforce Membership makes it simple to set up instalments – just speak to your club contact if you’d like to include this in your membership plans for 2023.
As well as instalments there are other creative options that you may be able to put in place to make this time easier for members. For example, you may wish to put in place specific plans for families with multiple children who may be disproportionately affected by any membership increases.
Clubforce Membership has many flexible ways to configure customisable membership plans – speak to your club contact to discuss how best to implement any membership structures you want to implement.
Handling sensitive situations
Inevitably there will be some families who will struggle to pay membership fees in 2023. It’s important to try and make these tricky conversations as easy as possible and remember that no two people are the same. Some members may want to just be able to discreetly email a committee member whereas others may want to have a quiet word with someone in the club they trust. As a club, it’s important to make sure these routes are clearly signposted and followed up in a sensitive and discreet way.
At Clubforce, we provide a mechanism to support these situations where clubs can generate one-off discount codes to supply to those families who may need a bit of extra support. You can find out more about this feature here.
Ultimately the best way to help keep membership fees affordable is to fundraise regularly. It’s really simple to set up an online lottery for your club which could bring in a regular income for your club throughout the year. When you are promoting any fundraising activity, make sure you let your members know what it contributes to. For example, you might want to say something like “our club’s online lottery helps pay for the upkeep of our facilities and keep your membership fees down” to encourage them to promote the fundraising activities in their own personal networks. You can also reach out to your club alumni and diaspora around the world – remind them how much they benefited from the club in the past and how they can support the next generation of athletes in the club.
Clubforce has been used by thousands of clubs to take their lottery online – if you’d like to find out more or see a demo click here.