Is payment a new thing for being a member of Osensei's organisation? I agree that many people find membership expensive, but that goes for all kinds of organisations, irrespective of whether they are traditionally run.
I have nothing against payment, I'm just saying that it changes the relationship and the expectations.
I respect the Pope (especially the new one), but I'm not sending him any money. If I did, or if he expected me to, I'd think that our relationship and expectations of each other would be quite different.
This bit I posted further up the thread summarizes my thoughts on why the Aikikai should be thinking about changing how they handle their relationships:
In the past much of the value was in the relationship.
Shihan X trained at Aikikai Hombu and feels a personal obligation to support them. He pays up.
Bob, who trains with Shihan X, has no particular personal relationship with Aikikai Hombu, but pays up because his teacher pays up.
Bill, who trains with Bob, has no particular personal relationship with Aikikai Hombu, his teacher Bob has no particular personal relationship with Aikikai Hombu, but pays up because his Shihan X pays up.
Bruce, who trains with Bill, has no particular personal relationship with Aikikai Hombu, his teacher Bill has no particular personal relationship with Aikikai Hombu, , Bill's teacher Bob has no particular personal relationship with Aikikai Hombu, but Bruce pays up because...why?
This is the point that we're getting to now in the history of Aikido. Most people have never been to Hombu and have no personal relationships there. They send in money and get (by mail) a piece of paper from someone who has never met them and doesn't know who they are.
The old relationships, which were the basis for the organization, are laregely gone for the average practitioner.
"Send money we're supporting world Aikido" doesn't seem (to me) to be an effective sales pitch to maintain the organization into the future (especially when there isn't really much in the way of actual support). Neither does "Send me money because my great-grandfather started this organization", or "You should send money to be in our club. What do you get? To be in the club".
They need to come up for a reason for people to want to be associated with the organization other than what is today, essentially, a mail-order certificate. There are many membership organizations worldwide that offer real benefits to their members (peer accrediting organization and professional organizations come to mind), it's not like re-inventing the wheel - but it will take a change of mindset.