LRH's original membership program cost about $30 a year. It enabled one to get a discount on books and was quite popular. No large sums were allowed to donate because the whole purpose of Scientology is to get each individual up the Bridge. So if anyone is going to spend some money, it is supposed to be spent on getting oneself up both sides of the Bridge to Class VIII, OT VIII. Per the pattern of orgs and laid out in an article LRH published in The Auditor magazine, entitled "What Your Fees Buy" the money paid for auditing and training funded everything. Everything. All legal defense. All operations. All promotions. All building expenses. All staff pay. All investigations. All research. Everything. Now instead of people paying for auditing and training to achieve the valuable products of an organization, Scientologists are coerced to earn "statuses" and memberships sell for millions of dollars which is a far cry from $30.
The IAS program started in 1984. Contrary to it's fairy tale, it did not start with "representatives" traveling to Saint Hill and conceiving of a lofty purpose to protect Scientology. On the contrary, it started with the observation that lots of groups made tons of money through donation programs and with that came the realization that the Church of Scientology could potentially rake in millions notwithstanding that LRH had strictly forbid any such program from taking place. As donations grew in size, they were made non-refundable so the liability was zero, traditionally not the case with money donated for training or auditing.
The only people originally brought to Saint Hill were there for a photo op.
The basic pattern is to pull in Scientologists for a "special briefing" where they are briefed on a secretive problem or issue in some part of the world which the IAS needs an infusion of cash to handle. The Scientologist is crush sold and forks over a large sum of money. That money is banked and not a single penny is ever spent. Only interest generated by the principle is spent.