Community Groups & Money
May 27, 2007 2:47 PM   Subscribe

How do small community groups with branches in different areas manage membership fees?

We're trying to form a community arts project whereby people meet up in cafes every week and experiment with different art projects. (inspired by this AskMefi thread actually!)

The idea is that we'd start out with one group, then as membership grows, we'll have smaller groups meeting up in different parts of the state/country. Each group would the have its own coordinator, which reports back to the head office. However, we're stuck on how to effectively charge membership fees, especially when the groups start to expand location-wise.

The money's meant to help cover expenses and materials, both for the group itself and the head office.

We have these few options:

a) Charge each person an individual fee that goes straight to HO, then give each group some money
b) Ask for donations during each meeting, and the group leaders decide what to do with the money
c) Charge each group a set fee and let the group leaders decide how they'll raise the funds
d) Have the groups decide if they want a fee and find funding for the HO some other way

What other options are there? How else can we raise money? How have other similar groups gone about this?

(This is for an assignment, but we're given free reign on research.)
posted by divabat to Work & Money (1 answer total)
In Toastmasters, which is a very large example of what you're talking about, there's a set membership fee that goes back to Toastmasters International, which becomes the base fee for members of every local group. Local groups then add their own membership fees on top, and charge members a single amount, after which they remit the TI membership fee to Headquarters.

This allows individual groups to accommodate the very real differences in their circumstances -- some rent space or pay for food to be brought to each meeting or cover expenses like photo copying and web hosting for their groups. Others exist within corporations where the corporation covers the space and photocopying and do without food to keep costs low. Membership in Toastmasters in Toronto varies from about $75 a year for corporate clubs with no expenses above and beyond the TI membership to $300 a year for clubs with expensive rental spaces and food at most meetings.

It also ensures that TI gets a fairly consistent level of funding that's equal across all groups. No one group or member is subsidizing any other group or member.

There are interim levels of Toastmasters' organizational structure, some of which are funded down from TI (Districts are funded down, and Divisions from the District) and others which may be funded up from the clubs or through independent fundraising or funded down (Areas, made up of a handful of clubs, have no set budget allocation and often fund their events through admissions fees, for example).
posted by jacquilynne at 3:03 PM on May 27, 2007

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