5 Steps to Build a Strategy for Growing Non-dues Revenue

Revenue growth is never simple. That truth only magnifies once you begin to take any type of revenue into account that goes beyond basic responsibilities.

Yes, your association’s members pay regular dues. But we already know that on average, these dues contribute less than 50 percent to your budgetary needs. To make up the rest, you need to find a way to convince your members that paying more to your association is actually beneficial to them.

That’s not a simple undertaking. Fortunately, it’s absolutely possible. You just have to approach it as you would any other strategic initiative: with careful thought, planning, and evaluation. Take these 5 steps to build your strategy for growing non-dues revenue and ultimately driving your association forward. 

1) Understand Your Membership Needs

Your success or failure in growing revenue of any kind hinges with your audience. That’s just as true for associations, who have to make sure they understand their members’ needs. Only then can you build a strategy that seeks to satisfy these needs, in exchange for the revenue you need to sustain and grow your association.

Take surveys among your members. Ask them about their thoughts for potential initiatives at regular events and annual meetings. Determine their general demographics, and conduct secondary research about those groups through credible sources. Then, draw conclusions from their typical preferences, desires, and pain points.

Not all of the information you will find will be relevant to this specific effort. Some of it will be–and it’s always a good idea to know as much as you can about your members. The more you can understand your membership needs, the more effective your ultimate strategy to satisfy these needs in exchange for revenue.

2) Set Your Revenue Goals

Next, we get to one of the core parts of any strategy building: setting the right goals. For your association, that means truly understanding what your budget requirements are, both in the immediate and long-term future. Short and long-term projections of membership dues and other budgetary needs are absolutely essential.

Based on these projections, you can set your revenue goals. Then, separate the anticipated dues over the time period to be analyzed, and the difference becomes your non-dues revenue goal. Maintaining visions for both immediate needs and a longer, five to ten-year window can help you build a strategy that ultimately satisfies your shortfalls and best-case scenarios.

3) Build Your Tactical Options

Both of the first two steps, membership needs and revenue goals, should determine the tactical portion of your strategy. Now is the time to determine exactly how you will raise the non-dues funds needed based on what your audience is actually looking for.

In most cases, this step is all about keeping a balance. Especially younger professionals, for instance, place a high importance on professional development, and like to travel in order to meet that need. The easy answer to leverage that fact into revenue is holding a large, expensive conference with thought leaders from your entire industry or field of focus. 

However, your revenue needs may only be minor, with most budget goals satisfied through dues alone. In that case, alternate means of development, such as smaller webinars or regional meetings, may become more effective in supplementing your budget without stretching it.

Of course, professional development is far from your only tactical opportunity to grow non-dues revenue. Job boards, sponsorships, and gated content are just a few of the other options you have here. The key is choosing what direction you want to move not based on personal preference, but both your revenue and member needs instead.

4) Get the Right Software in Place

With a clear understanding of your tactics established, it’s time to think further about the execution of these tactics. Revenue generation, naturally, requires a way to collect payment from your members, sponsors, or any other stakeholders. In fact, much of what was discussed above requires the right processes in place.

These processes, in turn, require software that allows you to streamline both individual tactics and any other steps in building the strategy. Association Management Software (AMS) can point the way.

Through the right platform, you can analyze your audience, send surveys to gain further insights, take a closer look at your revenue, and organize your events. You can even build a payment mechanism during event sign-ups should you decide to pursue that route.

5) Adjust Your Strategy as Needed

The tactics and their execution will typically have a high chance of success as long as you follow a strategic process. That doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed to succeed. Only regular evaluations and adjustments can help you make sure that you continue to build an effective way to grow your non-dues revenues and your association with them.

Again, research can be immensely valuable. Regularly survey your members, using the right AMS, to understand how they feel about the sponsorships you offer. Gauge their satisfaction at professional development events, both about the setup and the topics. The more you learn about your efforts, the better.

Then, you can make adjustments as needed. Usually, that does not mean changing your entire strategy. After all, your membership needs or revenue goals are not likely to change frequently. Incremental adjustments, however, can be immensely effective in making sure your strategy remains successful and brings in the revenue you need to sustain your operations.

Is Your Association Prepared for Growing Non-Dues Revenue?

Without the right strategy, any effort to grow your association revenue will be difficult to achieve. New initiatives are shots in the dark, and even if they succeed, you don’t know how to replicate them. That’s why taking the above steps is so vital to making sure that you can achieve a reliable outcome.

At the same time, strategy is not and should be your only consideration. Without the right software, even the best plan will not be as effective as it could be. Visit our website to learn more about Engagifii, and how we can help you grow your non-dues revenue in a strategic and effective manner.

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