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ACS Comment: Welcome to the future of membership

by Laura Sremaniak, Chair, ACS Committee on Membership Affairs
June 11, 2022 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 100, Issue 21

 

Laura Sremaniak.
Credit: Courtesy of NC State University
Laura Sremaniak.

I hope you have been following along over the last 4 years as the American Chemical Society Committee on Membership Affairs (MAC), governance colleagues, and staff have modernized the ACS membership model. As many of you will have experienced firsthand by now, and others will shortly as they come up for the 2022 membership renewal, this extensive transformation of the membership experience was fully realized on January 1, 2022.

This transformation positions ACS to bring together chemists and allied professionals to cultivate a stronger and more engaged community that will be exemplary among scientific organizations in its vibrancy, scale, and diversity.

A big thank you is due to you, ACS members, for your passion over these last few years. Your refreshing comments, guidance, and gratitude kept us focused on why we were transforming ACS membership.

I have received a few questions around the exact details of the transformation, and I wanted to use this forum to remind everyone of what we accomplished.

The 2022 membership changes fall into four general themes: more choice, better value, greater inclusivity, and expanded coverage.


ACS membership packages
Different membership options are now available to suit different needs.
A table showing different ACs membership options.
Source: ACS membership.

More choice: For the first time, membership is no longer one size fits all. Those who qualify as regular members (that is, individuals in the workforce) now have a choice of two membership packages: Premium and Standard.

The complete suite of ACS benefits remains the same in the Premium Package of membership. This is analogous to the package members have previously received, and anyone that wants to preserve all their current access privileges should choose this option.

The new Standard Package is the second option that is priced at half the base rate of dues and includes an extensive, but reduced, set of benefits. It does not include meeting discounts, ACS Publications benefits, CAS SciFinder benefits, and access to ACS webinars. Our research has highlighted that this option is particularly attractive for those members outside the United States and/or members employed by industrial organizations that have access to the technical journals already and do not attend ACS events.

Better value: In 2022, the cost of an ACS membership went down! ACS approved a decrease in the base dues rate from $175 in 2021 to $160 in 2022. The cost of student memberships also decreased. This attention to value shows the strong commitment that the organization has to ensuring an accessible and diverse ACS membership.

At the same time, several pilot programs are underway to test new benefits that can be offered to members in the future—such as new virtual ways to network or partnerships with external training and development organizations.

Greater inclusivity: We have launched a new category, community associates. Those individuals receive the Basic Package with a limited set of benefits to experience the ACS community with no financial commitment. This has allowed us to expand our reach to tens of thousands and potentially millions of additional individuals engaged in the chemical sciences, engineering, and allied professions who otherwise would not have been able to or who did not need the full breadth of membership benefits.

The new membership system has also made it easy for these associates to become more involved in ACS by upgrading from their Basic Package to a paid Premium or Standard Package at any time. Upgrades are a great way to deepen relationships when the time is right, and they provide a convenient and self-service route to join or rejoin and gain access to everything that ACS offers.

Expanded coverage: ACS provides its members with a range of discounts, waivers, and multiyear membership dues. Previously, pricing variations were only available to a single membership category such as regular members. However, in 2022, the rules on discount eligibility were expanded so that more members can gain access. For example, renewing and joining retired, undergraduate student, and graduate student members can now purchase a multiyear membership. Access to a national service dues discount is now available to students as well.

These changes and many more are available to review in ACS’s governing documents. The table shown here is also a handy guide to the eligibility and pricing for how this new choice and pricing functions. The set of benefits available in each package can be reviewed at www.acs.org/membership.

On a closing note, I wanted to again share with the membership that for 2023 the price, benefits, and conditions of membership will remain unchanged from 2022. In addition to the market research study we conducted prior to the adoption of this membership model, we recognized that the pandemic, global turmoil, and general uncertainty in many facets of our members’ lives were strong reasons to keep the cost and benefits of membership the same. As always, your comments are welcome and can be sent to mac@acs.org.

Views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of C&EN or ACS.

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