Picking up on a thought from Part 3: Why don’t museums offer the option of paying for membership in quarterly or monthly installments?
This would make memberships affordable to a much wider slice of the museum-going public. It’s much easier, financially and psychologically, to come up with $10 or $12 a month than $100 or $120 in a lump sum.
Payment could occur during the course of the visit. Instead of shelling out an admission fee, members could simply top up their accounts at the membership desk on their way in. Members who didn’t top up within a certain period of time would simply have their membership cards deactivated.
Installment memberships would help promote philanthropy, because a much larger pool of satisfied members could be cultivated as donors.
And, it would send the important message that members of all ages, incomes, and types were welcome. Talk about psychological and emotional comfort. Of course, a significant segment of current membership would be made more uncomfortable. But I’m sure new levels of exclusivity would be invented in response. Elitism knows no bounds.
Potentially, installment plans could vastly increase museum membership. Downsides would be that administrative costs would rise, membership services departments would have more work to do, and members-only events would be much more heavily attended. On the other hand, there would be more membership fees available to support expanded services.
Membership on the installment plan could help to democratize museums while increasing their annual incomes and expanding their donor bases. What’s not to like?