Association Non Dues Revenue Ideas: 10+ Ways to Diversify Income
Non dues revenue seems to be all the hype in association world lately. The association landscape is evolving and in order to keep dues at an affordable price, non dues revenue ideas for associations are becoming a huge demand.
Many association professionals dream of a day when membership won’t be their sole or main revenue source.
But how to get there? It seems like a stretch, but I’ve got news for you.
It’s way more attainable than you might think. And this article contains a ton of helpful association non dues revenue ideas.
If you become an expert in non dues revenue, your association career value instantly sky rockets. Most associations are on the lookout for different ways to diversify their income streams.
Figure out how to do that and you’re on the way to a jetset association career path.
Association Non Dues Revenue Idea #1: Sponsorships
Nearly everything can be sponsored and sponsorships are an absolute necessity for association non dues revenue.
The first thing you need to do is develop a list of vendors who you either work with or know target your membership as a customer base.
Here are few association non dues revenue ideas:
Any and all print materials for members can be sponsored. From membership brochures, flyers, educational kits, promotional items… you name it.
Find your most valuable print materials and call a few of your vendors to pitch ideas. Sell a piece of space on the print material. The language “In partnership with X company” looks great because it doesn’t look too salesy.
Webinars are ripe for association non dues revenue sponsorship opportunities.
Work with companies who want to market to your members and offer a “brought to you by XYZ company” slide at the beginning and/or end of the presentation.
Let a company rep give a short blurb about the company value before the beginning of the webinar.
Offer a small corner of each slide up for a company logo sponsorship.
Some companies may even want to host and create webinars themselves for your membership. If that’s the case, you’re reducing your non dues revenue workload and adding extra value to members by creating more programs.
Professional Development Courses
Have online courses or in person subject matter training?
Sell the “this class/course/program is brought to you by XYZ company” pitch to vendors. Vendors will often do a lot to get in front of your members eyes.
Education programs are already a source of association non dues revenue, why not capitalize on them more?
Ads on Your Website
Website ads are a great opportunity to create non dues revenue with existing vendor relationships.
Offer a banner ad space for vendors that lasts a fixed amount of time. You can sell the space months in advance by selling different ad time slots to different vendors.
A word of caution — don’t go overboard with ads on your website. A great ad is discreet and unnoticeable.
Too many ads will reduce web traffic and could potentially harm your website experience for members/potential members.
Conferences and Events Sponsorships
You can sponsor literally anything at an event.
Develop a sponsorship guide that includes all the different non dues revenue sponsorship opportunities. Create different sponsorship tiers, develop banners showing “platinum, gold, silver” sponsors.
Sell space on giveaways: pens, koozies, flyers, bags, hats, etc.
Think of all the high traffic spaces at your event venue and sell as much potential ad space in those areas.
Speaking of conferences and events…
Association Non Dues Revenue Idea #2: Conferences and Events
On top of conference/event sponsorships for non dues revenue, there are tons of opportunities to start new conferences and improve your current ones.
If you’re thinking, “we already have a great conference so I’m going to skip over this section”…
ASAE has 7 NATIONAL conferences that members from all around the US attend.
That’s 7 different programs that create non dues revenue from attendance alone.
Just think of all the sponsorship opportunities for each one.
Start a Conference. Already Host One? Start Another
Membership and great conferences/meetings go hand in hand. If your association hosts unforgettable events, members will join simply to get the “member discount” you will offer to attend.
Think of all the different functions your members perform in their profession.
Your association can host job-role specific events (think marketing, IT, executive leadership, young professionals etc.).
And remember, an abundance of sponsorship opportunities come along with each association event you host.
Host Recurring Virtual Conferences
Virtual conferences are on the rise.
Although they will never replace in person expos and events, there are a bunch of revenue generating opportunities with a virtual meeting.
The cost is less expensive for you and your members — no airfare or hotel stay necessary.
The content you create for a virtual conference is evergreen for at least a few years. Think of all the seminars and learning labs at live conferences that go unremembered or unattended by members.
Virtual events solve that problem. You can repurpose the content from virtual events and make it widely available to all members who attended and/or didn’t attend.
You can also sell sponsorships to essentially every piece of a virtual event. For example “This course brought to you by XYZ vendor”.
There are endless opportunities to start niche virtual conferences for specific job functions of your members.
And think about this — virtual events are an excellent way to “test” a new type of conference.
Say you want to start a young professional conference for your newer members.
Start with a virtual event and see how it goes. If it’s a big hit and your young members demand more, host a real-life young professional event in an exciting city.
On the flip side, if it doesn’t go as well as you want, there’s less risk involved because virtual events are incredibly less expensive than real ones.
Association Non Dues Revenue Idea #3: Rethink Professional Development
They can be huge revenue generators for associations. But are they necessary for your members?
The purpose of a certification or designation is for members to prove to their clientele they are educated and trustworthy.
Oh, and members simply love and/or need the acronym (CPA, SHRM-CP, etc.) next to their name.
There is a new trend of professional development on the horizon.
While designation and certification programs are necessary for many trades and professions, they can be time consuming and costly to launch.
Who has time now-a-days to take an in person class or exam in an inconveniently far away destination?
The New Wave of Education for Associations: Online Learning
LinkedIn just launched a new online learning platform with their new site redesign.
HubSpot offers free marketing certifications to anyone who wants to take one. Not just customers.
Coursera is one of the most popular online education websites — you can take a variety of courses and gain a certification of completion for each.
I have news for you.
Online education is taking over.
And if you don’t have an online education program at your association, you are missing out big time.
For-profits are cashing in on web-learning platforms and you need to act soon if online learning isn’t already on your radar within the next year.
There is a massive non dues revenue opportunity for associations when it comes to online learning.
Here’s where to begin.
The Right Way to Develop an Association Online Learning Platform
Classes, tests, problem solving activities — These can all be done online and hands off.
But how do you start?
A learning management system (LMS) is a software you can bake into your website that hosts all your online course content.
First, research different learning management systems. Here’s a top 10 list of vendors that provide online learning software to associations.
Another place to find info on association learning management systems is on ASAE’s Collaborate.
Hearing experiences from other association professionals can be useful.
Once you narrow down your selection, set up a few demos to see the software live.
The key here is you want to find a platform where you can develop the following:
- Video Courses — think 15-20 minutes each. Make bite sized courses with mini online tests in between.
- Problem solving and testing — make sure you can set up a grading scale to determine when members advance to the next section of a course.
- Certificate of completion — a LinkedIn badge feature is a CRITICAL feature to have along with digital and printable certificates. Give your members as many ways to showcase their professional development as possible.
Now to the fun part — how these online courses will generate association non dues revenue.
Generating Revenue With Online Courses
Online learning will offer associations a variety of different non dues revenue opportunities.
For starters, these online courses are meant to be self paced.
That means no facilitator for the classes.
Gone are the days for paid webinars and live online training, which is fantastic news for associations.
Evergreen content is defined as online content that is valuable and needs minimal updates/management.
The more evergreen you make these courses, the better.
The Classic Model: Member Rate and Nonmember Rate
Online learning acts as an association non dues revenue generator and a member recruitment pitch.
When you determine the price for your online courses, you must have both a member and nonmember rate.
Then you have this golden nugget membership pitch:
“The money you save by taking X amount of courses at the member rate will pay for your membership for Y years”
Did I Mention Sponsorships Yet?
You know all that online course content hundreds of your members are taking each year?
Vendors will be chomping at the bit to pay your association to sponsor online learning content.
Sell a sponsorship for one video. Or an entire course. It’s up to you — and there’s virtually no limit to flexibility and sponsorship packages to offer.
Create One Unforgettable Course and Make it Free. For Everyone.
For members and nonmembers.
This will be the most important online course for any and every association.
Here is why creating one free, unforgettable course is instrumental to online learning program success:
The free course will generate more revenue than any other online course your association develops.
You might be thinking, “that simply doesn’t make sense. How can something that’s free generate revenue?”
The reason is because you want to make these online courses as sticky as possible.
You want as many members and nonmembers possible to enroll and complete the free course.
You also want to make sure the free course is the most valuable out of any online class your association develops.
- Think of this as a new member lead generator. A free course is an excellent way to expose association value to nonmembers.
- The more members and nonmembers fall in love with your free course, the more willing they will be to pay for similar experiences.
In the long run, the free course will create more demand for association membership and additional online course content.
Although the course is free at face value, in the long run it will drive more revenue in many different areas.
The Times Are A-Changin’ — Be More Creative and Less Reliant on Membership Revenue
The days of the “joiner” generations are soon to pass.
What are you doing to diversify your associations non dues revenue?
Now is the time to start. Think of all the value your association adds. What products do you currently sell? Do you have conferences and events?
Are you able to re-engineer your education to an online platform?
Now more than ever, potential members demand value.
Associations everywhere need to pivot and focus their time and energy on non dues revenue opportunities. In the long run, more revenue means more resources to make your members’ lives easier.