Non-dues revenue is becoming increasingly important for associations across the board. In an age where just under than 50% of the average budget for most industry and governmental groups, alternative sources of revenue are only gaining in importance.
That might present itself as a problem for many associations who have traditionally relied on dues to support their budget. After all, changing the entire business model without a complete membership upheaval is enough of a challenge before the board gets involved.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that drastic. Yes, growing through non-dues revenue requires an approach that’s different from relying completely or almost exclusively on your membership fees. Still, it does not require changes that actually impact the way you run your association. That’s particularly true if you embrace these subtle but impactful 6 ways to grow non-dues revenue.
1) Sell Free Space on Your Website and App
Most associations use their website as a central communication tool, and an increasing amount leverage their mobile app for similar purposes. And with any website or mobile app, some whitespace is bound to occur. So why not use it as a revenue generator?
Sponsorships with various relevant partners on your digital presence can take on a number of roles. Banner ads are common examples. But you can also offer sponsored content on your blog, or sponsor specific sections of your websites. The resulting revenue tends to be easily earned through brands looking to reach your members in a targeted fashion.
2) Build Out Your Events and Conferences
Do you hold an annual meeting or conference to get your members together? If so, you likely already charge a nominal registration fee to cover expenses. By building out your events, you can build revenue in one of two ways:
- Increase the value of your conference through professional development opportunities. Now, you can raise the registration fee and extend the invite to non-members for additional revenue.
- Offer sponsorships for both the event as a whole and individual sessions. Similar to selling ads on your website or app, these sponsorships generate revenue without fundamentally changing the way you organize or experience the event.
3) Rent Out a List of Your Members
Another potential partnership with external brands involves mailing lists. Direct mail still generates high response rates, and email offers the highest ROI of all digital marketing channels. Potential brand partners know this. That’s why renting out the contact information for your members for just these efforts can be an easy revenue generator.
Of course, you do have to take some precautions. Never give out contact information for members who have not agreed to share it. Make sure they know what they’re signing up for. And, even if they do opt in to receiving sponsored messages, give them a way to opt back out if they decide differently at a later point. Keep the needs and desires of your members at the forefront to use it as a revenue generator that doesn’t alienate your most important stakeholders.
4) Offer Soft-Skills Training Through Your Own Members
Sure, we often get hired because of our technical expertise. But in the everyday work place, and across industries, soft skills matter just as much. That’s what makes the potential for leadership training and communication skills so crucial for any association. In one survey, soft skills actually mattered more than technical knowledge for hiring managers.
The good news is that you don’t have to reach far to find this type of expertise. Chances are your membership includes plenty of leaders and skilled communicators. Work with them to offer training sessions to their less-experienced counterparts. If the program works and is popular, begin to charge small fees for recurring training sessions and workshops.
5) Embrace Membership Service Opportunities as Consulting Work
In addition to building soft skills, you can leverage your members’ expertise in other ways as well. Consider, for instance, their potential impact in helping you serve the community with related consulting work.
This concept works across almost any industry. A marketing association, for example, might look to help small businesses build their marketing plans.
Because its membership is full of experts in the fields, that expertise is naturally won and transferred to anyone in need of help. You can charge a nominal fee that (due to volunteer work) is still able to generate enough revenue for your budget on an annual basis.
6) Build a Job Board on Your Website
One study found that across industries, job boards can account for up to 87% of non-dues revenue for individual associations. If you don’t offer this option on your website yet, it might be time to get started on the implementation process.
Consider the mutual benefits of a job board: it provides active help for your members, while also growing the profile for your association. At the same time, you can charge fees for both simple listings and promotions about these listings. These fees, which will depend on the size of your membership but can range anywhere from $100 to $500 or more per listing, should be able to cover a significant chunk of your annual operating budget.
Finding the Right System for Non-Dues Revenue Dues
Of course, none of the above are possible without the right backend in place. For instance, renting out a list of your members is impossible if you don’t actually own a system that helps you do so easily, while keeping track of members who have opted out of being included in promotional mailings.
In other words, you need an effective association management system (AMS). As you complete your research, look for comprehensive solutions that don’t just help you keep track of your members but also organize events, process payments, and more.
Engagifii can be that system for you. Visit our website to learn more about our platform and how it helps associations like yours grow their non-dues revenue. Then, schedule a call or a demo to get in touch and discuss how we can solve your