Non-dues revenue is something ALL associations try to produce. But how they go about producing that non-dues revenue, well, it varies. What works well for some associations may not work well for others.

So how can you create a non-dues revenue strategy that’s going to work well for your association? When drafting a plan, consider the following questions:

1. How much will it cost me?

The whole point of non-dues revenue is to generate a profit. Sure, sometimes it takes money to make money, but the money you make should always be greater than the money it takes.

When putting together a non-dues revenue strategy, start by highlighting the amount of money you’re willing and able to spend. If your budget is low, perhaps you’ll want to start with something simple, such as a social media advertising kit or a tiered sponsorship package. On the flip side, if your budget is fairly high (or just higher), perhaps you can afford to host a big event or create/sell some unique association-branded merchandise.

Budget will nearly always dictate next steps, so never skip over this question. Consider this your non-dues revenue starting place.

2. Will my members find it valuable?

When it comes to non-dues revenue, value dictates success. You may love your non-dues revenue idea, but if your members and vendors don’t – and it’s not something they’d be willing to pay for – then ultimately, you’re going to lose money (and time), rather than gaining a profit.

So how do you know if your members are going to find something valuable or not? Ask! Send out a survey with a few non-dues revenue ideas to see which options they’d be interested in/willing to pay for. (And do this BEFORE you start any major planning.) This will let you know in advance if you’re on the right path or need to switch gears.

3. Who will do the work?

You may have the best non-dues revenue idea out there, and even the budget to support that idea, but if you don’t have the manpower needed to execute that idea, then it’s ultimately a no-go.

Now we don’t say this to discourage you. We only say this to prevent you from getting in too deep over your head. (The last thing you want – and need – is to drown in what should be a helpful and productive project.)

That said, if you really want to execute your non-dues revenue idea now – even if manpower is a little slim – try scaling it down a bit. Can you break that idea into pieces? Can you try it out on a smaller scale? If you have your heart set on a lunch and learn, but your budget doesn’t currently permit, could you make that a virtual event instead? Don’t get discouraged, but do know what’s feasible so that you’re setting yourself (and your association, by extension) up for success.  

Want more tips for creating a non-dues revenue strategy at your association (plus a few concrete ideas to try out)? Check out our free non-dues revenue guide below!