Thank you for your comments, and your question, @Evenstar! I have a few responses to this question, so I hope you’ll bear with me.
Every organization (certainly all spiritual ones, including all druid orders, and nearly all other organizations) requires financial support which to do our work. We offer lifetime membership in AODA for $50 (which has not, I’ll note, risen at all in the 14 or so years in which that was set). This helps us do everything from pay for this forum (which requires a monthly fee) and our website to offer our journal, Trilithon, to do mailings of our newsletter, to purchase office supplies and equipment to maintain our archives, and much more. For the record, those of us in the Grand Grove do not get paid or gain any other kind of tangible benefits from your contributions to AODA, as we are an all volunteer organization. But those contributions does give the AODA some operating capital in order to make this a successful organization. We had a centennial celebration in 2012, and member fees helped pay for that. We are planning another gathering in another year or two, and our operating capital will come out of that. In a nutshell, then, our member fees help this organization stay afloat and financially viable.
Some druid organizations ask for a yearly contribution, others charge by the course, and still others use our model. Each of them, you’ll find, have certain benefits for membership. One of the things our new Grand Grove has been doing is trying to increase our member benefits (we are just entering our 2nd year as a new Grand Grove, so a lot of things right now are “in progress” - but this forum is one of those new benefits).
And after you’ve been a member for a while and have progressed through your studies, we ask that you contribute financially again to complete your degrees and continue your studies. Remember that as a member of a druid organization, its not just about what the organization does for you but also what contributions you make to this organization for the benefit of all members. This organization exists because of its members (and folks like me are simply people who have been around long enough to work our whole way through the curriculum and help guide the organization now). I, and the rest of the Grand Grove, are listening closely to hear what your needs are and are doing everything we can to make this the best organization it can be in support of our members.
I hope this answers your question.