Why is there a membership fee?
Being a membership-based group provides the independence, stability and continuity that have allowed the IWCU to flourish for more than 20 years.
The fee allows us to host events without the host being personally liable for fronting expenses or collecting fees as we would have to do if we had a cost-recovery model. We can hire rooms, organise menus, enlist help and book speakers.
No one is paid in any way for her work for the group (and many of us volunteer many hours) and we have remained entirely free of commercial ties – in fact it is in our constitution that we must continue to do so. Sponsorship, the other model that would let us hold events as we do, would come with a loss of independence and self-reliance.
The fee also makes sure that members choose each year to stay in the group and makes participation more likely. While we’re open to all women who would like to join, we do not seek growth for its own sake. We would rather have fewer members who want to participate than a huge list of members we never see.
Also, because we are a registered society, we have an elected board and a constitution, which provides continuity and spreads the responsibility for organization. And having the Contact magazine also means that almost all events are published in it ahead of time (there are some last minute events on Facebook). And events are always open to all members. This openness prevents the clique forming that can spell the end of a group.
What is the membership fee used for?
The biggest expenditures are for the heavily subsidized and very well attended event dinners and for the annual bus trip to Christmas markets. Quarterly socials, including the pub quiz, are also subsidized to a lesser extent. The kids’ events (Easter egg hunt, Halloween and Christmas parties) receive only a small subsidy, and are mostly covered by a very small contribution per child. Most events, like Mums and Tots, Craft Evenings or Coffee Mornings, are free and receive no subsidy. It also covers our small administrative expenses, like hosting this website.
Couldn’t the fee be lower?
The fee of €45 has not been raised in at least 10 years so has been going down in real terms. It works out to €3.75 per month and easily recovered if you come to the bigger events. That said, if at any point we seem in danger of accruing too much money from the membership fees, we will look at lowering it.
What about the money that goes to charity? Where does that come from?
The money that goes to charity is collected specifically for charity through various events and sales. This is always clearly noted. No money from membership fees goes to charity.
But I’d really like to do ... with the group?
We’re always open to new ideas for activities, either as one-time events or as regular additions to the calendar. The only caveat is usually that you’ll usually be asked to coordinate it or find someone who will do it – the social coordinators coordinate all of the various events but don’t plan individual occurrences. For one-time events, we even have a small fund that any member can access for paying costs.