Can a New Member Structure Facilitate Organizational Growth?

Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013

The USSA is contemplating a new member fee structure, which is intended to streamline the registration process for members, establish stronger relations between USSA and its divisional associates, reduce organizational administrative burdens, provide stronger and consistent value to USSA clubs, and reduce the barrier to entry into USSA programs.

Under a new structure, the USSA would establish a single point of member registration, meaning individuals registering for a USSA membership would no longer need to register separately for a division or state membership as is the case today in a number of divisions and states particularly in alpine.

A new membership structure would offer five categories of membership:

·         USSA Competitor

·         USSA Member

·         USSA Coach

·         USSA Official

·         USSA Master

These streamlined categories would reduce the considerable confusion experienced by members during the member registration process, where categories of membership currently vary widely depending on sport, age and location in which the member lives.

While fee levels are still under consideration and being developed, the cost of a USSA Competitor membership would be re-priced to the range of $200.  While on the surface this is a substantial increase in the pricing of a competitor membership, the elimination of the requirement (where it exists) to purchase separately a division or state competitor membership means that the "effective fee" - that is the cost of the USSA membership plus the division/state membership – would be relatively stable for the majority of the USSA's Competitors.  Currently, roughly 40% of USSA members pay at least $200 to satisfy their membership requirements (and a number pay more), with the vast majority currently paying $185-190.

This adjustment to the Competitor membership will also allow the USSA to substantially discount the basic USSA Member category (replacing the USSA Non-Scored category with a membership that could be used both as a non-scored membership for participants of any age up to masters, and as a general membership category).  Currently an alpine member in this category is assessed an $80 USSA fee, and is also required to pay an additional division/state fee ranging from $10-60.  Under a new structure, it is envisioned that each division or state would be permitted to determine their own pricing for this membership, of which only approximately $35 would be collected by the USSA (as opposed to the current $80).  Associated divisions would retain the authority to create a local pricing structure that can meet their particular objectives, such as increasing revenues to invest in programming for its members, or further discounting fees from current levels to incent individuals who are not currently engaged with USSA to join the association and benefit from the support and value it can provide.

As a function of this new structure, the USSA is also considering a new Club membership model.  Club membership currently requires a small registration fee, and provides the opportunity to run sanctioned (and USSA-insured) competitions and the option to access USSA's Club Liability Insurance Program, which offers the highest-quality liability protection to a club.  Under a new model, USSA Clubs would be assessed a substantially higher registration fee, but club membership would include the highest quality liability insurance for a club.  Based on the USSA's ability to scale, the net effect would yield a substantial total savings on insurance costs for a club.  Under this club membership model, the USSA would then be in a position to further drive the basic USSA membership fee down (to roughly $20), providing the platform for all USSA club members to also become USSA members, receiving the services, support and affiliation associated with USSA membership.

With 1-2 notable exceptions which will need to be addressed creatively and collaboratively, such a revised model is a low-risk proposition for both the USSA and its associated divisions, meaning that both the platform for potential growth and the delivery of lower-cost value to members and parents may take some time to realize.  But it is certainly a model that, if managed correctly, can facilitate growth and greater value for all parties involved.  And while these changes initially provide the greatest potential benefit to the alpine membership (far and away the USSA's largest set of members) and would result in a real fee increase to most Competitor members in other sports, the longer-term potential also opens the door for greater engagement, support and value to members and clubs in those sports.

-Luke Bodensteiner, EVP Athletics


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