As a long time “owner” of multiple cats people have thrown out (to their great loss), I thank you for your service to felines everywhere.Thank you, and thank you for rescuing multiple cats.
That said I respectfully point out that by paying annually for a Premium group with your own funds is, quite literally, funding the lurkers who comprise the great majority of your present member.I don't mind that at present. They may well be lurking and learning, that is fine by me.
Your group presently enjoys the prestige of numbers these many lurkers “bring to the party”, even though the great majority of them would quickly disappear were you to ever impose a “subscription fee”.I know many view large memberships as prestigious, but I don't personally. However, at present it doesn't cost me anything to have many lurking members (many of whom, as you say, would leave if they had to pay to remain a member), so they are welcome to lurk. If i were facing a personal cost of US$4000 a year, with no guarantee of much support from members, as you yourself have experienced, I would have to have a ruthless clearout; and how do you decide who should stay?
It is fortunate that the value of your services rendered is both immediately apparent and tangible.Thank you. I like to think that people would therefore be prepared to pay a small amount per year to be a member. One possible downside with this would be that once people pay for something, they want more for their money. I can envisage people complaining if their posts are not answered promptly (however they personally define that), even though the people who try to help them are just regular folk who do not get paid, they do it because of their love of cats.
I still favour the member paying and not the group.
The longer we are grandathered, the better!