When you’re first setting up a membership program, you might focus on the most pressing or even “fun” things first. These might be things like deciding how your tiered membership structure will look, planning your first event, and inviting members to join. While writing a cancellation policy might not exactly be at the top of your to-do list, it’s an important part of running a membership organization.
Protection for the Organization
Deters Benefits Abuse: Say you collect dues on the first of the month, but someone signs up on the fifteenth. If they get immediate access to your content or benefits like discounts at local stores, they can cancel before their billing date and never be charged, even though they still access members-only services. While offering prorated billing can help with this, a reasonable cancellation policy can add an extra layer of protection.
Prevents Revenue Loss: Things happen! People lose jobs, kids get sick, cars break down, and none of those things will happen at a convenient time. While it’s perfectly reasonable to have a refund policy in place for exceptional circumstances, a cancellation policy that’s clear and easily accessible can help assuage any concerns about revenue loss, especially for smaller organizations.
Built-In Vetting Process
A cancellation policy may deter someone who is only mildly interested in your group and who may not actually participate in online discussions or events… and that’s okay! Your goal should be to add to your group with people who genuinely want to be there and who will encourage the group to thrive!
Protection for Members
This is an excellent time to remember that your cancellation policies shouldn’t be punishing your members for things that happen outside of their control (weather, car trouble, billing issues, etc.) These policies exist to protect both parties.
There are some people out there who use deceitful tactics in combination with membership management. Some organizers might create an event or resource for “later release” and then cancel everything once they’ve garnered all the entrance fees or membership dues. A comprehensive cancellation policy and refund policy will protect members from this sort of behavior. If you’re considering signing up, read the cancellation and refund policy first!
Consider Your Events
If you have in-person events, or virtual events with limited capacity, consider what this policy will look like for reservations. Maybe you’ll need just 24 hours’ notice to offer that opening to another attendee… or perhaps you’ll need seven days. It’s up to you!
So what does a “good” cancellation policy look like?
All in all, cancellation policies aim to protect both organizations and members! Having a policy that is easy to understand, easy to access, and holds both parties accountable can save both you and your members’ future headaches.
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