I, too, think it is a great idea. I think it would be very cool to pay for a 2-year, 5-year or lifetime membership. The annual renewal comes SO fast that I tend to miss an issue of the trails. My most recent renewal might not go so smoothly as I left out a required part of the form because the mailing label was thrown out before I knew I needed the number from it.
2-5 year would be great! Especially since my wife has no idea if we received the renewal form or not therefore I have no idea what my status is. An extended membership would be great! The life idea could end up costing the tlca money if the costs increase and the memberships are stuck at the old cost. And as we all know, that thing we call inflation is allways knocking at our door. 2-5 year would be safer for all and make the most sence economically.
Let me play devil's advocate just to give you something to think about as you work on this proposal.
I was staff with a similar non-profit member-owned association about 20 years ago and worked there about 10 or 15 years. We had about 10,000 members with revenues from several different services we provided to the membership and to non-members.
Way before my time the Association had "life-time" memberships for a fixed fee. At that time, the Association didn't print a monthly magazine. These special memberships were approved before the association started charging annual dues and the "life-time" membership provided a few perks but it was mostly a status symbol.
Anyway, as time went on, the business model of the association changed many times, yet they had these "life-time" members that wouldn't die or go away. It was never clear what the life-time membership entitled them to but over many years the organization offered a lot of different "per year" services and these guys always expected to be grand-fathered in. The monthly magazine was one example; access to health insurance was another. Annual dues was another, but of course they expected to be exempt from the annual dues. After all, they were life-time members. [So we changed the name to an annual membership assessment or something... :G] There were dozens and dozens of issues that came up all the time. Each one sucked a tremendous amount of staff time to evaluate and stalled the organization because many business ideas had to be taken for membership vote so we didn't upset the "life-time" members.
Bottom line is that you must use your crystal ball and envision what the TLCA might be doing in 10-20-30 years and what you/we plan to entitle these life-time members to. It will save someone a lot of future grief if you will lock in these things as part of the original proposal and make it clear to the life-time members that each new business idea will be evaluated and they may or may not be grandfathered. Ex: Their guarantee will be access to BBS, stickers, and TT or whatever the equivalent is in 30 years (holographic digital images beamed into their brains at midnight or something....)
Personally, I think this is a good idea for the membership and a really bad idea for the Association.