Membership Subscription Payment Policy

Membership Subscription Payment Policy 

MWSD-POL-8, Nov 2020 


Introduction  

Timely collection of membership fees due from all Young People who are members of Explorer Units in Mersey Weaver, is an essential activity. These fees ensure the District can run safely, successfully, and sustainably deliver quality scouting. The money is used to:

  • Contribute to the financing of Scouts nationally, ensuring key support services are provided regarding safety, safeguarding, legal matters and critically that adequate insurance is provided for all the members of Mersey Weaver Explorers Units.
  • Finance the operation of units to enable a safe, exciting, and fun programme of events that stimulate and develop the members of the five units.  
  • Contribute to the financing of scouting at a District and County level, enabling cost effective provision of shared resources and equipment to support excellent Scout programmes e.g. District and County events and facilities, digital platforms, minibuses, ASU support etc.

Financing Scouting is always a challenge, and a lot of effort is invested in fundraising, seeking grants etc. However, membership fees remain a key foundation of income in any year for Mersey Weaver and it’s Explorer Units. Even though the subscription is collected on a monthly basis to help make Scouting more accessible, many costs paid by this income are annual in nature e.g. insurance, lease payments, UK and County Membership fees.

It is therefore essential that these fees are collected on time and from all young people for as long as they are members. Failure to collect payments on time from members presents financial challenges but is also fundamentally unfair to those who pay on time and is not in line with Scouting values. It is key that Scouting is not perceived as ‘pay as you go’, and membership subscriptions are due regardless of whether young people are turning up to meetings or not. Membership subscriptions cannot be suspended if taking a break due to exams for example. 

In some Units, there may be individuals or small groups of young people who are in financial hardship and may find the membership subscription prohibitive. This is recognised by the District it is our policy that no young person should be denied access to Scouting due to financial hardship. A special hardship fund has been established to provide financial support when this is identified. Applications to this fund should be discussed as early as possible and in confidence with the Unit Leader / District Explorer Scout Commissioner.

There are some simple steps that can be taken that will enable this, this policy sets out to define these steps in Mersey Weaver


Membership Subscription Policy

  1. The National, County and District Executives will determine the financial contributions required from Units by Q4 of a given year for the following year.
  2.  In Q4 of the year, Units supported by their Executive, will assess their costs for the following year, along with their programme plans, and establish a budget for the following year. The Units will also finalise the numbers of Young People who will remain members in OSM, which will be used to support the Census. Note these numbers will be used to pay contributions to HQ and assure appropriate insurance cover is available for the young people; therefore, it is essential that these numbers are accurate.
  3. The costs from the steps 1 and 2 will determine the total income required from each young person and will set the annual membership fee for Explorers for the next year. This will be communicated by the DESC/DESA to the parents ideally by the end of the year.
  4. The collection of these fees will be implemented by the Unit leader by requesting parents/guardians set up a Direct Debit using OSM. Subscriptions commence one month from the young person’s joining date to give them a chance to see if they like Explorers before fully committing. 
  5. OSM will provide a monthly report to indicate that the fees have been collected from the young people.
  6. Should a payment be missed, an automated reminder will be sent out every 10 days. After 20 days, the DESA/Unit leader should politely remind the parent/ guardian that the fees are overdue and request that both current due and any payments in arrears are made.
  7. Subject to hardship discussions (see below), should this overdue payment remain unpaid after 30 days or a second month’s payment is missed, then in as sensitive manner as possible the young person shall be suspended from attendance at meetings/activities until the overdue payments are paid in full. 
  8. If the young person whose fees are overdue, has ceased to attend the meetings, then the Unit leader must contact the young person and their parents/guardians to determine if they intend to retain their membership. If the answer is yes, then payment of the overdue fees must be requested and must be paid before the young person returns. If the answer is no, then the young person’s membership will be ended and, as far as practical, the overdue fees should be requested to be paid.
  9. It is acknowledged that this payment may be unlikely, in which case this overdue sum will have to be written off. Note, unless in exceptional circumstances, should the young person decide to join again at a point in the future then this will only be accepted after payment of the original overdue fees.
  10. It is recognised that in some circumstance’s payments are not made due to financial hardship, whether temporarily or permanently. It is further recognised that Units may not have finances available to support such cases within their own Unit funding arrangements. To help support such circumstances the District Executive have established a Hardship Fund, money from which can be applied for by the Unit leader on behalf of the young person to help support the payment of the fees in part or in whole. 

    https://mwscouts.org/services/inclusion-fund/

    Other support could include:
    1. Deferred payment e.g. a payment holiday (maximum of 3 months)
    2. Smaller incremental payment e.g. half monthly.
    3.  A change of date on which the direct debit falls

      Before offering any of the above options, this must be discussed and agreed with the District Explorer Scout Commissioner.
  11. The initial responsibility in ensuring payment of the membership subscription rests with the Unit leader, since they are in the best position to understand the individual circumstances of the young people and to assess the likely reasons behind the non-payment. However, support is available from the DESA, DESC, DC, Treasurer and the wider Exec team as needed. This can be in the form or advice as to how to progress these sensitive discussions, through to direct involvement in discussions if initial Unit Leader discussions prove unsuccessful. 

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