This article is a little longer than most, but the concepts are important to understand if you're considering optional dues rules or product add-ons. This functionality can cause major headaches down the line if it's used in unintended ways.
Understanding Optional Dues Rules & Add Ons
Fundamentally, there are two different ways to entice or pitch an optional fee, service, or donation to your membership during the signup and renewal processes. To determine which path your organization should take, ask yourself the following question:
Do I expect 80% of my members to pay for this optional item,
do I expect 20% to pay for the optional item?
The answer will determine your path forward.
20% Will Purchase
Product Add On for New Members Only
If you expect that only a fraction of your membership will purchase, donate, or contribute, then you might want to consider adding the product as an "add on" to membership. This will allow NEW members to opt into purchasing a product during the front-end member signup process.
AE Tip™: Product add-ons are a great option to solicit a donation during new member sign-up.
Products Should Not Be Automatically Added to Dues Invoices Unless Most People Buy Them
While the functionality exists in Novi to automatically include these product add-ons with your auto-renewals, I would highly recommend against it.
When Novi renews your members, we create the dues invoices for you inside of QuickBooks Online. An "optional" amount would be present on the invoice, the revenue will be booked in your general ledger, and members will be presented with an invoice that shows the "optional" amount as being due. This works well when most members pay the fee, but it can quickly turn into an accounting nightmare when most do not.
Selling Outside of the Renewal Process
Don't fret! You don't have to include an optional product on a dues invoice just to sell it. Remember, your Novi subscription comes with a full featured Ecommerce platform, connection over to MailChimp or Constant Contact, and lots of ways to put content front and center with your members. Use these tools to get creative with a campaign designed to entice your members to sign up, donate, or purchase what you're selling. Take the opportunity to explain the value you are delivering. Perhaps one day, you'll find 80% of your members signing up for it!
80% Will Purchase
Assume the Sale with an Optional Dues Rule
If you expect that the vast majority, over 80% of your membership, will opt to pay for a particular product, then read on. Novi has some innovative features that can help to collect more than you have in the past and build this optional contribution or purchase into your dues renewal system.
Many of our association partners have optional PAC contributions, scholarship fund donations, or foundation gifts that are such a core part of the organization that over 80% of their members choose to opt-in.
If your organization has an optional item that almost everyone chooses to purchase, then we suggest that you use an optional dues rule. This essentially assumes the sale. Upon initial signup or renewal, revenue is booked and members are presented with an invoice that assumes they will pay the full amount.
AE Tip™: When a member signs up on the front end, they can opt-out of an optional dues rule, but remember any auto-renewals will assume that they opted in.
During the signup process, members can choose to opt-out of this particular dues rule, and admins can quickly pull the line off of individual dues invoices. However, all dues invoices created through the auto-renewal process will include the line item.
In order to avoid paying the optional portion, a member would have to mail a check that only partially covered the invoice, or they would need to reach out to staff to have the line removed. If this opt-out is rare, then the extra admin time should be more than covered by the additional revenue. If most people ask for the item to be removed, you might want to jump back up a section in this article and consider your alternatives.
Ultimately, it is your decision how to set up your organization. Novi will do what you ask of it. Please make sure you have fully vetted your options before choosing a path.
If you'd like some help deciding which path to take, please reach out to us.
Enabling Product Add Ons for Membership
Go to the member type that you want to add this to
Select Product Add-ons
Start typing in the name of the product you want to add
Creating Optional Dues Rules for Membership
Start by going to the member type you want to add it to
Select dues rules
While creating the dues rule, toggle the "optional" option on
Save & Close
Removing Optional Items from Invoices
When dialing in your settings and formulating your best practices, we recommend that you work with your accountant.
Optional Dues Rules
If you decide to set up your optional dues item as a Dues Rule, there are two options in Association Settings for how the system will handle the accounting if an optional dues rule is "removed" from an open invoice.
Optional Product Add-ons
If you decide to set up your optional dues item as a Product Add-on, there are two ways it can be "removed" from an open invoice.
(1) Remove the line item in Novi
If the invoice is open, Novi will allow you to quickly remove an optional product add-on by clicking the "trash" icon on the line item. Should you make a mistake, a quick Recalculate (blue button) will bring them back.
(2) Credit the amount in QuickBooks
Some accountants might recommend that line items be credited instead of deleted. This process might add a level of complexity to your books and accounting process, but in their defense, it will also add a level of clarity and additional reporting.
If this is the approach your organization decides to take, we recommend that you reach out to your accountant or bookkeeping service to develop a workflow. Alternatively, reach out to our support team to book consulting time with one of our QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisors.