Maximize Your Association’s Value: Earn More Non-dues Revenue Now

Every association understands the importance of membership revenue, but non-dues revenue is a little more mysterious. Basic membership revenue is often just not enough to sustain association expenses; that’s where non-dues revenue comes in! 

With the help of non-dues revenue, associations can provide members with extensive benefits, assist the industry at large, and engage in advocacy and promotional activities. To afford this, these non-dues funds usually amount to more than 50% of the total revenue of larger associations. But then, what about small and mid-size associations? How can they afford the cost, labour, and time needed to bolster their non-dues revenues programs? 

Well, in most cases, these associations already have the content and the groundwork laid to start earning non-dues revenue–all that’s left is a little creativity and effort to get the ball rolling! In this article, we’ll be exploring some of the best ways that associations can start earning additional revenue right away. Not only this–many of the below ideas can also improve the quality of membership overall, potentially leading to more members and more renewals!

Make an Event of It!

Events usually represent the largest non-dues revenue-makers for associations. Conferences, for example, often provide several revenue streams, including ticket sales, exhibitor fees, merchandise sales, and various partnerships, to name a few! For smaller associations, however, throwing a conference might not be realistic. Don’t give up, though–even smaller associations can still host and sell tickets to banquets, galas, or special dinners. If planned properly, events like these can provide the same revenue opportunities as conferences, just on a smaller scale.

Teachable Moments

Access to continuing education is one of the most desired components of an association membership for many. Because of this, many associations include training in their membership benefits–and rightly so! However, there may be other opportunities for your association to host training and workshop programs that go above and beyond the standard membership offerings that you may be missing. These opportunities include additional related certifications or accreditations that haven’t yet been included in the membership program. Some associations even offer training programs that stray outside of their industry or expertise altogether, such as hobby training or complementary skill training. 

Sponsorships and Advertising 

When considering incorporating sponsorships and advertisements into your association’s non-dues revenue program, you’ll be happy to hear that there are a great variety of options out there. The following are some of the major categories you should explore:

    • Events – Whatever type of event your association throws, you will have advertising and sponsorship opportunities available. This may include incorporating a sponsor’s banner or giving them a booth. You may even add in a promotional area near the entrance, invite a speaker to give a relevant presentation or have them run a workshop. 
    • Website – Your website has great potential for bringing in advertising and sponsorship dollars, but you want to avoid polluting the space too much. Consider a strategically placed logo or adding a sponsor page on your site. The Google AdSense advertising platform offers associations a quick and easy way to add advertisement links to their website with little additional work. Associations can also add affiliate links to generate revenue with each click.
    • Social Media – For associations with a large social media network, they can add sponsored posts into the mix. These posts are especially useful for all parties involved if the association and the sponsoring organization have overlapping interests. 
    • Sponsored Webinars – If your association posts webinars on your website for your members, you may consider adding webinars created by sponsors. In an ideal situation, these are a valuable source of non-dues revenue and are useful for members at the same time!
    • Publications – Whatever publications your association creates, they likely present an opportunity for advertisements. These can be regularly scheduled newsletters, member packages, or magazines. Similar to your website, avoid overloading the space with ads, or it could become distracting or off-putting for readers. 
    • Job Boards – Whether you currently run a job board or are thinking of creating one, these present one more option for earning non-dues revenue. While not a traditional sponsorship or ad, posting a job link for an organization can earn revenue, particularly if it leads to employment for one of your members! 

Put Your Membership Base to Work

Because they typically represent an established membership base that is usually contained to a single industry, associations can provide a unique opportunity to collect information for industry research, studies, and statistics. Outside groups may pay to have access to membership data, lists, and reports. Now, not every association and opportunity are equal here. It’s best to approach these carefully so that your members don’t get bombarded by sales calls, spam, or worse–phishing scams. When done safely and securely, however, your membership base can be an excellent resource for groups looking for inside industry information.

Help Granted 

Associations should always be on the lookout for funding opportunities from the government or national organizations. Each year, associations around the world apply to grant programs and receive development and philanthropic funds. This method is especially useful for nonprofit associations. These groups can also run fundraisers and donor drives to bring in more money. Get creative with these programs and invite members and non-members alike to raise as much as you can! If the event and the association are committed to a good cause, these efforts can often be rewarding.

While the hunt for non-dues revenue can be a complex one, there are always ways to get creative with it. Look into the methods you feel best suit your association and take a chance–you’ll never know how profitable they’ll be if you don’t try!