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How Complex Can Membership Management Be?

We provide proposals for all sorts of membership organisations, and we've noticed some have simple membership structures and rules, while some have very complex ones. Here's a summary of two ends of the scale.

The Details

Membership organisations can vary greatly. At one end of the scale may be a requirement for a simple list of people who are members, with a requirement to produce an invoice and activate a basic subscription which triggers online page access, and email marketing.

At the other end of the scale are larger membership organisations with sets of complex subscription based products relating to individuals, where that membership in turn carries conditions that people are connected to organisations, which in turn have separate membership rules, and multiple layers of page access.

Taking into account different membership types, statuses, subscription periods, and multiple payment types across these variations in conjunction with an organisations internal processes, makes it difficult 'out of the box' membership systems to meet and organisations requirements.

Other considerations for more complex membership handling can include:

  • Membership or subscription products may require a different renewal date.
  • Members may be required to change payments from annual to monthly.
  • Subscription product payments can be separate to membership payments.
  • Also taking into account corporate membership rules for part membership, application fees, and cancellation fees.

How then can an organisation take care of these issues without creating a multitude of internal processes that are staff and resource heavy on an ongoing basis, reliant on spreadsheets, and other third party tools and software to maintain?

See a comparison chart simple vs complex

The Solution

There are a number of things that an organisation can do, however often changing the core membership structure will require a formal approach with viability studies, voting and board approval required to update constitutions.

These actions may well result in reduced administration, clearer guidelines to benefits for current and future members, and from our point of view, less complexity and cost in membership management software.

There can be benefits achieved by stepping away from the status quo which often is a result of legacy over time of "always doing what we've always done".

Here's some tips to simplify your membership rules:

  • Simplify structure
  • Tie membership types directly to the benefits they receive
  • Cater for the majority
  • Treat all members in a similar fashion
  • Remove exceptions

Where a simpler structure or reduced parameters are not possible, favourable or practical, the rules that apply should be clearly established and documented.

Stream Interactive can tailor your software solution to meet the rules and processes identified and we will likely suggest some new options along the way.

Our end goal is to reduce reliance on multiple software, duplicated data and complicated administration processes, saving time, money and improving accuracy of membership records, and delivery of member services.

All of these things are good for your members!

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