Trends in Non-Dues Revenue

Trends in Non-Dues Revenue

More and more association leaders are turning to non-dues revenue sources to meet their budgetary needs. Indeed, the 2016 Association Advisor Association Communication Benchmarking Study cites that 54% of association leaders view non-dues revenue as a serious challenge, up from 11% in 2015. A robust plan to develop non-dues revenue, or revenue from sources other than membership fees, is vital if an association is to compete and thrive.

Before we discuss trends in non-dues revenue, it’s worth being reminded of why looking beyond membership dues for revenue is so crucial. On the heels of the recession, as membership levels begin to stabilize, many associations remain leery of raising membership dues and upsetting members. According to Marketing General Incorporated’s 2016 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, roughly 17% of associations raise membership dues annually, 57% raise dues only when absolutely necessary, and 6% never raise dues (the remaining associations raise dues every other year). When associations do raise dues, they tend to raise them by less than 10%.

Where, then, do associations turn to boost income and better serve their members? Below are a few trends in non-dues revenue sources.

  • Seek sponsorships and affinity partnerships. Your association is probably benefitting from sponsors who pay for advertising space in your program, set up a display in your exhibition hall, or provide swag. You can also ask relevant organizations to sponsor a webinar or conference session, mentor professionals, provide scholarships for continuing education, and pay you for making referrals. Affinity programs similarly provide you with an opportunity to strategically partner with vendors who have products or services your members are interested in.
  • Monetize your educational offerings. Are you providing benefits to your members (and non-members) at no cost? Things like online job boards, publications, and certification courses are of high value. Consider licensing your articles and content or databases.
  • Look at grants and contracts. According to a poll by Association Advisor in early November of this year, 17% of association leaders cite that government sources of non-dues revenue are the most important. Can your association take advantage of grants or government contracts for things like infrastructure and tourism? Though securing these funds can be tedious, many feel it is well worth the time and effort.

The more diverse your revenue stream the more likely you are to successfully weather a financial storm. What non-dues revenue sources are most important to your association?