Data matters. And yet, in the age of big data, it’s easy to get confused. As a result, too many associations fail to leverage the information they gather about their members into actual, tangible improvements.
Take growing your non-dues revenue as an example. Most associations now rely on this revenue stream for 50% or more of their budget. Still, beyond some of the more obvious option such as holding an annual conference, they struggle to generate the revenue they need to grow and act on their mission.
That doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, as long as you manage your association effectively, you have a plethora of options to grow your non-dues revenue. All you have to know is where to start, which brings us back to the value of gathering your member data.
How Past Engagement Can Inform Future Revenues
The connection between engagement and revenue is intuitive. A member of your association who has regularly interacted with your content and attended your events in the past will become more likely to contribute to it in the future. The reason: they see the value in your stated goals and mission, and the benefits you can provide.
That’s true for many of the same reasons that lead to brand loyalty among consumers, which include:
- Novelty. If your association is different from any other professional organization in your industry, your members will see its value and become more willing to contribute to it.
- Positive reinforcement. The more positive memories your members associate with your association, the more their general attitude towards it change. Future asks for money will become much less of a barrier.
- Identity. When your members begin to identify with your association, you’ve hit the loyalty jackpot. Their contributions, even beyond their dues, now become a regular part and expectation of their lives.
That’s the reason engagement and association budgets are so closely related. Increase your engagement on a general level, and your non-dues revenue will increase. With that base concept in mind, let’s take a closer look about how engagement data specifically influences your budget.
The Value of Surveys in Your Revenue Efforts
Surveys can play an invaluable role in gathering engagement data, which can inform your revenue-growth efforts. Imagine, for instance, sending a survey specifically about professional development opportunities. Through information from your members you will better understand the types of topics, ideal times, and potential speakers most likely to lead to a profitable event.
The same thing is true for a number of other efforts, as well. For your most engaged members, filling out surveys will be a natural step that costs little, especially if you add a small incentive for completion. The data you gain from it will be crucial in building your non-dues revenue strategies. Once you roll out a fundraiser or annual conference, it will be informed by the data you have gathered and thus more likely to raise the funds you need.
Ideally and unless you anonymize your responses, your survey tool attaches answers to individual member profiles. Now, it can become even more valuable. You can use it to segment your communication for various communication efforts, increasing your personalization capabilities and maximizing your chances of successful revenue growth.
Leveraging Demographic Data for Financial Success
Another opportunity for growing non-dues revenue is to find and analyze information about your most engaged members. Chances are that they share a number of common demographic characteristics. You might, for instance, find that your most engaged members come from a specific area, have been professionals in the field for at least a set number of years, or have achieved a specific level of annual earnings.
Once you have that information, you can better target your marketing and promotional efforts. Send messages and fundraising emails based on specific pain points that are consistent for this audience group. Another option is to use these commonalities to target non-members for your events and professional development opportunities that share the same characteristics.
Both can only work, of course, if you actually have the capabilities to both gather and analyze the relevant data. That’s not always easy, and depends heavily on the software you use to manage your members. But with the right software, your leverage increases significantly.
A Note of Caution About Membership Data and GDPR
You might have heard about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which goes into effect throughout Europe this fall. Under this regulation, organizations bear heavier responsibility for the privacy of any third-party data they gather. In addition, audiences can request their information be deleted as long as they are on European soil.
Because of our globalized world, even American-based associations should pay special attention to the regulation. This primer of the law breaks down GDPR and its relevance to associations in a number of industries.
Above all, the implications for gathering and leveraging your membership data are obvious: don’t do anything with any information you have about your members that they haven’t agreed to. Express consent will make sure that you stay positive in the legal realm. That might limit some of your options (such as selling a member list to potential sponsors without consent), but will make sure that even as you leverage your engagement data, growing non-dues revenue is always above board.
How Can You Leverage Your Member Data for Revenue Growth?
All of the above can play a crucial role in making sure that your engagement data actually leads to tangible results. Gathering qualitative and quantitative information about your members, after all, can be immensely valuable – but only if you know how to leverage it. The above are just some of the ways in which that is possible.
Still, you need a software platform that enables holistic association management, from a thorough membership database to communication, survey, and data analysis tools. We can provide that platform for you. In fact, Engagifii specializes in helping associations across industries improve their management of digital assets and capabilities. Schedule a call today to learn more about our ability to help you better manage your professional organization.