Every association knows that membership dues are only a small part of the equation. In fact, an increasing number of associations are relying on non-dues revenue to meet their budget need. In many cases, this funding source now accounts for more than 50 percent of overall budget for associations across industries.
But just how do you actually grow this part of the budget bucket? Events, conferences, and other professional development opportunities are a popular choice. Build tangible value for your members to advance in their profession, and they will be likely to provide you with the resources needed to sustain and grow your operations.
However, none of that effort can be successful without effective communication. If you cannot easily tell your members about professional development opportunities, for instance, chances are they won’t even think about signing up. And within that broad framework of communication, one aspect matters potentially more than any other: goal-driven messaging.
The Core Purposes of Goal-Driven Messaging
Before getting deeper into its benefits, it makes sense to define just what we mean by the term ‘goal-driven messaging’. It might sound familiar to communication professionals, who have long been using it as a guiding principle to increase the effectiveness of their individual messages and tactics. Still, it deserves further consideration.
For the purposes of this discussion, goal-driven messaging actually means two things:
- The intent and ability to be purposeful in your communication to members. In other words, every piece of communication you put out should be created and sent with a specific goal in mind, and every part of that messaging needs to reflect a desire to achieve that goal. It’s simple: if you want to drive and increase in non-dues revenue, your messaging should be built in a way that helps you improve this revenue stream.
- The extend to which you actually communicate your internal goals to your external audience. This might sound a bit more complex, but actually makes perfect sense. Put it this way: would you be more likely to give to a good cause if you knew what that cause actually was? Goal-driven messaging, in this case, points towards an association’s ability to structure its message in a way that clearly communicates its goals.
That second point is especially relevant for growing non-dues revenue. From professional development to events and conferences, the tactics of increasing your funds don’t matter nearly as much as the ways in which you communicate them. Emphasize the goals, and you will be in good shape.
Setting Goals to Which Your Audience Can Relate
That process starts, of course, with goals that your audience actually can relate to. The easiest thing is to boil your messaging down to a simple question: if you are raising money from your members, what cause will that money actually go to?
The answer might be diverse. You probably sustain operations, but it might also mean being able to book a more relevant or well-known keynote speaker for your conference. Additional non-dues funds could even allow you to offer additional advocacy or professional development opportunities that might not otherwise be available.
Which of these goals matter most to your audience? You might be able to find out with a simple survey. Ask your members exactly what type of expansion and emphasis of your operations they would like to see. Combine those preferences with your existing, internal capabilities. Now, you have a good starting point to build a fundraising goal to which your audience can actually relate.
Increasing Donations and Other Non-Dues Revenue By Communicating Your Goals
After setting your non-dues fundraising goals, it’s time to incorporate them into your communication. You can accomplish this through one of two tactics:
- Build a dedicated communication plan connected to your goal. For instance, if you are looking to raise funds specifically to hold a conference, build a series of touches (from emails to personal calls) that explain the need for the funds, detail specifics on how they might be spent, and the impact a gift can make.
- Incorporate messaging related to your revenue goal in your regular communication. If you put out a newsletter, for instance, it might make sense to introduce a recurring feature or box within that newsletter that calls for donations, sign ups, or other types of fundraising.
Of course, these two options are not mutually exclusive. You can effectively implement both. The one variable you have to be aware of is making sure that you don’t oversaturate the audience. After all, they’re members in your association because they’re looking for more than just spending their money. Asking for some funds makes sense, but be sure to also provide value in your messaging that is independent of any revenue beyond membership dues.
In taking this step, you can take a number of cues from other fundraising best practices. This comprehensive guide on fundraising emails, for example, works just as well for associations as it does for educational institutions, charities, and other good causes.
Building a Framework for Effective Association Communication
All of the above gives you a good theoretical idea of how to adjust your messaging and grow your non-dues revenue as a result. But it is all still theory. Without the right tools, you might not be able to effectively integrate your messaging strategy into your regular communication plan.
These tools should permeate all of the above points. Member feedback for setting non-dues goals, for instance, is much easier if you can integrate a survey tool that allows you to gather and analyze that feedback. Similarly, an effective customer relationship management system and integrated email tool can help you build a dedicated communication plan designed to grow your non-dues revenue.
With the right platform, you can even go beyond that. For instance, you can increase the diversity of your messaging by incorporating push notifications from your mobile app. Getting the theory of growing non-dues revenue right is important, but impossible to leverage without the right tools.
We can help to give you these tools. In fact, Engagifii offers a comprehensive association management platform that includes a CRM and other messaging opportunities. Schedule a call today to learn more about our platform, and how it can help you grow your revenue from dues and otherwise.