Three Underutilized Revenue Streams for Associations

Three Underutilized Revenue Streams for Associations

If your association is looking for ways to increase its revenue, especially if you’ve had to cancel or scale down recent money-making events, here are three solutions you may not have tried yet. Use one or all of them to boost your income and even attract new members, thereby generating even more revenue.


It used to be a gargantuan effort to sell online, but these days it’s a breeze. You can sell virtually anything with an ecommerce store:

  • Association publications
  • Logo clothing, totes, umbrellas, etc.
  • Virtual classes
  • Services (see below)
  • Industry tools and equipment

There are multiple ways to set up for ecommerce shopping. Your website may already be designed to feature a store. There are also specialized widgets you can add to existing websites to sell online. Or you can link to an online sales platform like Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento and the like, which requires little to no coding skills.

Every organization is different, so you want to do your homework to find the platform that best suits your needs. Some elements to consider include:

  • 24/7 tech support
  • Ease of use
  • Multilingual capability
  • Wide range of page templates
  • Scalable sales tiers
  • Sales analytics and reports

Prices can vary widely depending on criteria like volume, shipping costs, instant downloads, etc., so it pays to shop around. Extras like plugins can add up fast if you’re on a budget.

Be sure to consult your association attorney if you’re a nonprofit. You want to make sure your sales stay within the guidelines of your 501(c)(3) status!

Selling Research and Services

Many associations have experts among their membership who would be valuable resources to businesses in related industries. Why not capitalize on that expertise to make a profit for your organization by selling research and services?

You’d be surprised who might be interested in your knowledge and resources. Everyone from filmmakers to wellness brands to charitable groups buys research today. What you take for granted might be money in your coffers.

Examples of research and service types that are popular today include:

  • Financial planning and reporting (industry specific or general)
  • Investments and real estate
  • Copywriting and marketing services
  • Fundraising and event planning proficiency
  • Regulatory reporting
  • Competitor intelligence
  • Pitch deck preparation
  • Health and nutraceuticals data and formulas

You don’t even need to be an association that specializes in that industry; you just have to have had success doing something that other organizations want to copy. For instance, you might be an association in the travel field that did a smashing job raising money with online auctions. You can sell your how-to expertise to other noncompeting associations or rent out one of your members to lead events for other groups.

Research isn’t limited to academia and medical studies; it can be any body of knowledge you’ve accumulated that makes you an authority and saves others a lot of legwork. Or you can help other groups learn how to acquire that knowledge for themselves if it hasn’t been collected or quantified yet.

Renting Out Equipment

Does your association have a storage locker full of equipment that you only use once or twice a year? It’s probably not doing you much good just sitting in a warehouse, when you could be renting it out to other groups. Even renting it for a nominal fee can add up over time, and it’s income that you may not have otherwise.

Customizable software programs make it easy to take orders, invoice and keep track of inventory, and you can integrate rentals with your online store.

Many associations have the kind of equipment that virtually any group might want to use: tables and chairs, event tents, audio-visual gear and catering supplies. These items are in high demand for nonprofit events, weddings, and municipal gatherings. If you can rent it for less than people would pay elsewhere, you’ll have a steady source of income as areas move out of pandemic restrictions and start hosting in-person events again.

Need Help Implementing These Revenue-Increasing Strategies?

Jaffe Management is here to help. We can work with your website to accommodate ecommerce, help you market services, and more. Call us at (212) 496-3155, or reach out to us online at