A member is anyone who has supported the Strong Towns movement with a financial contribution during the preceding 12 months. Membership contributions pay for the ongoing operation of the Strong Towns organization. In 2022, contributions from members constituted nearly 40% of the organization’s budget.
What exactly is a Strong Towns membership?
This is a question I hear all the time from our audience. We use some variation of the phrase “Strong Towns members” so often that the meaning has become blurred. Simply put, membership is the way our 501(c)(3) non-profit organization accepts your tax-deductible donation. Your Strong Towns membership means that you have made a financial contribution in the past twelve months.
There are two parts to knowing what a Strong Towns membership is all about: (1) the technical part and (2) what it means to REALLY be a member. Let’s go over these and what they entail, so that you have a better understanding of Strong Towns membership.
Membership, In Technical Terms
A Strong Towns membership starts as soon as you make a contribution of any amount. There is no minimum or maximum amount because we want to ensure that everyone has the ability to join. We just ask that you join at whatever amount is financially comfortable for you.
Memberships are considered active for 12 months after your last contribution date. This means that if you make a contribution on June 10, 2021, your membership is active through June 2022, but will expire on July 1, 2022. If you decide to make an additional contribution a few months later in August 2021, your membership is extended through August 2022.
There are a few different ways you can make a contribution and become a member. You can send cash or a check by mail (see the address here), or you can use our online form. When you use the online form, you also have the option of choosing a one-time or a monthly contribution. The one-time contribution is just that: one time. Your membership will begin and, if you don’t make sure to renew, it will expire after those twelve months.
When you start a monthly membership, you will be charged the same amount every month and this will continue until you cancel. You will be sent a receipt each time the payment is processed and it will include a link where you can edit that payment plan at any time. This method of payment is one of the best ways to support Strong Towns, both for us and for you. Setting up a recurring membership essentially resets your twelve month membership every month so you will never have to worry about renewing. It also gives Strong Towns a solid financial base that we know we can rely on.
“BUT WHAT IF MY MEMBERSHIP ACCIDENTALLY EXPIRES?!”
Don’t worry. If your membership has expired and you don’t want it to, all you have to do is go ahead and make another contribution of any amount. This will reactivate your membership and you will have access to all the exclusive benefits that come with membership. When you become a member or renew your membership, you’ll unlock opportunities to virtually meet with other Strong Towns members and staff, insider alerts, sneak peeks to new content, and discounts for our online courses. Check out the full list of those benefits here.
What It Really Means to be a Member
Now, all of that above was very technical information about membership. These are questions we receive a lot and wanted to clear up. But membership is so much more than just making a donation. Membership is one of the best ways for us to measure the strength of this movement, which we can then share with town and city leaders, local and state governments, even as high up as the White House. This is a bottom-up movement, but challenging the status quo can be much easier when you can get what would otherwise be top-down obstacles on your side.
Becoming a member also means joining a community of like-minded individuals who understand the importance of resilience over efficiency, incremental steps over huge projects with the potential for huge failure, and the ability of everyone to live a good life in a prosperous place. When you become a member, you unlock the collective experiences of thousands of other members who are fighting the same battles. You gain a network of smart, engaged people who can come together to offer insight, encouragement, guidance, and more.
Finally, when you become a member, your financial support allows us to give local advocates the tools they need to start building their own Strong Towns. We spend our time writing articles, hosting webcasts, answering questions, and much more. But that isn’t where the hard work is in this movement. The people walking the streets figuring out what their neighbors need right now are doing the hard work. The people demanding renovating a dilapidated downtown building and sparking the revival of that entire street are doing the hard work. These are just two examples of the countless ways members are making Strong Towns a reality in their places.
I know there are thousands of those people throughout the country fighting to make their places stronger. But we need to turn that into hundreds of thousands, then a million, and then more. We can only do that with your support.
Adapted from an original article "What Does it Mean to be a Member of Strong Towns?" by Alexa Mendiata