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  Eric Duchinsky , CAE , March 15, 2011
Some axioms still must hold weight.
"You get what you pay for."
"No free lunch."
"If it is too good to be true, it probably is."

Hopefully, this works for them, because there is no going back without significant retooling.

It seems the real difference is no difference at all. Community member is a registered user accessing a limited amount of free content. Active member is just a paid membership with extra benefits.

So in the end, is this a new model or the same model wrapped in new paper?

Organizations with significantly higher dues support will have a more difficult time restructuring.

Lastly, the world of the internet may be all about the FREE. How much value do users have about free information? The rest of the consumers' experiences are still based on dollars.
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  David Patt , CAE , March 12, 2011
What appears to be a shrewd marketing strategy for this particular group should not be instantly embraced as representing the future for all associations.

The strategy may work here because this is an advocacy organization. It is not the primary professional affiliation for most of its members. Its primary goal is merely to bring people into the tent.

A smaller portion of the group's revenue has been derived from membership fees than is normally the case, so revenue replacement may be less critical. And dues are still assessed for those who want to vote for leaders and receive other benefits. It's not a totally free deal.

The association assumes that creating a package of free services will boost membership numbers and ultimately induce non-payers to pay for other products - meetings, seminars, governance rights, etc. I hope it works.