Association dues are a dependable and steady form of income, but on average they make up only 30% of an association’s total revenue. Your association should have diverse sources of income and various streams of non-dues revenue, but what does that look like? Luckily, many of these sources of income can also double as member benefits.
Sell branded merchandise
It’s no secret people love SWAG! People love showing off what they are passionate about, whether it be their favorite musician, brand, or the association they’re a part of. Selling merchandise with your association’s logo on it is not only a great source of non-dues revenue, but it’s also an excellent form of advertising! Some practical merchandise ideas include t-shirts, water bottles, notebooks, pins, and stickers. However, the opportunities are endless these days when it comes to SWAG, so don’t be afraid to get creative.
Merchandise puts an association's brand out into the world. It's a form of word-of-mouth advertising that keeps on giving. Your association’s logo will be in more places with more people seeing it. As your members interact with other potential members, branded merchandise gives you another way to spread the word about your association in a genuine way.
Partner with sponsors
For a consistent stream of non-dues revenue, your association can pursue annual corporate sponsorships. Sponsorships could include offers like year-round or seasonal sponsorship opportunities, advertising on newsletters, or tabling at networking events.
In 2015, Kevin Mayeux, CAE, became CEO of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. A large part of Mayeux's strategy to increase non-dues revenue strategy was to reposition NAIFA's corporate outreach team. With a shift in structure, a clearer focus on business development and strategic partnerships, and a few new staff members, this new department was able to bring in enough money to cover the costs hiring new staff members and even brought in six-figure revenue on top of that! All by team securing new partners or upping sponsorship levels of existing partners!
Conference sponsorship packages can be offered to corporate vendors to help offset the cost of your annual conference. You can offer multiple levels of benefits and sponsorship fees, but a big perk to sponsorship packages is the direct access to your members! Packages may also include a booth and signage at your association’s annual conference, advertising in conference materials (welcome bags, programs, websites, etc.), special presentation sessions, and even meals or entertainment sponsorships.
Host a job board
Hosting a job board on your association’s website has many additional benefits, including being a substantial source of non-dues revenue. Beyond the revenue, it acts as a major member benefit! Your association instantly becomes a Career Hub for its members, making your association the go-to source for career resources for members! Support members at every step of their career advancement journey by providing them helpful resources to find the job, get the job and perform better on the job. By having a job board dedicated to industry-specific job postings, members have one place to go for job opportunities that are tailored to their interests and skills without ever leaving your association’s website.
Offer ad space in your organization’s newsletter
We’re dedicated to finding new and innovative ways to get the most out of your job board! We offer upgrades to employers to enhance their experience and yours. One way we do this is with the optional upgrade, by selling premium spaces in your association's newsletter. This offers the opportunity for employers to get their jobs directly in front of your members; we call that a win-win!
Use banner ads on your organization’s website
Whether on a more prominent space like your website’s home page or on another page like your career center, banner ads create awareness and drive web traffic as the ad itself typically contains a click-through link to a target destination, such as a job posting. Additional ad space can be sold as part of your sponsorship packages, mentioned above.
By now you probably know your members want to advance their careers, especially in the wake of The Great Resignation. Partnering with a learning management system (LMS) is a great way to offer valuable accreditation or certification programs, and another member benefit your association can offer to members.. These types of programs often charge a nominal fee, and more times than not, members are okay with paying these fees, especially if you’re offering a member-exclusive discount for them. Members are looking to invest in their careers, so give them the tools they need to do so!
A recruitment guide is a digitally published or printed booklet featuring a collection of recruitment ads that connects your members with top employers within your industry. This guide is distributed during your association’s largest annual member event. With little to no work from the association, a dedicated sales rep will secure these ad buys on behalf of your association. Just leave the heavy lifting to us!
When the National Council for Mental Wellbeing had to cancel their annual event in 2020, NatCon, which was estimated to have 6,000+ attendees, they relied on a digital recruitment guide to assist those attendees in finding new job opportunities and while maintaining their revenues sources.
Host events virtual and/or in-person
Hosting career events is an added benefit to both you and your members! When you host a career fair (virtual or in-person), industry recruiters are given the opportunity to connect and meet with your qualified members! Recruiters will pay to exhibit at the event to gain employment interest from your members. Once again your association is the ultimate Career Hub for your members, supporting them every step of the way!
Hosting an annual conference can help bring in non-dues revenue in a couple of ways. First, you can start by charging a registration fee. Whether you’re hosting a one-day virtual event or a multiday in-person conference, charging for registration is a great way to get additional non-dues revenue. You can offer a discounted single-day pass, charge for specific break-out sessions, or charge for a full access pass. Don’t forget you can use the event to attract corporate sponsors, as mentioned previously. By charging for your quality event and offering different tiered pricing, you are able to help offset the costs of hosting your event and deliver value to your members.
Non-dues revenue can be a beneficial and additional source of revenue for your association. With non-dues revenue, it's essential to remember that additional member benefits like events and webinars help both the association and its members.
Just remember, don’t put all your non-dues revenue eggs in one basket! One source might make your association more revenue, but you don’t want to rely on just that. If you diversify your non-dues revenue streams, if one source suddenly takes a hit, the others will be there to make up for it.