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Success Story: Calibrated Dues Model

Success Story: Calibrated Membership Dues Model

The Wilson Chamber of Commerce devised a precise but user-friendly way to fairly apportion the dues burden across its membership while providing greater access to member benefits and greater certainty in forecasting dues income.

When implemented, the Calibrated Dues Model (CDM) will make two significant impacts on the chamber:

1. CDM will provide a fair, transparent, and sustainable way to apportion dues to members of all sizes and types. It is expected that by assigning dues according to responses to CDM queries, benefits will be made available “wealth-blind,” and members will no longer be restricted from receiving benefits simply because the membership threshold is unaffordable. Likewise, this improved accessibility is expected to strengthen recruitment and stabilize retention efforts.

2. CDM has valuable non-dues revenue potential. The chamber intends to legally protect and subsequently license CDM functionality to other membership organizations for a nominal fee. In addition to the benefit CDM provides to chambers of commerce, other membership organizations (including civic clubs, country clubs, private schools, etc.), may find utility in applying CDM to their own needs.


The CDM will be the next generation solution for chambers of commerce (and similar membership organizations) who seek to more fairly assign dues to their members. The major functional components of CDM are as follows:

  • A web-based portal for current and prospective chamber members, which guides them through a series of questions to determine what dues are required to join.
  • Each answer will be assigned a cash value. (Ex. “How many retail locations do you have in Wilson County?” Each location may have a cash equivalent value of $50. Therefore if the member’s response to this question is “4,” CDM will calibrate dues up by $200.)
  • Optional discounts can be built into the queries. (Ex. “Are you located in a historic district?”  If the response is “Yes,” CDM may calibrate dues down by an assigned percent or dollar value.)
  • As members progress through the queries, they will observe a real-time calculation of their expected dues at any given point during the progression.
  • At the end of the progression, applicants will be invited to pay the calculated dues investment via credit card and join the chamber immediately.
  • A “back end” utility is only accessible by chamber staff and will calibrate queries, available answer values, and corresponding cash values.

A prototype of CDM is currently in development.

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