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Joining fee?

*Emerald*

Brownie and Rangers Leader
#1
Do you charge a joining fee, and if so how much is it, what does it cover and how much are your termly subs?

We've never charged a joining fee but I'm thinking we might have to start in order to cover the cost of the new Brownie badge book and handbook. My concern is that our subs are already reasonably high (£4 per session, payable termly at the beginning of term) and with the outlay for uniform for new Brownies it's all going to mount up and I'd hate to discourage any less well off families from joining. We do offer 2nd hand uniform at very reasonable prices and we're always happy to work out payment instalments for subs if people are struggling, but I'm still a bit concerned that an extra fee might be off-putting and some people just won't ask if they need help.

How do your units manage this?
 

Tawnyowl51

Veteran (100+ posts)
#2
The new handbook and badge books cost no more than the previous ones together. Did you supply those for your new girls?

Reading lots of the comments on this site, the actual handbook seems to offer little for the money, whereas the badge book looks like it will be the most useful.
£4 per session subs is more than some units, but presumably it is because your rent, or number of girls makes it the right amount for the circumstances.
We always suggest that grannies/aunties buy a book for them as a present for joining brownies/birthday/special occasion/Christmas etc. since many will remember when they were Brownies and the thrill of getting their book.
We have not had anyone in the past mention that the price of the books has been offputting.

Some units do charge a joining fee. It is up to you and your team, and your DC should be aware as well, of your decision
 

Quack

Veteran (100+ posts)
Staff member
GuiderPlus
Moderator
#3
We're thinking through the same process. The difference is that each girl will need their own badge book to monitor their progress ( Guides) whereas previously it wasn't so crucial from an individual point of view. Likewise whilst the handbook is nice to have initially, it's not really crucial.
 

browniebeth

Brownie Leader
Staff member
GuiderPlus
Moderator
#4
I'm looking at getting gift aid set up (better late than never) as I reckon nearly all my parents are tax payers - is this something you already do? If not, might be worth looking into?
 

caroline68

Regular (50+ posts)
#5
We call it a 'start-up admin fee' and I tell parents what they will get for it in my intro letter. It has included Ready for Rainbows, a sling bag, unit necker and woggle, promise badge and certificate and welcome to Rainbows badge.
Subs are £35 per term (rent is £16.50 per session, and we pay annual subs from it too) and the admin fee £10.
I plan to keep it at £10 and include R4R, plus the badge book, we have just changed to cotton sling bags at just under £2 each, and they will still get all the other bits and bobs mentioned but unit funds will absorb them. £10 is a helpful contribition even if it doesn't cover it all. They get the same charge when they go to Brownies and Guides in our village. We offer second hand uniform too.
 

*Emerald*

Brownie and Rangers Leader
#6
The new handbook and badge books cost no more than the previous ones together. Did you supply those for your new girls?

£4 per session subs is more than some units, but presumably it is because your rent, or number of girls makes it the right amount for the circumstances.

We always suggest that grannies/aunties buy a book for them as a present for joining brownies/birthday/special occasion/Christmas etc. since many will remember when they were Brownies and the thrill of getting their book.
We have not had anyone in the past mention that the price of the books has been offputting.

Some units do charge a joining fee. It is up to you and your team, and your DC should be aware as well, of your decision
We only supplied the Becoming a Brownie book as a unit, which was pretty affordable and easily absorbed into our running costs. Girls and parents would choose if they wanted to buy their own copies of the badge book and as the old badge details were online a lot of families chose not to. Obviously that option is not available any more and each girl is going to need their own copy. I don't think I can rely on them asking extended family members to buy their books as gifts as some will never get them.

Yes, our subs are high because our rent is also very high. For most of our families it doesn't seem to be a problem, but I'm very aware that some families struggle and I would hate to think that anyone felt "priced out" of Brownies.

I've spoken to my Div Comm about this and she's considering doing the same, I just wanted some feedback from people who have already been operating a similar system to see how it works for them in practice.
 

*Emerald*

Brownie and Rangers Leader
#7
I'm looking at getting gift aid set up (better late than never) as I reckon nearly all my parents are tax payers - is this something you already do? If not, might be worth looking into?
Yes, we do already claim Gift Aid and have always used it to buy equipment for the unit or to fund a trip of the girls' choice, but this year a lot of it will be going on buying the new resources. Definitely worth claiming, it brings in a very helpful chunk of money. Good luck getting it set up :)
 

browniebeth

Brownie Leader
Staff member
GuiderPlus
Moderator
#8
I have a unit that doesn't currently charge a joining fee but subs are a little higher (£5 a term more), and a unit who charges a £25 joining fee but termly subs are a little lower.

Both groups buy all the books etc for the girls and pay census from funds.

I can see the benefits of doing both ways, by having a joining fee it means that you don't lose anything if you give out resources in week 2 only to never see them again however many weeks down the line.

Having higher subs to absorb the cost, however, means all the parents subsidise new members, and much like you pay for Flossie who moves up in April, you haven't paid for Stella who joined in March, swings and roundabouts.

Bottom line is can you afford what you want to do with the budget you currently have? If no, then the choice is charge everyone a little more, or start charging a joining fee. Parents are generally happier when you're upfront about costs and what they get for their money. Better to commit wholeheartedly to a method and stick to it, than have to change midway through. :)
 

helenfelen

Veteran (100+ posts)
#9
I have 1 unit that has always charged a joining fee of £10 that covered the little plastic red folder bag, ready for rainbows & welcome to rainbows badge & another that didn't but supplied a necker & woggle, sling bag & welcome to rainbows with the promise badge & name tape & certificate which to be honest was becoming a struggle so have increased the cost of the welcome fee for the fist unit to £15 and introduced a £10 fee for the 2nd which now includes the badge & hand book, unit sling bag (had to source a printed bag from suppliers as gg haven't had any in stock since prior to easter but it actually works out nearly £2 cheaper) necker & woggle, welcome to rainbows badge, name tape & promise badge & cert. our brownies hasn't ever charged a fee & provided the bag with becoming a brownie & adventure book so will carry on as before i think.
 

Quack

Veteran (100+ posts)
Staff member
GuiderPlus
Moderator
#10
My thoughts were that if we raised subs to cover the cost it would be about £1 a term over the time they were in Guides assuming they lasted the full 4 years...to be honest not many last that long maybe half last the full time so we would always be out of pocket. So a joining fee means that we can keep subs at the same level and still cover costs. It may not be the full cost of the handbook and badgebook but a just start towards it.

It's right though to ensure that parents know what the expectations are
 

Trinny

Veteran (100+ posts)
#11
We charge £15 for Brownies, and have previously provided the Adventures and Badge book. Now we'll provide the 'handbook' and badge book. We have second hand uniform they can buy if they want to keep costs down. The start up costs for e.g. ballet are a lot higher - £15 for shoes, £6 for tights, £15 for a leotard, £15 for a skirt, and then higher weekly costs as well as exam fees etc. I think Brownies is very reasonable.
 

Squirrel-Nutkin

The Wicked Witch of the West (15,000+ posts)
#12
can claim gift aid on subs and also on census contributions, but can't claim gift aid on payments for uniform or payments for joining fee or payments for hols/outings.
 

Brown9

Veteran (100+ posts)
#13
I'm thinking of charging £10 joining fee we have never done this before and we did buy becoming a Brownie book. We charge £25 per term £2.50 per week and pay census out of this. If we don't buy the badge books I can't see parents getting them as they don't now. I have started claiming gift aid but the parents who have the least money are the ones that don't pay tax and I have very few who do unfortunately. However, a lot of my girls do dance, gym, swimming etc and compared to these we are really cheap!
 

Ech18

Veteran (100+ posts)
#14
For the moment I’ve just put this terms subs up by £5 as I need to buy all bar one a badge book and they have just put rent up. They have g-files I’m not convinced they are going to need a handbook. Once it has all settled down a bit I am seriously considering a joining fee but it would just be the books and they will need both then so I’m having a think.
 

*Emerald*

Brownie and Rangers Leader
#15
We charge £15 for Brownies, and have previously provided the Adventures and Badge book. Now we'll provide the 'handbook' and badge book. We have second hand uniform they can buy if they want to keep costs down. The start up costs for e.g. ballet are a lot higher - £15 for shoes, £6 for tights, £15 for a leotard, £15 for a skirt, and then higher weekly costs as well as exam fees etc. I think Brownies is very reasonable.
I agree that Brownies is very reasonable, especially compared to some activities. I do however think the Brownie uniform is very expensive when bought new, and what we can offer second hand will rarely kit out a girl completely, so I still think it can be a lot to ask for some families.

I'm also leaning towards a £10 joining fee which hopefully won't be too prohibitive. Will see what the rest of the team think at our planning meeting.
 

*Emerald*

Brownie and Rangers Leader
#16
For the moment I’ve just put this terms subs up by £5 as I need to buy all bar one a badge book and they have just put rent up. They have g-files I’m not convinced they are going to need a handbook. Once it has all settled down a bit I am seriously considering a joining fee but it would just be the books and they will need both then so I’m having a think.
I'm also considering putting subs up by £5 just for this term (not for new ones if we do charge a joining fee) to contribute towards the cost of a badge book for every girl. I think that's a reasonable ask.
 

Kochanski

Veteran (100+ posts)
#17
We could all tell you what we pay for this and charge for that but in the end it comes down to this: you have to be getting enough money in to cover your costs. The 'how' needs to suit your unit and its community and is likely to be slightly different to all the situations we're reading about here. Your choices are simple:
1. Charge a joining fee then keep subs low.
2. Subs need to be a bit higher.
3. Fundraising all the time (I'd suggest this isn't realistic, reliable or sustainable though).
Personally, I charge a promise fee and provide the books as I know families wouldn't bother to buy them.
Could your girls get through their time in the unit without a book? Is it really essential?
 

browniebeth

Brownie Leader
Staff member
GuiderPlus
Moderator
#18
Could your girls get through their time in the unit without a book? Is it really essential?
I would say the new record book is essential.
The handbook is where compromises could be made, if required. Ideally they'd have them both. I'm getting all my current lot a record book but only getting the handbook for new joiners, the others can buy it if they want it. We'll have unit copies for the crucial bits.
 

Trinny

Veteran (100+ posts)
#19
Remember that a joining fee also takes the hassle off parents - they don't have to go to the shop, remember which book it was again, did they need the handbook? So if you have time poor parents, they may be happier to pay a one off fee.
 
#20
The problem with increasing subs by say £5 a term is that the girl needs to stay for 2 - 3 terms to cover the cost of the books. If you are not confident in them doing that then a joining fee is a better option.

My unit charges a joining fee - we introduced it some years ago when we were getting a lot of girls join and not stay very long. We previously offered the G-file, unit neckerchief & woggle, drawstring bag and some extra's I found on sale in the guide shop - pens, pencils, fun badge etc. It cost more than £10 so was "good value" to the parents, but covered most of the G-file cost, so stopped us ending up being out of pocket. The bags are a good option as it seems to encourage them to actually bring the books to Guides which will become even more important going forward!

We have had a few girls who haven't paid it, and so haven't got the joining pack and therefore not had a G-file, equally we have some who take a long time to get uniform. I often find that its not money that puts parents off as much as a fear their daughters wont stick at it long!