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I hate the idea of different levels of membership. Creates a hierarchy... the haves at the top, the have nots at the bottom. People should just donate what they can afford to donate.
I absolutely agree. I am however unable to help in any way, since I live in Romania, and no online payments from Romania are processed internationally (too many scams, I guess); I am sorry, really....Romania may not be wealthy, but 25$ a year would not be a problem...
I agree - the current position that Richard and his family are in is shameful and reflects shockingly on this community. I am by no means wealthy (read that as pretty well completely broke) but I would be happy to chip in US$25 a year for membership.

I suggest that new members be given 3 months free membership so they can get to know the site and assess whether it is worth it for them to pay to continue. I also suggest that a welcome committee be appointed to work with new members, show them what groups might suit their interests and start them off with some friends.

The good thing would be that theists are unlikely to pay $25 a year to an atheist to lurk on the site, and nor would spammers.

Richard, please don't let this be one of those things that gets put on the back-burner (I know you too well!) This absolutely has to be done for the future of the site. If you don't start getting paid soon, you will not be able to continue, and I don't know of anyone else who'd be willing to take it on unpaid, so we'd be stuffed.

Mojoe, how much do we need to raise to get the site off Ning? If that's the first step, let's set a target and let us use our networks and raise the damn money.
The good thing would be that theists are unlikely to pay $25 a year to an atheist to lurk on the site, and nor would spammers. = excellent point!
I'm on another website which introduced a Premium membership of $25 a year. Many, many, many members buy memberships for those who cannot afford it. It is a regular occurrence.

If there was a 'getting to know you' period and it became apparent that someone who really needed the site was not in a position to purchase a membership, I am confident that someone would buy it for them. This could be aided by offers of, 'Buy two years' membership and get one membership free'. That way people could pay up 2 years in advance and have one up their sleeve to give away to someone who needs it. What better way to build a community spirit?

Besides, if we have 'mentors' for new members, I'm sure if someone like this was identified, the mentor could make a special pleading to Richard (or the board) for an exemption.
During certain periods of my life, I have had to plead and beg and grovel. I really hate this idea. I'm in a position where I can donate to the site, but I really REALLY don't want to see people who might not be able to afford to donate have to go through some bulllshit bureaucracy so they can be members. There will be people who won't even bother trying.
I really didn't see it as bureaucratic red tape. I simply saw it as, "Hey BR, we've got a 14 year old kid on here, we've been talking to him, he's legit, and not out to his parents yet - can you invoke the free membership thing, please."

I can't imagine BR would need anyone to grovel or fill things out in triplicate.
Though it could get interesting, this is not what I had in mind.

What we have talked about in the past is similar to what the other groups do now. Membership will always be free. Nothing that is available now would change for anyone. However, there could be special acknowledgement and benefits for others (we are talking about a small amount). Don't worry about it too much. We don't need to debate about it here.
Richard said: Don't worry about it too much. We don't need to debate about it here.

Richard we do, because you are overstretched physically, mentally and financially.

This isn't for your benefit - it's for the benefit of the site and its members.

It's a bit like servicing the engine of your car - you don't do it because you feel sorry for the engine, you do it because if you don't the engine will fail to work and the car won't go. You are the engine of this site, and we need you properly cared for. It is self-interest that should be driving this for the members. No Brother Richard - no Atheist Nexus.
@Nerd,
Absolutely. and I love Kristy's response as well.
@Kristy-
"members be given 3 months free membership so they can get to know the site and assess whether it is worth it for them to pay to continue.
I also suggest that a welcome committee be appointed to work with new members, show them what groups might suit their interests and start them off with some friends."

These are excellent ideas. In an informal way, a number of people welcome new members and point them toward groups. A more organized approach might indeed be a way to keep new members fired up with enthusiasm.

In addition, as Sydni points out, the largest part of A|N, probably by a huge, huge majority, is quiescent (although the # of hits to the site is mind-boggling, as BR. Richard points out). So, should there be a way to get quiescent members re-fired up with enthusiasm? Again, maybe someone to point quiescent members toward groups, which are more accessible and personal. Or develop interest groups or local startups like AIR in Atlanta?

(Now I have to take my shower and head off to work. Have a great day all! I'll be checking on A|N later).
1)promote membership by listing the members who have donated. Add a link to the list of names and donation levels. This is common for other non-profits. Depending on the donation level you are labled such as a silver member or a gold member (no jokes please).

Once again, the "virtuous" haves get to buy their way to the top of the donation list. In my world, it's the widow's mite that is truly priceless.

2) and 3) Maybe this is a cultural thing. My feeling is you do what you can do, and just go about it quietly. Needing gold stars or names on some special list seems tied in with that whole "the rich are made virtuous by gawd" thing.

4) This has already been discussed. One of the big limiting factors has been money.

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