Why You Need a Membership Agreement and How to Create One (+Template)

Membership March 11, 2021

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If you run a membership site or a membership organization, it may be a good idea to create a membership agreement for your members. 


Are you legally required to have your members sign a membership agreement? 


No. But having some sort of contract in place will ensure that all your members are on the same page, know what to expect from your organization and are aware of the terms and conditions associated with their membership. 


It may seem unnecessary, but even having the most obvious guidelines written down in a dedicated document will help keep your membership a safe, fun and mutually beneficial community for all members to enjoy. Not to mention, it will help you deal with any uncooperative members and safeguard against any legal trouble. 


If this sounds like something you’d like to implement within your organization, read on to find out everything you need to know about membership agreements.  Plus get a free template to help you create your own!


Read More: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Membership Site Platform (+5 sites to try right now)


What is a Membership Agreement?

 

A membership agreement is essentially a contract between you (as the admin of your membership organization or site) and each of your members. 


Each member receives their own copy with their name in the document, and both parties sign the document to indicate their agreement to follow the terms and conditions outlined in the contract. 


A membership agreement can be used for any kind of membership, whether you run a membership site and your community interacts solely online, or you run an organization with members who meet in person. 


Your membership agreement can be a hard copy document signed in person, a digitally signed PDF, an electronic form submitted through your website, or even just a section of your membership application form


The agreement outlines the terms and conditions related to your members’ participation in your membership. These might include rules, guidelines, due payment schedules, minimum participation requirements and protocols for common adverse situations. 


Having members read through and understand the membership agreement will help keep them accountable and responsible for the wellbeing of the entire community, and will help your membership thrive. 

When Can a Membership Agreement Be Helpful for Your Organization?


Many membership admins don’t feel like they need to create a membership agreement because their rules are “common sense” and they expect their members to follow the basic principles of participating in a community... 


That is, until something happens and a member becomes dissatisfied with their experience,  blames the organization, other members, or even threatens to take legal action. 


To avoid situations like this, it is best to be prepared and have a membership agreement in place before it’s ever needed. 


Here are a just a few examples of when a membership agreement can prove to be beneficial:


  • A member demands more benefits or special privileges, beyond what you offer to everyone else

  • A member consistently misses the payment deadline

  • A member refuses to pay their dues but expects to keep receiving benefits

  • A member shares confidential information on social media that was meant for members only 

  • A member feels harassed by another member in the community

  • A member shares their login information with a non-member 

  • A member posts inappropriate content in your membership forum


In all of these and many other similar situations, you’ll be able to point to a specific clause in your membership agreement and follow the documented protocol. Since both parties have agreed to the consequences, you’ll be free to take the necessary action to remedy the situation. 


For example, your membership agreement may state that if someone abuses their member privileges and shares login information with a friend, their membership will be terminated and they’ll lose all access. If this ever actually happens, you’ll be able to revoke someone’s access without any protest or hurt feelings on their end. After all, they did read and sign the agreement. 


If ever the situation is escalated to a level where legal authorities are involved, the signed agreement will help resolve the situation quickly in your favor. 


How to Write a Membership Agreement

 

There are no set rules when it comes to creating your membership agreement. Every organization is different, so their agreements are highly customized to their needs. 


When coming up with your own, think about your members’ experience with your membership and what rules and guidelines you need to put into place (no matter how obvious they may seem). 


To help you get started, here are a few common elements that a typical membership agreement might include:


  • The member’s name and the name of your organization or membership site

  • The date on which the agreement comes into effect

  • A list of benefits or services that the member will receive as part of their membership

  • The cost of membership and the payment schedule

  • A list of actions on the member’s part that would be considered a breach of the agreement, as well as the consequences of those actions 

  • A statement indicating that the member will not hold your organization or other members liable for any damage, financial loss, action or inaction, etc. 

  • A statement indicating that you will not share members’ personal information

  • A statement indicating how this agreement may be terminated by either party

  • A statement indicating that by signing the agreement, both parties agree to follow the terms and conditions outlined within it

  • A place for both parties to sign and fill in the date on which the agreement was signed


The Perfect Membership Agreement Template For Any Organization

 

If you need help putting together your membership agreement, we’ve prepared a template that you can use to get started. Feel free to remove any of the clauses or add any additional ones as you see fit. 


Click here to download the membership agreement template now. 

Membership Agreement Template

Good luck creating your membership agreement! 



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