The Power of Tiers – Maximizing Growth and Member Engagement

The following post is based on a recent webinar moderated by Cathi Hight, Hight Performance Group, on tiered dues models. 

Are you thinking about moving to tiers?


Many chambers have made the switch from FTE’s to tiered dues to determine what members pay each year.  Moving to tiers sets a clear choice for your members, not a case of back and forth under an old FTE model.


It was stated that about 60% of chambers are on the tiered dues model.  Tiers allows you set different benefits at each level.  Think ribbon cuttings being attached to a higher tier than you entry level tier.  It also allows your members to pay one dues point for the year instead of you going back for advertising or sponsorship money, etc.


A common theme from all 5 executives is that there was a set of core benefits that every member got at the entry level dues point/tier.  Then within each tier they had a list of additional benefits they would receive, in addition to the core benefit.


They mentioned it is important to communicate with your members of the new tiered dues model in advance and that it can take up to 18 months or two years to make the full transition.  All had very positive outcomes in making the move to a tiered dues system.


It was also mentioned to involve your members in a task force, prior to transitioning to a tiered dues system, to decide what should be in each level at your chamber.  And have a board member as a champion in supporting this transition.


The following are my bulleted notes from the 5 executives telling their story/journey/model.


Missy Evans – Hartselle Area Chamber of Commerce (AL)


  • No dues increase in 20 years
  • They needed to answer the question “So what do I get with my membership?”
  • Tiers allowed us to give our members the choice to join at the level that is right for them.
  • They created three tiers focused on prosperity, everyone got the core benefits – and then could choose between three tiers; Business Growth (different add on bundles) and Community Growth (different add on bundles), Trackman Investor (full access).
  • Moving to tiers allowed us to partner with members in their desired outcomes.


Dawn Mushill – Troy/Maryville/St. Jacob/Marine Chamber of Commerce (IL)


  • We used to offer 70 membership benefits
  • Our members had different needs
  • We created a menu of services of the different benefits that the member could sign-up for, the entry level or minimum dues amount was $300.
  • They then created 7 additional tiered dues levels ranging from $600 - $15K


Rich Millard – Royal Gorge Chamber Alliance (CO)


  • We did a rebrand and went to tiered dues at the same time
  • We moved to tiers to give our members increased value and allowing them to choose which tier works best for them
  • They created 6 tiers under the tag line of investor benefits – designed by our members for members (they asked what their members wanted before they officially moved to tiers – as mentioned above)


Margie Donnell – Lancaster/Fairfield Chamber of Commerce (OH)


  • We moved to tiers because the old model was too confusing for members and staff to negotiate (i.e., we had company types, FTE’s, banks paid based on deposits, etc.)
  • They created a think tank to get feedback on what members wanted.  They used that data to create their tiers
  • They created 6 tiers with a check list of what members would receive at each tier
  • The tiers made it very easy for them to sell memberships


Barbara Riviera-Holmes – Albany Area Chamber of Commerce


  • They went from a membership model based on business sectors to tiers
  • This allowed their businesses to choose what tier worked best for them on where they are in their company growth
  • Again, this chamber created the tiers designed by members for members tagline
  • Tiered dues allows members to customize their partnership with the chamber – they have the power to choose what works best for them
  • They have 6 tiers with different benefits for each level


From my perspective, you need to decide what model works best for you and the number of tiers you want to create.  What is very important is that you have a major hook at each tier so you/they can justify going to the next level.


Another interesting fact when moving to tiers, a number of your members will want to be at the top tier.  Use that to your advantage.  Are you recognizing your members at that top level of membership?  People like to be recognized and this is a passive way to market that top tier to members.


For more information on Cathi Hight, Hight Performance Group, on her work with tiered dues models go HERE.