How to Set Nonmember Fees for Association Services

Coins May 16, 2016 By: Jerald A. Jacobs

When an association offers programs and services to nonmembers, how much higher may prices be set than for members? It is possible that denying access or charging exorbitant fees for nonmembers could, in certain situations, put an association at risk of antitrust violation or losing its tax-exempt status, but legal and regulatory precedent is quite vague. This column offers a sensible approach for pricing membership services when they are offered to nonmembers.

If you peruse the membership solicitation brochure of nearly any nonprofit membership association—whether trade, professional, or philanthropic—you routinely encounter an impressive list of membership services. The brochure, and its membership benefit list, is intended to point out the advantages—to "sell the sizzle"—of membership in the association. It explains why paying dues is worthwhile. ...