|Sent on:||Tuesday, January 31, 2012 9:11 PM|
I want to thank those of you who have come up to me at meetings recently trying to pay your 2012 dues. I've asked you to hold off for a few reasons, but now we’ll start collecting.
For the past 5 years we've been collecting $5 per person per year and we've collected from most people. We've not been super diligent in collecting or removing people who don’t pay, but our expenses weren't that great - $150/year for the site and the odd mass copying job, pads and pens, and other supplies for writing sessions.
But things have changed for us over the past 18 months and I think we need to increase our dues to reflect these changes. Below is my thinking:
1) Buy In. AWG has about 75 active members, yet if you look on the website it lists 275 members. I think it's our casual approach to membership requirements (and dues) that has made our group so open and inviting - which is great. We don’t want to change that, and we’ll continue to welcome all writers with all experience levels and a broad range of personal writing goals.
However, time and other resources are limited for all of us, and I think the group needs to buckle down and focus on the invested active members. Dues were always intended to give members some buy in, but at just $5, I doubt it does that. We don't want dues to be a barrier to entry, however, we do want them to be more than a pittance. We want members to say, "well, I've paid, I should participate."
2) Free Space Isn't Forever. We were very fortunate to have free meeting space courtesy of our friends at Barnes & Noble, but that party is over. The school and the Arlington PTA have been kind enough to take up our sponsorship, providing us free space at W-L. But this is only for the school year. During the summer, if we want to meet in the school, we'll have to pay. And other facilities may also charge us some nominal, or not so nominal fee. We like the set up at the school this year and are not looking to change it, however, the organizers are working on contingency, and summer plans. We’d like to find free, convenient space, but having a small operating budget where we could pay the occasional room rental fee is a good idea.
3) The Next Level. This Fall will be our sixth anniversary and as I've mentioned, I'd like for us to commemorate the anniversary in style. I'm thinking about a reception or a dinner, with speakers. I'm imagining an event that would be open to the public with a fee charged - less for AWG members. But we'll need a small operating budget in advance to get the ball rolling - planning, advertising, small honorarium, etc.
For these reasons, I’d like to raise our annual dues to $12.
Yes, that is a 240% increase in dues, and yes we are in a recession, however, our dues have remained unchanged since 2006. Also, $12 is really only 25 cents per meeting – but no, I don’t want you to give me five nickels every Wednesday.
In the past I’ve held the group’s money in a PayPal account that was linked to my personal bank account. This was sloppy, but again, for the small amount we’ve been dealing with in the past, it didn’t much matter – there were years I probably made off with $10 or $15 of the group’s money; but there were other years when I paid the majority of the website fees. As we may now get into actual money, and we may begin to have bills to pay beyond the website, I’ve severed that link, and opened a separate bank account for the group at a different bank. (Burke & Herbert).
It will take a few days for the PayPal/Amazon Payments link to be re-established with this new account, but I’ll let you all know when that is live. In the meantime I can take cash or checks made out to me or “The Arlington Writers Group.”
As in the past, we’ll give new members some leeway before asking them to pay. They can try the group on for size for a bit, but of course, we won’t schedule them for a critique of their work until they are full dues paying members.
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns and we can set aside some time at this week’s meeting to discuss this if necessary.