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Q: What to charge members to swim in a Masters program?

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Q: How much should I charge my members to swim in my Masters program?

A: Most USMS programs are self-sustaining or generate a profit. To be self-sustaining, or to break even, monthly program dues or fees should be calculated by subtracting the program's monthly expenses from the monthly revenue generated from hosting events, fundraising, grants, sponsorships, and dues paid by the swimmers.

Monthly dues must be competitive with the local Masters market, the availability of pool lane space, and be considerate of regional economic factors such as wages, employment, and cost-of-living figures. You don't want to have excessive fees, nor do you want your fees to be insufficient and not generate the revenue needed to pay your bills.

Adopt a philosophy that "everyone swims who wants to swim" regardless of their ability to pay. You can do this by offering incentives and alternate fee schedules for different groups. For example, consider offering discounts to young adults aged 18 to 24. Encouraging these adults to swim and reducing the barrier of cost will pay dividends over the long run. Remember, these adults may swim with you for a lifetime and will appreciate your generosity.

Another group that may benefit from a reduced rate is senior citizens living on a fixed income. They will appreciate the accommodation. You can also consider offering family discounts to encourage all adult members in the family to swim together.

One group that seems especially deserving of a discounted rate is veterans. You can thank the women and men who have served our country in the armed forces with a veteran's discount.

You may also want to provide discounted dues for coaches, assistant coaches, support team members, and key volunteers. Discounting fees for these key individuals can create value for your program and the members your program serves.

Lastly, create a scholarship fund from fundraising efforts or excess program revenue to enable those who can't pay a monthly fee a place to swim for free. In exchange for this benefit, scholarship recipients may serve as volunteers at local events to promote your program as a community sponsor and supporter.
Whatever your program decides to charge, make sure your members are getting a quality product. Very few members will complain about a fee for a product or service that exceeds their expectations.

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