3 (More) Ideas for Non-Dues Revenue You Probably Haven’t Thought of Before

Check out these practical, easy-to-implement ideas for how associations can increase and diversify their revenue mix without straining internal resources.

Given the interest level in our previous article offering ideas for non-due revenue, we decided to release this piece as a sequel. And if you’ve successfully launched non-dues revenue programs you’d like us to share with our community in an upcoming story, please email us.

If finding new sources of non-dues revenue is a strategic priority for your association, you’re certainly not alone. According to Forvis’s 2023 State of the Nonprofit Sector, 60% of associations have stagnant or declining revenue compared to last year. This is especially troubling, given that the year-over-year comparison corresponds with a time period when two-thirds of associations reported the same thing. In other words, the majority of associations experienced a revenue decline compared with a year when revenue was also down. That is the definition of a downward trend.

And while membership and event registration remain the highest revenue priorities for most associations (87% and 67% respectively), according to a recent study by PAR, less than half expect to meet their budget numbers in either category.

As Sean Soth, PAR Leadership Advisory Board Chair and SVP of Strategy and Global Business Partnerships, explains, “Association business has relied on repeatable revenue models to deliver member value and share mission. A global pandemic interrupted standard business approaches and highlighted the importance of improved business development practices for association programming.”

Hoping for a return to normal is simply not a sound strategy for associations. In fact, revenue-wise, this may very well be the new normal.

“The impact of the pandemic simply shined a bright light on a problem that existed well before COVID-19,” says Teri Carden, founder of Non Dues-a-Palooza. “The need for a diverse revenue mix is more acute than ever for the majority of associations.”

For associations taking a proactive approach to expand and diversify their revenue, we humbly offer three more ideas to tap new sponsorship dollars while also adding deeper value to members — two essential criteria for evaluating non-dues revenue opportunities.

White Paper:

Growing Non-Dues Revenue with an Online Resource Library

1. Monetize your event app

Many associations already offer an app to accompany their conference or tradeshow. An app can provide attendees with important event information, such as the agenda, maps, exhibitor lists, speaker bios, and networking opportunities. Personalization features allow attendees to plan their schedules and track sessions, giving associations insights into member engagement, preferences, and behavior.

An app can also allow an association to expand the revenue potential of its event. “Events are a lucrative source of revenue for associations and, thankfully, people are finally traveling again for live events,” explains Chrissy Gow, Director of Marketing at EventMobi. “Associations can add value to existing sponsorships and create additional advertising opportunities by integrating an app into their event, which will also enhance the experience for attendees.”

Gow goes on to provide several examples of how associations can monetize their event app beyond basic banner ads, including:

  • An app is an excellent place to deliver time-sensitive announcements to attendees, and these can be monetized. If, for example, a sponsor is planning a product release, special announcement, or some kind of prize, a sponsored alert can direct attendees to their booth.
  • Whether they’re looking for the registration desk or the route to their next session, attendees will frequently reference the map, where you can place sponsors’ logos in the title area of the map — somewhere eye-catching that doesn’t interfere with the map. Or, you can help drive traffic to sponsor booths or tables by highlighting and labeling them on the map.
  • Reward higher-tier exhibitors by offering enhancement packages that allow them to improve their presence in the exhibitor listing. Upsell sponsors on in-app exhibitor booths, which can include their branding, social media links, and attached resources like product presentations, brochures, and videos.
  • Periodic surveys and polls delivered throughout the duration of an event can increase member engagement and also provide creative sponsorship opportunities.
  • Event gamification has become more popular recently. Applying an app’s functionality to gamification challenges like points, badges, and leaderboards can foster even more participation from attendees and also create unique sponsorship opportunities.

2. Drive revenue with video

According to a 2022 report from Wyzowl, 80% of consumers want to see more videos from businesses. Moreover, the researchers found that 87% of respondents say video marketing has helped increase sales.

For many associations, video is already a key part of the content mix. Used strategically, video can also be a meaningful component of your non-dues revenue portfolio.

“Associations can leverage the incredible momentum video is enjoying by offering video sponsorship opportunities to grow their non-dues revenue,” says Michael Hoffman, CEO of Gather Voices, which offers software solutions that automate the process of creating, branding, and publishing video content.

“Creating a video sponsorship plan is an achievable strategy for association teams of all sizes,” says Hoffman, who offers several examples of how an association can monetize video:

  • Give sponsors the ability to record and distribute video content across the association's marketing channels.
  • Offer sponsors the option to add their logo and branding to individual videos or interactive video galleries.
  • Create a branded experience at live events to co-create member-driven video content and increase brand awareness.

3. Launch a “next-gen” Resource Library

Nearly every association has a resource library on its website. It’s likely to be featured in the main navigation and, in terms of functionality, it’s even more likely to have changed very little since the website was launched.

Upgrading to an interactive Resource Library platform, however, provides more dynamic functionality to improve member experience, deepen engagement, and grow loyalty. An interactive Resource Library can also be a recurring source of non-dues revenue because it aggregates third-party resources, such as whitepapers, webinars, podcasts, and other types of educational material.

Here’s how a Resource Library can grow non-dues revenue:

  • When an association member is interested in accessing a specific sponsor resource, they fill out a short registration form with their business contact information.
  • The sponsor receives the member’s contact information as a sales lead, connecting the organization with a qualified prospective buyer.
  • Sponsors pay a fee for each lead, which serves as a new revenue stream for your association and a way to fund other member programs.

Jeff Schottland, CEO of Lead Marvels, describes Resource Libraries as “game changers” for the associations his organization has partnered with.

“Not only does a digital Resource Library allow an association a way to offer its members access to more high-quality content,” says Schottland, “but a tech-enabled Resource Library platform can provide a dependable, recurring stream of monthly revenue that an association can use to fund other member programs.”

Case Study:

How the Association of Corporate Counsel Generated $1 Million in Non-Dues Revenue

How to launch a fully-managed, no-cost Resource Library

Associations can build their own customized interactive Resource Libraries if they have the expertise, resources, and funds. However, more than 100 associations have partnered with Lead Marvels to white-label and launch its Resource Library platform in just a matter of weeks.

There is no cost whatsoever to the association, and the Resource Library is hosted and fully managed by Lead Marvels, which can also manage the sales effort.

To learn more, visit Lead Marvels Associations or request a no-obligation demo about how the program works.

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