Thanks for taking the time to help out! I'll post results next month (give or take).
At this month's STC Lone Star Community meeting, the guest speaker, Dr. Hillary Hart, showed us some statistics on STC membership. One of the numbers that stuck in my mind was new memberships. Although renewals are down, it seems that new memberships are high for this early in the year. In fact, nearly half of the anticipated new members for 2010 have already joined.
This surprising fact made me wonder what is drawing the new membership--especially at a time when long-term members are not renewing memberships.
Of the many reasons renewals are low, the foremost is the price increase. The steep jump in price has forced many STC members to reconsider their priorities. However, with expense can come exclusivity.
Although on one level it seems rude and counter-productive to be more exclusive, on another level it's a fact that professionals want to distinguish themselves. What better way to be distinguished than show membership in a group that not everyone can get into?
Like a high-class watch or luxury car, each person has his or her way of displaying social and economic standing. Such economically exclusive items often are associated with professionalism. So, the technical communicator striving to display professionalism would be more attracted to an expensive membership than an affordable one.
This is the social side of supply-and-demand: when demand is high, price goes up, and prestige goes up. Elitist as this may seem, it is typical of human nature. By nature we are drawn to the high-class in-crowd and within Technical Communication this manifests as membership in STC.
Certainly, price is not the sole reason for new memberships and there are numerous variables involved with any purchase, let alone membership in an organization. However, I do believe that perceived elitism is one contributing factor.

Rumor has it that the price of belonging to the Society for Technical Communication is going up next year. This bothers me because their services have decreased recently, yet the organization is nearly broke. While I sympathize with their plight and worry about the increase, I still have to ask whether $175/year is so much to pay.
Admittedly, this price is a lot to swallow all at once and a few folks have suggested that they let us pay dues monthly, but it's not nearly as bad as some think.
As a quick reminder of the benefits, here's a little list:
- Networking
- Monthly meetings
- Special Interest Groups
- Job bank
- Retail discounts
- Summit discount
- Webinar discounts
- Continuing education
- Leadership opportunities
- Mentors
- Practice & experience
- Publications
- Insurance
- Prestige
- Recognition
- Competitions
- Awards
I'm sure I left out a few things and not all of these will be useful to all members. But the point is made, so I'll move along.
Now, what else can you get for $175?
- 2 stroke 49cc engine/motor
- hamburger
- pewter pitcher
- bread machine
- 14 issues of Baseline
- sapphire & diamond ring
- Primacy HP, Michelin's Grand Touring Summer tire
- men's sterling silver engravable dog tag necklace
- under eye lightening treatement
- Dutch Windsor office chair
Of course if you are the government, $175 will get a a handful of office supplies. But my point here is that for this amount you could be getting something far less useful or valuable.
What's more, to put this into perspective, the cost of an STC membership is $14.58 per month, $3.37 per week, or $0.48 cents a day.
Others may disagree, but I'd consider it a good investment.