When discounting memberships, internationally

Another church administration tidbit, in a roundabout way, though really more directed to membership organizations with any sort of international outreach —

Membership organizations usually offer discounts for cause to members of certain classes of person — the young, the unemployed, students, the elderly, low earners, the retired, military service personnel, and so on — or for modifications to membership — like multiple memberships in one household, multi-year advance payment or receiving mailings electronically. We share each others’ burdens as we lift each other up. Let each give as he or she can.

So, what about persons overseas? On the one hand, overseas memberships usually cost more to administer. On the other, overseas members may benefit less from joining. And compared to average in North America and Western Europe, most people in the rest of the world have a lot less money. What’s fair then?

The TeX Users Group — TeX is a typesetting system with a particular following, mathematics and hard science academics in particular — follows the lead of the American Mathematical Society. The later has a list of countries “with modest economies” (as the TUG puts it) whose residents pay $16 a year for membership, compared with $123 to U.S. residents earning less than $80,000 a year (or $164 for those earning more) or $41 for students and unemployed members. I don’t know what benefits membership brings, but — as a non-mathematician — that seems like a fair distribution of fees to me.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

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