MA membership fees are changing

27 November 2023

A new funding model 

A new way of paying membership fees to MA will be in place for 2024 with invoices generated in December 2023, based on information you provide us.

  • Increase staff benefits and make the most of volume discounts
  • You tell us how much to invoice you for membership fees – it's your choice
  • Your fees fund the work of your membership organisation that works for the entire sector. Read our Impact Report to see the value MA provides to all museums and galleries

Fees for institutional members are currently charged based on operational expenditure (opex) with a fee charged within a band. These fees haven’t changed in four years, however, most institutions’ opex has increased, pushing them into a higher fee band for 2024. 

We recognise two things: institutions will be put in a difficult position if they are expected to pay that higher fee band, and basing fees on opex doesn’t reflect the value an institution receives from Museums Aotearoa, it only reflects its size.

We think there’s a better way that directly connects MA to the people that work in our sector and the support they get from their professional membership organisation.

From January 2024, we will tie membership fees (for institutional members) to the number of people working in your organisation.

The details:

  • The price per person in your institution is $230
  • The number of people (or FTEs) you pay for equal the number of logins to Mīharo your staff can use.
  • You can choose to buy more at a per person cost – gifts for volunteers or interns, as an example.
  • You can choose to buy fewer to reflect your circumstances, for example if your institution is a multi-functional organisation with few museum or gallery professionals. The final number should be within reasonable parameters of your relevant FTEs, but ultimately, it’s your choice.
  • We have generous discounts for volume, so the more people in your organisation you fund, the lower the effective cost per membership.
  • Individual membership fees will increase to $385+GST per annum with voting rights.
  • New member-friendly payment options (eg monthly or quarterly with a flat administration fee) and a rolling 12-month membership.

Invoicing process

Instead of us sending you an invoice based on our best-guess of your opex, you tell us how many people in your organisation you want to pay for. You should make the decision of how much you value your membership to MA, not us.

Use our online widget to calculate your fees – simply enter the number of people you want to pay for and the widget will apply the relevant discount and send us a message detailing how much to invoice you for and when. Easy.

Actions and timing:

  1. use our online calculator to work out your fee by 20 December – make use of the volume discounts! You may end up paying less overall if you pay for more FTEs
  2. make sure you hit the SEND button to send us your invoice details
  3. we will generate and send your invoice
  4. invoice payable 31 January
  5. send us a spreadsheet of names and email address of the staff you have paid for to be members

Why are we making these changes? 

We are a membership organisation fully funded by membership fees of less than $300,000 per annum (the rest is made up of revenue from job listings). Your annual fees pay for 1.8 FTE staff and our slim operating budget. The activities we do with this funding are:

  • advocacy with central and local government and relevant ministries, arguing for funding from additional sources for the sector and making submissions on decisions that impact members
  • supporting members through change
  • support with practical resources and templates
  • helping to create a cohesive and supportive sector
  • creating innovative ways for the sector to communicate with communities and tourists
  • ongoing content on Miharo, available to all members
  • sourcing professional development opportunities
  • creating opportunities for the sector to connect and discuss issues

With that in mind, here are some financial realities for Museums Aotearoa:

  • Non-paying institutions in our sector (museums and galleries) benefit from Museums Aotearoa’s advocacy work, which is effectively subsidised by fee-paying institutions.
  • The more members we have, the less we need to charge in fees.
  • Our current system has too many tiers, is unnecessarily complex and relies on MA auditing the opex of its members.
  • Our costs are $457 to serve each individual and our small number of individual members (in 2023). This clearly isn’t sustainable, although it does include our extra-ordinary costs to establish Mīharo and running campaigns.
  • Our $750,000 from Manatū Taonga funds specific projects that finish in June 2024. This funding establishes Mīharo with enough content for it to be self-sustaining
  • Manatū Taonga is not a source of operational funding for MA or institutions
  • A strong membership base will make Museums Aotearoa attractive to sponsorships, enabling us to reduce overall fees as sponsorship funding comes online.
  • Very low individual fees are not sustainable for MA and we cannot continue to have them as a charitable offering
  • We modelled three different options but believe this model is preferable because of its focus on people and opportunities to diversify revenue streams.

We know change can be difficult, but the Board of Museums Aotearoa believes that between the changes the organisation has and is continuing to make, the revamped fee structure, and pursuing additional sources of revenue to support our operations, we can deliver an improved advocacy body for members and ensure our financial sustainability. 

This is a very different approach, where we are now putting the people who make up our sector in the centre.

Your feedback

We surveyed our institutional and individual members to see what they thought about these changes.

Here’s a summary of the responses:

Institutional members supported the fee change because it: a) reduces annual fees overall and b) puts members at the heart of our structure.

“I know times are tough but it's important MA exists, and that costs money. If institutions save money by not renewing, they put themselves - and all of us - at greater risk in the long term.”

Feedback regarding the change in individual fees from $100 to $385 was a mixed bag, with some feedback saying the individual membership tier should be removed altogether. Others were concerned about the ability for young people entering the workforce to be able to access the professional support from MA. We agree with this feedback and will develop a scholarship programme to fund a number of memberships, with input from members via a working group.

Some feedback also expressed concern about smaller organisations being able to access support. We encourage them to join as institutions instead of buying individual memberships. We also refer to the important role NSTP performs in supporting these organisations, one that MA does not replicate.

Some feedback caused us to think there are many misconceptions about the price of fees, such as:

“I get very little as an individual member and my organisation cannot justify the amount ($6k+) for our size (12 FTE)…We cannot afford to have an institutional membership, but I pay for individual memberships for my team. This means you get about 400-500 depending on who wants to be a member. I'd be happy to pay around 1500 (which i think is a fairer amount for the value of membership to us) - you'd get more from us if this were the case.”

Our response: an organisation with 12 FTEs is highly unlikely to fall into the $6,000 fee band in the current structure, which indicates some urban myths exist about our fees. The new fee structure gives this Director the ability to choose how many people within the organisation to fund while becoming an institutional member and works more appropriately than a few individual memberships.

“I am an individual member with a long career in Museums in NZ. I do self employed contract work and don’t necessarily have regular employment... I value being a member of MA to keep in touch with what is going on in the sector and seeing job opportunities but the new fee seems bit steep for that.”

Our response: please register for our free fortnightly newsletter, which aims to keep everyone in touch with information in the sector and job opportunities. You don’t need to be a member to be involved.

Botanical Specimen Tawari (Ixerba brexioides) collected by Audrey Eagle. Collection of Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato Gift of Mrs A Eagle 1967