President's Perspective Blog

Member Dues for 2023: Balancing Accessibility With Financial Stability

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(AFP board policy requires a review of the existing dues structure every two years. During the review, the Member Dues Task Force takes into consideration AFP strategic goals, current and projected economic conditions, impact on member services and overall financial impact and presents a recommendation to the AFP Global board. The recommendations will address any potential change in dues pricing, including timing and process for implementation of any changes proposed. This year, Paula Attfield, CEO of ST (Stephen Thomas Ltd) and former chair of AFP Canada, led the task force in its deliberations.)

Paula Attfield, Chair, 2022 Member Dues Task Force

Is there a more fun job than chairing the Member Dues Task Force? What better message to write than telling members how much their dues will increase the next year? (Thanks, Mike, for inviting me to write this one!).

Okay, so in all seriousness, being involved in the Member Dues Task Force—which I’ll now refer to as MDTF, it rolls right off the tongue!—was one of the most interesting volunteer activities I’ve ever had the pleasure of participating in.

I am grateful for the task force members, who put so much effort into their work. They represented chapters from across the U.S. and Canada and collected feedback from chapters both big and small (and in between) and data from the AFP Membership Department. You can find a full list of the task force members at the bottom of my article—thank you all!

We took deep dives into membership value, what members expect us to make priorities (one example: IDEA—inclusion, diversity, equity and access) and the continuing impact of the COVID pandemic. During deliberations, we heard from many of you that any major increase in dues would have a detrimental impact upon membership; small organizations need AFP the most; and that young professionals are our future. The conversation was so rich that our findings included a recommendation for deeper dives around membership value and relevance, as well as greater financial support and sustainability of chapters, that went well beyond the scope of our task force.

In some cases, much of our work was already done. Several years ago, the AFP Global Board agreed to minimal automatic dues increases every two years. Accordingly, the Professional and Associate categories (roughly 60% of our total membership) will see just a two (2) percent increase in January 2023. In addition, the Retired, Business, Collegiate and e- Global categories will see no increase at all.

We spent most of our time reviewing the following membership categories: Young Professionals (age 30 or younger); Small Nonprofit Organizations; Collegiate Memberships; and Large Nonprofit Organizations. These four categories were last increased in March 2017, and we agreed these categories should be examined to be made more accessible.

Young Professionals

For the Young Professionals category, AFP sees many members drop out at age 31 when their dues jump to the full professional rate. Through marketplace studies of other associations, we know that young professionals typically have the lowest retention rates, are the most transitional (and therefore harder to keep) and are not always entirely invested in the profession yet at that early stage in their career.

At the same time, these members also represent the future of the profession. So, we recommended a stepped approach that could gradually acclimatize employers (who typically pay dues for young professionals) towards full membership dues:

  • Younger Than Age 27: Annual dues of $95 (chapters receive $30)
  • Ages 27 – 30: Annual dues of $175 (chapters receive $55)
  • Ages 31 and Older: Professional dues take effect

In addition, the MDTF recommended that AFP continue to develop, refine and articulate the member value of the Young Professionals category to help us attract and retain these members.

AFP Nonprofit Organizational Membership - Small

We heard from small nonprofits that they rely heavily on the education provided to their staff through this membership category, which made the task force think there were opportunities to create incentives for more organizations to join. Increasing the current $1 million cap would be more inclusive and benefit more organizations. At the same time, the impact on AFP finances would be minimal, and increasing this category member dues by a marginal amount would further offset any losses

Our final recommendation was to increase the budget criteria limit for Small Nonprofits from $1 million to $2 million while raising the fee by just $10, an amount which would be fully sent back to the chapters.

AFP Nonprofit Organizational Membership - Large 

Currently, Large Nonprofits must have at least eight members in order to enjoy the benefits of this category, which starts at $2,200. This works out to $275 per member, including $55 to the chapter. During our work, we heard that the number of required members made it difficult for some organizations to become members.

So, we recommended that the minimum number of members required for a charity to become a Large Member be decreased from 8 to 5. Concurrently, we adjusted the per-member price slightly upward to $285, with $55 still going to the chapter. The new Large Organizational membership will start at $1,425 with a minimum of five members. These changes should make the category more accessible, and while the per-member price is slightly more expensive, it is still a discount compared to the individual Professional rate.

Collegiate Membership

Collegiate members would ideally be supported by their local chapter based on geography. This category needs further exploration as to how that could happen logistically. AFP staff is looking at alternative options for this category, so the MDTF decided to not make any recommendations at this point.

Associate Category

While we didn’t examine the membership dues for the Associate category, we did feel that there is a lack of understanding around this category generally. Many members seem to believe that this category is where consultants’ memberships are held. However, most consultants join as Professionals, and the definition of Associates (“individuals or volunteers (a) who are engaged in fields related to fundraising and fundraising support, or (b) who have mutual interests with fundraising professional") indicates who the category is truly meant for: non-fundraisers. We have recommended that staff refine the definition of the Associates category for these reasons.

So that’s it. Really. You can find a short summary of all the changes here.

I hope my comments show how the MDTF went about its process and the seriousness with which we took our role. What was most important for us was to find that balance between keeping membership categories and dues accessible to as many fundraisers and charities as possible, while ensuring that AFP has the financial resources to continue its important work. I know this is a process many of you are involved with at your own organization. It’s not easy, but it’s also exceedingly satisfying to have been a part of it, and I hope these changes will help many of you become and stay a part of the AFP community, either now or into the future.

2022 Member Dues Task Force Members:

Paula Attfield, Chair (Greater Toronto Chapter)
Kevin Sturtevant, CFRE (Greater Washington, DC Metro Area Chapter)
Pati Greenwood, CFRE, MBA (Greater Toronto Chapter)
Nicholas Kulik, CFRE (Northeastern Ohio Chapter)
Michelle Taylor Edgerton (Minneapolis Chapter)
Jonathan James Meagher-Zayas, MPA, MSW (New York. Genesee Valley Chapter)
Alyson Stoffer (North Carolina, Triangle Chapter)
Michelle Vryn, MA (Greater Austin Chapter)
Clarissa Reis, CFRE (Northeastern Indiana Chapter)
Travis Christopher, CFRE (North Dakota Chapter)


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