Non-Dues Revenue: A Business Model for Success
Man cannot survive on bread alone. Likewise, an association cannot survive on revenues obtained solely from membership dues.
If you want to grow your association, you need to develop multiple avenues for financial growth from non-dues revenue sources.
What would your association do if your membership growth slowed? Would you be able to survive? If you can create these additional non-dues revenue sources to grow your association’s finances, you will be in a privileged position where you will not even bat an eyelash.
So what are some additional ways to see financial growth in your association through non-dues revenue?
Offer Your Members Something They Don’t Already Have
You already know that you have the attention of your members. If they’re willing to pay your membership dues, it means you’re doing something right. So why not utilize this attention that you already have?
Upselling is a sales technique that many people are familiar with. It is the simple act of utilizing the attention that your audience is already giving you to offer them something more in exchange for an additional fee.
You can do the same for your association members. Offer some exclusive content, benefits, or services for your members who choose to engage with this higher status. These can all be additional sources of non-dues revenue that they want and/or need.
For your association members, a higher status can mean a greater feeling of inclusivity with your association. This creates not only a feeling of inclusion for these members, but a feeling like their inclusion really means something beyond the general association membership.
Utilize Advertising Sales for a Non-Dues Revenue Stream
Most associations are already utilizing literature such as newsletters and automated emails for their members. These associations provide information to many eyes all over the world, and this is a great opportunity to increase non-dues revenues through advertising placements. While associations are serving their members through periodic informational avenues, they can also work on increasing non-dues revenue through strategic advertising placements within the content.
Offer advertising space, like those our friends at Association Revenue Partners provide, through different distribution channels such as newsletters, on your website, and through buyers’ guides as a source of non-dues revenue. There are plenty of businesses and services that would love to present themselves to your association members as having aligning interests and mentalities. To keep everything inline with your association’s values, make sure that these advertisements come from a company or service that you and your members align with in terms of ideology.
At its core, associations are created to bring like-minded professionals together. These folks work together to serve a greater purpose in the name of the association, and also within their individual professional lives. So the question isn’t why should you offer outside entities a chance – it’s why wouldn’t you? Everyone wins! Now is the time to focus on your members’ values, interests, and needs.
What companies align with your association’s values and interests? What services are something your members need? Give them a trusted source to go to, and in turn, you will also enhance your association’s reputation as a truly valuable source. Sponsorship opportunities are everywhere, and it’s a great way to make some additional non-dues revenue for your association.
Non-Dues Revenue Through Branded Merchandise
Merchandising is perhaps the most obvious way of creating non-dues revenue streams for your association. If your association is something your members are proud to be a part of, you can bet that they would be proud to sport some branded merchandising too. This could be as simple as a hat or a sweatshirt (the cold months are still here).
Offering branded association merchandise is a way to encourage your members to feel that same sense of belonging we discussed earlier (as well as in our blog about AI & Personalized Content). And it also works as free advertising for your association. Place a merchandise order for clothing or other products that have your logo, name, and contact information on them, but also something that generates engagement.
Create unique merchandise that will intrigue people on the street enough to ask your members, “What is ________?” Lay the these conversations and you will be converting people into members before you even meet them.
Engage the Active Audience on Social Media
Your association probably has more events and programs than any individual member is able to remember. So utilize your captive audience of social media followers. You want to engage with your members in this way already, so use it to create some excitement around additional sources of non-dues revenue.
Let members know what you have going on, but also use it as free advertising. If you’re offering branded merchandise, this is a great way to get the word out. Engage people with the visual capabilities of Facebook or Instagram. Show off those stylish hats or sweatshirts. Again, create a conversation.
Make people, especially non-members, want to engage with your social media posts. Make them want to ask questions about your merchandise, your events that are open to members and non-members alike, and other impressive things your association is participating in. Make them want it. Non-dues revenue generation like this, if done correctly, will eventually translate into more dues-based revenue as well. It’s a win-win.
Make a Splash at Trade Shows
Here’s the big one! Your trade shows are your direct line to the people of the world. This is where all of the things we have discussed come together to make the perfect storm of total revenue generation.
Showcase the additional services, content, and events your association is offering. Show off your branded merchandise. It might even be wise to give it away for free at these trade shows in order to pull in more prospective members.
Get your booth sponsored! Decrease your overhead costs, and show that your association aligns with companies or services that line up with the values and concerns of your members, (and people you hope will become members).
Also, encourage people to follow your social media accounts by making a game or contest of it. For example, create a photo booth where folks can take pictures while wearing your branded merchandise. This increases your free advertising, but also makes people want to check out your social media presence. Add a hashtag that is customized for your association and the trade show you are attending. While they’re taking a look at that stylish photo of themselves, they will also see all of these other services and products you offer, potentially generating even more non-dues revenue down the line.
The Never Ending Source of Non-Dues Revenue
Your ability to generate financial growth outside of membership dues is only limited by your imagination. Everyone has a certain amount of disposable income. Give your members a reason to believe that your association has something worth putting this disposable income towards outside of their membership fees.
Running an association is a unique venue of connection to the world. Make use of this unique connection to provide your members with even more benefits than they thought possible. This is what will ultimately keep your association growing consistently year after year.