The Benefits of Non-Dues Revenue and How Associations Can Take Advantage

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March 3, 2022

Non-dues revenue has never been more important to associations. A recent study released by McKinley Advisors revealed that generating non-dues revenue was the top priority for associations. These alternate income streams contribute significantly to an association’s financial stability and security, particularly in times of economic turmoil, as well as substitute for the dwindling membership and renewal rates that many associations are currently experiencing. Not only will the creation of other income streams make up for the potential shortcomings of membership dues in times of crisis, but associations can leverage the creation of new products and services to their advantage to gain a broader membership base through lower membership fees and develop new programs and events for their members.

Furthermore, non-dues revenue streams provide associations the ability to actively contribute to reserves, maintain healthy budgets, stabilize membership rates, and continue to provide quality products and services to members. Traditional non-dues revenue programs, like events, education, certifications, and publications are helpful to the sustained growth of associations, but finding ways to further diversify your current non-dues revenue strategies is essential.

Diversifying non-dues revenue strategies also allow associations to rely less on membership dues as a foundation for budgets, especially after 2020 when many associations experienced a stark decline or collapse in revenue streams altogether. Time and time again, associations have faced the challenge of being asked to do more for their members, despite having to work with tighter budgets and fully burdened staff. With staff, finances, and other resources being stretched thin as a result of the pandemic, it has been harder than ever for associations to allocate the appropriate time and resources that lead to the development of strategic sources of diverse non-dues revenue.

Fortunately, innovations in technology and the pivot towards digital solutions have created more money-generating opportunities for associations. Here are a few ways to start boosting your association’s cash flow in 2022.

KNOW YOUR MEMBERS' NEEDS

When looking to develop or expand upon existing non-dues revenue streams, it’s important to speak with members and gauge their current needs. This allows you to understand whether or not your association is meeting those needs, or if you need to provide new offerings to members in order to meet those needs. A good place to start is by speaking with board and committee members, as they are familiar with the association and committed to advancing its mission and objectives.

New members are good to survey as well because they can provide fresh insights and perspectives as to why they joined. Asking new members what their expectations and needs are is an excellent way to show the value and commitment your association has placed in helping members be more successful in their day to day lives.  It’s also an excellent opportunity to ensure new members are aware of all the products and services your association offers.

Once you have a foundation of information acquired from speaking with a subset of your members (board, committees, and new members), the next step would be to send short surveys to the remaining members of your association. Quick pulse surveys, for instance, are a great way to gain relevant information about members. Additionally, make sure that an action or follow-up is taken on the answers received from the surveys. Members are more likely to give feedback if they see that it is received and implemented. Getting a good read on your members’ needs through a survey, or a member focus group, can provide your association with current and detailed feedback about existing programs and services.

Not only do surveys allow for a deeper connection with members by building trust, but they give associations the opportunity to solve a problem or alleviate a challenge that may have gone undetected. For instance, by asking members what services they most value, what services they least value, and what services they would like to see offered in the future, your association is able to re-establish its value proposition and relevancy to its members, while being given the chance to develop member-centric non-dues revenue offerings. In turn, your association will also be able to eliminate services that are perhaps outdated, or no longer needed. Knowing your member needs – as well as your organization’s revenue goals – are critical components of any non-dues revenue strategy.

Having these initial conversations with board and committee members, as well as surveying and following up with current members, are great ways to provide a roadmap of potential offerings that could produce new non-dues revenue opportunities in the future.

BE A TRUSTED RESOURCE FOR MEMBERS WITH CONTENT-SPECIFIC
NEWS AND INFORMATION

While the internet can serve as a wonderful tool for keeping up with industry news, trends, topics, and updates, the abundance of information available to the public today can be overwhelming, and exhausting to read through at times. And to further complicate matters, how do you know if what you’re reading is accurate, or reliable?

Associations have the opportunity to “cut through the clutter,” of excess information by leveraging their voice and authority in their industry, and providing trusted and accurate content-specific news and information to their members. This can be implemented in newsletters, or even on your association’s website. In addition to establishing an association as a credible voice within their industry, providing subject matter-specific news, trends, and information offerings in association newsletters can help reinforce an association's relevancy, boost membership engagement, and provide opportunities for additional advertising or sponsorships in the future.

MAKE THE MOST OF PROGRAMMATIC ADVERTISING

In addition to offering content-specific media to members, programmatic advertising and retargeting methods continue to gain momentum around the world. Retargeting is a form of digital advertising that allows marketers to execute highly targeted ad campaigns to reach their desired audience online. Programmatic advertising offers associations a way to extend their audience reach by providing ad campaigns to marketers, allowing them to reach your site visitors even after they leave your association’s website. Recent studies revealed that programmatic media buys account for 85% of all digital ad spending in the United States, and 80% in Europe.*

The reason behind programmatic advertising’s success? It’s efficient, targeted, and scalable. In fact, studies show that brand awareness through repeat exposure drives stronger purchasing relationships. Associations should consider either implementing programmatic advertising into existing advertising packages, or mixing packages, in order to further diversify non-dues revenue streams, and amplify their advertising and marketing campaigns.

LEVERAGE YOUR ASSOCIATION'S ACCESS TO VALUABLE INFORMATION

In addition to providing members accurate and reliable sources of information, associations can take this one step further by leveraging their access to valuable industry insights and repackaging it in the form of curated libraries. Whether it’s offering members access to podcast interviews with subject matter experts in their industry, or digital libraries filled with research journals and data reports, both are strategies associations can use to diversify or expand upon existing non-dues revenue programs. Using a subscription model, similar to those used by streaming platforms, members can access relevant, accurate, and reliable information anytime, anywhere.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Diverse non-dues revenue programs need to be part of your association’s current and long range plans. Associations with diversified revenue streams are more stable, particularly during unpredictable or crisis situations. If we’ve learned anything since 2020, it’s that the world can change on a dime. What was once a reliable, abundant source of revenue for your association can disappear or be significantly diminished in an instant, putting your association in a precarious position. To avoid this risk, it’s wise to develop robust, strategic, and diverse non-dues revenue programs that will lead to both financial growth and stability.

 

Association Insights & Outlook Report_Blog_169x271

2022 Association Insights
& Outlook Report

Multiview surveyed 620 association leaders to find out how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted their organizations in terms of revenue generation, event planning, membership engagement, retention, and recruitment. This report includes key findings from survey results and sheds light on what decisions associations are making to move forward.

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