Membership Models Shift Toward Tiered Dues

Chambers with a tiered dues membership model have increased significantly over the last three years, according to the latest opinion poll conducted by W.A.C.E.

Forty-one percent of chambers reported having tiered dues, where dues increase based on the level of benefits received, while another 41% of chambers reported having an employee-based dues structure.

Only 3% of chambers reported having an industry-based dues structure—one where the membership dues differ based on the member’s industry type. The remaining 16% reported having some sort of hybrid dues structure.

“I think it’s clear that chambers are shifting toward tiered dues,” said W.A.C.E. Vice President Russell Lahodny. “In just three years from the last time W.A.C.E. asked these questions, chambers with employee-based dues dropped from 53% in 2016 to 41% this year. A 12-point shift is pretty significant over a three-year span.”

Lahodny continued: “Interestingly enough, employee-based dues are more popular among chambers with less than 500 members or chambers with more than 1,000 members. Tiered dues dominate in chambers with 501 to 999 members.”

Online Membership Sales

Nearly 9 out of 10 chambers reported the ability for members to join and pay for membership dues online. This represents an increase of 7 percentage points from 82% and goes hand in hand with chambers having a tiered dues structure, according to Lahodny.

“Chambers often allowed members to submit an ‘application’ online, but the member couldn’t pay because the fee was based on employees,” said Lahodny. “With a dues structure that is based more on benefits than employee count, there are less concerns of lying to pay less for membership. Still, some chambers believe that building the relationship is more important than a quick online member that might not renew after the first year.”

Backup Data

Seventy-four percent of chambers reported asking for the names of multiple representatives from the new member’s company on their membership application. This is an increase of 5 percentage points from the last survey.

“Not only is the information important in case the main contact within the company leaves for any reason, but it helps from a marketing standpoint,” Lahodny said. “Being able to reach the right person within a company can help in multiple ways. If you have a workshop that is geared toward HR, a sales representative probably isn’t going to be your target market.”

Follow Me

More chambers are engaging with their members on social media by asking for links to their profiles on membership applications. According to this year’s data, 62% of chambers now ask for social media profiles compared to 49% from the last survey.