Please read through the entirety of this post — including the questions section at the end — before replying. We are happy to hold a civil discussion within this thread (posts made outside this thread will be deleted). However, we will remove replies that are purely derogatory, critical without being constructive, or in general do not add anything to the conversation. We fully recognize this is a sensitive topic for some, and we have spent many months considering the pros and cons of this decision along with the needs, goals, and mission of Asmbly. This is not a decision that was made lightly, however this decision is final.
In order to sustain this organization and achieve our long-term goals and mission, Asmbly is increasing membership rates. The structure of the dues increase will be as follows:
$95/mo for General Membership
- $60/mo for each additional family member in household
$950 for General Yearly Membership
- $600 for each additional family member in household
This increase will be effective starting on your first membership renewal on or after June 1st, 2023. All members will be allowed to purchase an annual membership at the current rate ($750) if they wish to lock in their membership before the increase. The following year, your membership will renew at the increased rate ($950). There will not be any grandfathered rates. Additionally, all members who are currently on a grandfathered rate will be brought to the new rate (this is only a single-digit number of members).
The last rate increase at ATXHS/Asmbly was in 2017. At that time, our rent for the space was $7,500/month. This year, our rent will be $13,500 per month, an 80% increase. We have also added over $100k of new machines, tools and infrastructure to the space since the transition from ATXHS to Asmbly in April 2021. While a growing membership base has allowed us to continue at the current rate for some time despite our increase in operating costs and capital expenditures, the long-term goals of Asmbly necessitate increasing dues to provide the revenue needed to accomplish these goals.
Asmbly’s stated mission is to enrich Austin’s creative maker community. Our goal as an educational nonprofit organization is to reach as many people in the Austin community as possible, sharing our knowledge and love of making in order to empower others to learn and join the maker community. To facilitate that mission, we aim to provide a top-notch workspace with industrial-grade equipment. Long-term, we aspire to become an Austin institution known for empowering creatives to learn, grow, and execute on their own goals, whatever they might be. To reach that point, we will need more space and human power than we currently have.
Since the inception of ATXHS, through the merger with Asmbly, and to this day, the organization has always relied upon a massive volunteer effort both from the general membership and especially from the leadership team. While we’ve never specifically tracked volunteer hours, the number is in the thousands of hours per year range from the leadership team alone with some individuals consistently contributing 20+ hours per week. While operating primarily from a sustained volunteer effort has gotten us to where we are today, it will not be sufficient to take us where we want to be in the future. To put things in perspective, if even a fraction of the volunteer hours put in by the leadership team were paid at a reasonable market rate for the work done, Asmbly would be operating at a significant loss. While the leadership team has been happy to dedicate these hours to Asmbly on top of their day jobs because they believe in the mission, it is not sustainable long-term.
In order to take the next steps that we want to take, Asmbly will need full-time staff. Most importantly, we will need a full-time Executive Director to lead the organization and execute on our long-term plans. We view hiring an ED as a force-multiplier and long-term investment. While a significant cost to Asmbly, an ED can likely increase revenue generation enough to pay for themselves and then some down the road. However, Asmbly does not have the budget to afford hiring an ED or even a general manager at current dues rates while continuing to provide high value improvements to the space.
In addition to an ED, another large budget item on the horizon is a potential move or expansion, either of which will cause our rent to increase. If an ideal location is found that would allow us to realize our long-term goals, we need to have the resources on hand to allow us to make that move when the time comes. That means we must begin planning and saving now. Some of you may have heard rumors recently that Asmbly is planning to move when the current lease expires in a couple years. This is indeed a consideration the leadership team is evaluating, but a move of this size is incredibly expensive, well into the six-figure range. A move of this magnitude would also require a full-time staff member to plan and coordinate, an area where an ED would be vital going forward.
Even if we don’t move, we will need to expand in the next couple years. Our membership base has grown significantly over the last few years, and we expect that to continue. We are already approaching the limit of what our current space can accommodate in terms of equipment, and it won’t be too long before we are likely to hit the comfortable working capacity of the space.
We appreciate your understanding with this decision as it was not made lightly. The necessity has been brought up several times over the past few years and we’ve reached a point where it can no longer be avoided. We look forward to seeing all of you in the space for a long time to come. Asmbly is nothing without its members and the vibrant community you all help to create.