Where does your association drive revenue—and does it include a non dues revenue strategy?
Diverse revenue streams are crucial to the success of any organization. If you have a dip in membership renewals one year, you need another stream to keep you covered!
Integrating a non dues revenue strategy into your business plan will support your organization’s long-term growth and stability. Long term, that means your association will foster trust with members who see reliable programming, stable finances, and excellent business planning.
Which…can lead to more member renewals, and better dues revenue, too!
It’s all connected.
Read on to learn how to grow your non dues revenue streams, even in the face of challenges that every association goes through.
What Is Non Dues Revenue?
Non dues revenue refers to the income generated by organizations through sources other than membership fees.
Some examples of the more popular types of non dues revenue streams include:
- Fundraising campaigns
- Online fundraising
Whether your association is large or small, you can start with this list if you’re looking for non dues revenue ideas to diversify your revenue streams.
Non dues revenue matters because it supports your organization if traditional membership dues stagnate, and helps you grow your organization as you require more resources.
Why Does My Organization Need Non Dues Revenue?
Generating non dues revenue plays a vital role in your organization. It lets you:
- Diversify revenue streams
- Increase financial stability
- Grow your program offerings
- Attract new members (with non-member/blended events)
Diversify revenue streams
Say you have 2,000 writers each paying $150 in dues every year. That’s $300,000. Imagine, suddenly, there’s a writer’s strike, and pay is reduced for your entire member base. You might see unusually high turnover that renewals cycle, and it would take you a long time to catch up.
If 25% of that member base fails to renew, that’s $75,000 lost for the following year—and probably means less headcount or fewer programs for your association. Building a non dues revenue strategy reduces your reliance on membership fees, and gives you confidence that if one stream hits a wall, you’ll still be okay.
The ultimate reason for diversifying your revenue is financial stability for your association. Financial stability means you can grow your team, offer more programming, and give your members (and staff!) a sense of security. That can also be great for getting buy-in from your board or keeping members around for years (or decades!) at a time.
Growing your program offerings
Non dues revenue allows organizations to expand their program offerings and enhance the value they offer to their member base. That could mean more networking events, new member acquisition events, bigger conferences, or super-value certification programs! Financial stability looks good on you, too, and can draw in more exciting partnerships to enrich your member benefits. And we all know better member benefits = longer-term members!
Attracting new members
Non dues revenue campaigns, such as non-member events or blended events open to members and non-members, create opportunities to show off your organization’s value. These events are perfect non dues revenue ideas for associations that need to increase their reach and find new members.
6 Reasons Organizations Struggle to Grow Non Dues Revenue
Associations that grow non dues revenue blast through barriers and think creatively to overcome the challenges that most organizations face.
Barriers to diversifying and leaning into non dues revenue for associations are often:
1. Small staff
Limited staffing can make it hard to start any new initiative—including a non dues revenue strategy. When team members wear “too many hats,” it can feel overwhelming to stray from what is comfortable and successful.
To overcome this, try allocating resources strategically, using technology and automation, and outsourcing specific tasks to become more efficient. Non dues revenue is more than a temporary financial boost. It can help you long term: even with building a stronger team!
2. Low (or no) budget
The old saying “you need to spend money to make money” comes to mind here, and often organizations are hesitant to do so. Start by building an event budget around ROI, setting goals for the amount of revenue you want to drive per dollar spent, and finding opportunities to drive revenue without spending anything at all.
When a low budget is a big factor, associations can explore cost-effective alternatives, seek partnerships and sponsorships, and invest in low-cost marketing tactics (like organic social media or comarketing) to overcome budget limitations.
3. Too many ideas
A surplus of ideas can lead to scattered efforts and a lack of focus. Too many chefs in the kitchen don’t make a good meal, so non dues revenue generation campaigns need to be laser-focused and clear.
Your association should prioritize its revenue-generating initiatives based on feasibility, potential impact, and alignment with your objectives. Implementing a clear and strategic roadmap and setting clear priorities will make execution a piece of cake!
4. Reliant on memberships
Change is always challenging, but organizations that rely heavily on membership fees could face future financial problems. If you’re in an environment that’s “always done things this way” or has faced barriers to generating non dues revenue in the past, learning about stakeholder management, business planning, and ROI will help you to create a plan that’ll get buy-in, fast.
Where to start? Explore non dues revenue opportunities that align with your organization’s offerings, target audience, and industry. Think outside the box, and growing your revenue streams can be fun!
While your specific space might feel crowded and saturated, there are always ways you can differentiate your organization. Stand out from your competitors with unique member benefits, innovative event activations, personalized experiences, and effective marketing strategies.
For example, you could run a conference that leverages industry-leading event gamification, providing your attendees an exciting and unforgettable experience.
6. Hard to prove value or ROI
Demonstrating non dues revenue initiatives’ value and return on investment (ROI) can take time and effort. To overcome this challenge, you can establish clear metrics, track and analyze data, gather participant feedback, and communicate the tangible benefits of their events and conferences.
Nowadays, event feedback and lead capture is easier to track than ever, with a simple app that lets you collect, score, and follow up with leads. Don’t be afraid to use technology to prove the value of your non dues revenue strategy, especially when it comes to events!
How to Grow Non Dues Revenue
With so many types of non dues revenue ideas to look into, it can feel overwhelming to choose one to start with. Here’s how your organization can start building a successful growth strategy.
Set SMART goals
SMART goals are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals. This type of goal-setting framework is perfect for non dues revenue growth, which provides clarity and ensures focus on results.
Put someone in charge
Designate a dedicated team or individual responsible for driving non dues revenue. This person should possess strong organizational and leadership skills, understand marketing and event planning, and really get revenue generation.
Watch the competition
Stay informed about your organization’s industry trends, competitors’ offerings, and successful revenue-generating practices. When you monitor the competition, you can quickly identify gaps, innovate, and adapt your strategies to maintain a competitive edge.
Take inspiration from everywhere
Look beyond your industry for inspiration! Explore successful strategies employed by other verticals, such as business-to-business (B2B), business-to-consumer (B2C) companies, and nonprofit organizations, to adapt and implement innovative revenue-generation ideas.
Get the right tools in place
Use proven event technology, email marketing platforms, job boards, analytics tools, and accounting software to streamline operations, enhance attendee experiences, and track revenue generation effectively. You don’t have to rely on traditional marketing tactics anymore. The digital world has put event planning and success at your fingertips, so find the right platform and stick to it.
Hold regular check-in meetings
Foster open communication and collaboration among team members involved in your non dues revenue initiatives. Regular meetings and check-ins offer the opportunity to share progress, address challenges, and brainstorm ideas for improvement.
Develop a system for measuring non dues revenue activities’ and their potential ROI. When you use analytics tools, you can evaluate event success and track key performance indicators to assess the success and impact of revenue generation efforts.
Send surveys & get feedback
Collect feedback from attendees, members, sponsors, and partners to continuously improve the value and impact of non dues revenue initiatives. Surveys and feedback loops will help your organization better understand participant needs and preferences, driving revenue growth through enhanced offerings.
Trying to decide which non dues revenue strategy to try first? EventMobi’s ready-made guide to sponsorship strategy will teach you everything you need to know to secure sponsorships that generate dependable event revenue.💰
15 Non Dues Revenue Ideas for Associations and Chambers of Commerce
So we know:
- Non dues revenue is a non-negotiable program for associations
- Associations face tons of challenges when growing their revenue streams
- There are plenty of tactics you can use to overcome those challenges
But what about actual non dues revenue ideas for chambers of commerce and associations?
Organize industry-specific events, networking events, and trade shows that cater to your member needs. Generate revenue through ticket sales, sponsorships, exhibitor fees, and partnerships. Need to land new sponsors? Build out a sponsorship package that shows you understand what value you’re really going to bring to the table.
Host conferences that bring together industry experts, thought leaders, and professionals. Offer premium tickets, corporate sponsorships, and exhibitor packages to generate revenue. Conferences can also be an excellent way to show your organization’s position as a thought leader in the field!
Are you able to accept donations? Plan fundraising events, charity galas, silent auctions, and benefit concerts. You could even expand your reach by partnering with local charities or nonprofits who resonate with your member base, which could have the dual purpose of landing you new members!
Want the fundraising without the event? You can use social media and crowdfunding platforms—or even your own website—to launch online fundraising campaigns. Develop creative donation strategies and partnerships that encourage giving. Leverage online tools to track donations, understand donor habits, and optimize fundraising efforts.
Pursue grants from foundations, government entities, and corporate philanthropy programs to fund events and initiatives. By developing compelling proposals and demonstrating your alignment with the grantor’s objectives, you can raise your chances of receiving the grant! The critical step in this process is researching and finding grants that align naturally with your organization’s mission. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck doing new programs you might not care about!
Partner with companies and brands that align with your members’ interests and values. Offer sponsorship packages that provide brand exposure and lead generation opportunities. Not sure where to start? Knowing how to create a sponsorship strategy is the key to generating a strong sponsorship ROI. Make sure you’re tracking the analytics most important to them, like sponsor booth or content engagement.
Sell ad space
Provide opportunities for vendors to advertise their products or services during events. This doesn’t just mean traditional paper advertising—instead, give vendors opportunities to promote their business through your event website, event app, digital signage, programs, and more. Your vendors will thank you for the additional promotion, and you get a reliable revenue source every time you host an event.
Collaborate with complementary businesses and organizations to co-host events, share resources, and leverage each other’s networks for revenue generation. This can help your money go farther—and split the workload across two staff teams instead of one. Plus: you both get to market to one another’s audiences!
Education & training
Offer educational workshops, certification programs, and training sessions related to your area of expertise. This could be through webinars, virtual seminars, or even physical workshops.
Certifications offer a valuable opportunity to generate non dues revenue while providing members and professionals with recognition of their skills and expertise. In addition, by providing certification programs, organizations can contribute to the professional development of their members, and they can establish themselves as trusted authorities in their respective industries.
An example of a certification program is Google’s Grow With Google program, which offers certifications in Project Management to Cybersecurity. Think about how you can transform your organization’s space with a trustworthy certification!
Creating merchandise can be an investment that takes time to see good ROI. But it’s both a great marketing tactic and a source of ongoing revenue that you can tap into even without holding an event! Just remember to develop high-quality and relevant inventory such as t-shirts, tote bags, and other useable branded merchandise. Think about what would really speak to your audience so that your merchandise will see regular use!
Create a job board or career center focused on your industry. Becoming a central hub for career growth is a great way to build relationships with both job seekers and job posters in your space. In addition, you can generate non dues revenue by charging businesses a fee to post job listings and provide job seekers access to relevant opportunities.
Add-on services or benefits
Are you able to offer an upgraded experience? Look at developing a VIP or premium service that charges $$$ and provides an elevated version of your events. From giving them designated recovery space in your venue to offering a meet-and-greet with the speaker at your conference, offering premium add-on services or benefits will enhance the attendee experience. In turn, the additional price lets you garner more non dues revenue by building on existing event plans.
Renting/leasing your space
If your organization owns or has access to any event venue, consider renting or leasing the space to other organizations for their events or meetings. This can be a great way to generate an additional stream of revenue while allowing others to take advantage of your space, and building community in the process.
If you are able to accept donations, make it a priority at your events! You can invite your audience and participants to donate voluntarily during registration, online, or at the event. This serves as an additional revenue stream and allows your attendees to show their appreciation through monetary support!
Grow Non Dues Revenue with the Right Event Tech
Event technology plays a pivotal role in maximizing non dues revenue.
Some essential event tech solutions include:
- Event management platforms for streamlined registration, an online event space, and conference apps
- Email marketing tools to effectively promote events, nurture leads, and drive registrations
- Google Analytics for data-driven insights and tracking website performance
- Accounting software to manage financial transactions and track revenue and expenses
- Virtual event platforms for hosting online events and conferences, reaching a wider audience, and generating revenue from virtual attendees
The right blend of technology will make the most of your budget, energy, and time to generate the best return on your investment.
EventMobi’s association event tech has been used by thousands of event organizers over the last 13+ years to help boost their ROI, and our customer success team helps put on hundreds of annual conferences every year.
Want to see if we’re right for you? 🤝 Book a call with our team!
Non dues revenue holds immense potential for any organization looking to get to relative stability. With non dues revenue, your organization can diversify its revenue streams, improve financial stability, expand program offerings, and attract new members.
Don’t be afraid of getting creative and thinking outside the box to overcome challenges such as limited resources or industry competition. Through effective use of event technology and a focus on innovative revenue-generation ideas, you can help your organization stay on track to achieve your goals.