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How does your club handle membership renewals?

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Old 03-13-2014, 12:29 PM
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Psully
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Default How does your club handle membership renewals?

Our club membership is done strictly by mail, which seems archaic. Members have to send in a check (which is sometimes made out wrong), also fill out a form (which is sometimes filled in wrong), and they have to send in a SASE (which is sometimes missing, or not stamped).

I imagine that some clubs renew their members online, and I'd like to start this at my club. Is there a simple and efficient way of doing this? We are an AMA club, so AMA membership needs to be verified before members can become active. A paypal account seems obvious here, but I'd rather not get bogged down with people having to scan in, and email their AMA cards or something like that. In other words, I'd like to for our members to be able to apply for renewals (or new memberships) on one online form with payment, and AMA verification.
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Old 03-13-2014, 12:51 PM
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We don't require a new application each year. We have the members' AMA numbers from their application forms when they first joined our club. Each year when a member of our club renews we check on the AMA website to be sure the member has paid his AMA dues for that year.

Our members generally pay club dues in person at a meeting or at the field, but a few do send checks by mail. We pass out member cards at the meetings or at the field, almost never by mail.

You could set up a PayPal account so that members can renew online. Another club that I belong to (ham radio) does that. It works fine. PayPal gets to keep some of the money though.

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Old 03-13-2014, 06:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Psully View Post
Our club membership is done strictly by mail, which seems archaic. Members have to send in a check (which is sometimes made out wrong), also fill out a form (which is sometimes filled in wrong), and they have to send in a SASE (which is sometimes missing, or not stamped).

I imagine that some clubs renew their members online, and I'd like to start this at my club. Is there a simple and efficient way of doing this? We are an AMA club, so AMA membership needs to be verified before members can become active. A paypal account seems obvious here, but I'd rather not get bogged down with people having to scan in, and email their AMA cards or something like that. In other words, I'd like to for our members to be able to apply for renewals (or new memberships) on one online form with payment, and AMA verification.
As the Treasurer of a 150+ member club, I can say there is no one solution that fits all your members. Moving some of them into the latter half of the 20th century is near impossible, never mind the 21st. finally have gotten them to stop dropping renewals off at the LHS, which is a half hour drive for me - think about that for a minute! We discontinued mailing paper renewals a couple years ago and simply email the forms. However, I still have the 12-odd members that "don't do email" and decided to digress and simply mail them their form. 70% of our members mail their renewals with a check, 25% pay at the meetings and the balance email the form and pay via Paypal.

We require forms every year as a means of error checking, as most will never inform the club of a move or email address change and then somehow it's your fault that they didn't get notifications or emails. No joke, happens every year. You can't imagine the grumbling about filling out a form with name, address, email, AMA# and their DOB....

Our renewal process flows as such...

Renewal forms mailed/emailed @ Oct 15th +/-
Member completes form, sends in with payment (snail mail or electronic)
Club receives form, checks form against Excel spreadsheet, marks member as paid
Club checks member's AMA status, marks in Excel spreadsheet
If member is good on both, club mails member current year sticker for badge

I developed a solution to the incorrectly filled out checks and forms: send them back with a blank form and a quick note that it cannot be processed since the form is incomplete/incorrect/illegible etc I do the same thing with checks for incorrect amounts, etc. I don't call, email or contact in any way, simply drop it in the mail, please try again. Doing anything but that turns into a huge hassle for the person doing the processing because now you have another issue you need to keep tabs on.

I also would love to hear from other clubs how they handle this process, finding an easier and more efficient way would make my year!
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Old 03-14-2014, 05:01 AM
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Club 1- all done through the mail,, you send in dues, they send you a club card for that year once they confirm your AMA for that year.

Club 2- You must bring your AMA card and your payment to a monthly Club meeting to get the new year's "Sticker" for your AMA card. If you can't make meetings it's the members responsibility to mail in the payment to the treasure. Sticker will be mail back out one AMA status is confirmed.

Neither of these process are very hard to manage for the club member, defined as Archaic or not., I mean really if you can't mail in an envelope, can you really build a plane??
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Old 03-14-2014, 07:30 AM
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Neither of these process are very hard to manage for the club member, defined as Archaic or not., I mean really if you can't mail in an envelope, can you really build a plane??
Oh, you have no idea...
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Old 03-14-2014, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by scale only 4 me View Post
Club 1- all done through the mail,, you send in dues, they send you a club card for that year once they confirm your AMA for that year.

Club 2- You must bring your AMA card and your payment to a monthly Club meeting to get the new year's "Sticker" for your AMA card. If you can't make meetings it's the members responsibility to mail in the payment to the treasure. Sticker will be mail back out one AMA status is confirmed.

Neither of these process are very hard to manage for the club member, defined as Archaic or not., I mean really if you can't mail in an envelope, can you really build a plane??
LOL...I agree one hundred percent. I guess in these days of Ipads, flight stabilization systems, and whatever we have become set in our new ways. I'm not saying it's good or bad, it just IS. Mailing seems to work, so for now that's what we do. Our guy won't accept anything for membership at the meetings, nor will he pass out the membership cards at meetings. His reasoning is that he has a system where he keeps everything together at home and doesn't want to do anything outside of that perfect little world. I can't say that I blame him because it's enough work and headache as it is, and if someone's membership application gets lost in his car or something like that it's even more of a hassle.
An online system could take away a lot of the unnecessary aggravation of mistakes, and we could still have mail-ins as an option. At least that's what's on my mind.
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Old 03-14-2014, 08:19 AM
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Okay, I can see the Excel ss, but how do they get the payment to you if they apply electronically? As mentioned before, Paypal will take their cut, but I suppose we could charge a few bucks more if paying electronically. I just would not want an electronic juggling act of applications, AMA verifications, and payment receipt at the end. I have done web sites before and worked somewhat with Excel, but what I want to do here is something entirely new to me.

Last edited by Psully; 03-14-2014 at 02:05 PM. Reason: left out a word
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Old 03-14-2014, 09:59 AM
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Oh, you have no idea...
haha I guess your're right,, I almost sent in my payment twice last year
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Old 03-14-2014, 12:28 PM
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Okay, I can see the Excel ss, but how do they get the payment to you if they apply electronically? As mentioned before, Paypal will take their cut, but I suppose we could charge a few bucks more if paying electronically. I just would not an electronic juggling act of applications, AMA verifications, and payment receipt at the end. I have done web sites before and worked somewhat with Excel, but what I want to do here is something entirely new to me.
That's exactly where it is right now, a bit of a mess. In hindsight, I should have poo-poo'd the Paypal option and left it as paper & check only. I envy the foresight of your guy and wish I could impose that on our club. It's a complete f-show when you have people handing you forms and checks, nothing is stapled or in envelopes.Half don't fill the form out completely or even at all, so I have to pass out pens and pencils like we're in grade school. Then you have the guys B,P&Ming about filling the form out at all, like it's some herculean act.

We're considering an online membership system so that the majority renew online, but again, you can't get everybody to do it. The biggest downside is the system fees and the cost of processing the electronic payments. I haven't approached Paypal yet to see if there is some sort of exemption from the fees for 501c organizations, so for now we charge an extra $3 for the convenience. I have looked at a couple online membership packages and most seem more tailored to subscription services and selling people things than an simple roster.
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Old 03-14-2014, 02:05 PM
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Okay, I put in a call to AMA today, and spoke with Shawn Grubbs. Shawn informed me that the AMA is working on a new system that will work with clubs to provide some kind of club membership services. Although it is not yet ready, it will be interesting to see if it will meet our needs. He also told me that there is a service now that provides this service plus web hosting. (I won't post the web site here, but if anybody wants it, send me a PM.)
Now I know that there are at least four possibilities: 1. Keep the current system, 2. The AMA service (whatever that will be) 3. The web service that Shawn told me about. 4. Sage advice form this thread.
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