Membership organizations and associations make money by having members, right?
Of course! Member dues are a cornerstone of your revenue streams. But it’s never a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket. Just because membership dues are a big source of an organization’s overall revenue stream doesn’t mean it has to be the only source.
With non-dues revenue, you can diversify your revenue streams and invest in the longevity of your organization’s success. These extra money-making opportunities can help you grow your programming or keep your organization going when you hit a lull in renewals.
In this post, we’ll give you twelve non-dues revenue ideas you can test out for your org.
What is Non-Dues Revenue?
Non-dues revenue is money earned outside of the annual or monthly membership fees paid to an association or membership organization.
According to the ASAE Foundation’s Association Operating Ratio Report from 2017, dues used to make up most of an associations’ budget. Actually, in the 50s, dues generated more than 95% of revenue for organizations. Today, associations only get about 45% of their revenue from dues, relying on other income sources to top up budgets. So, non-dues revenue absolutely crucial for membership organizations who are looking to grow and thrive.
Why Associations Need Non-Dues Revenue
Non-dues revenue helps associations:
- Pay their staff
- Invest in software
- Run events
- Rent office space
- Reach new members
- Give back to the community
Non-dues revenue can also be scaled up and down for larger organizations and smaller associations, too.
12 Non-Dues Revenue Ideas to Try
There are tons of great ways to generate non-dues revenue and add extra value for your association’s members. Here are our best non-dues revenue ideas that actually work.
1. Sell Branded Merchandise
New and old members alike love to support their association and show them some love by wearing swag. You could sell:
- Or other useful or fun items!
Merch is an easy way to generate revenue while also creating a sense of community around your association.
Bonus: Some branded merchandise can be ordered in bulk at a lower cost. Depending on your organization, you may be able to get an extra discount from a salesperson as well!
Swag also is great for giveaways, raffles, contests and events.
2. Rent Out Your Office Space
If your association has any unused space, you can offer it up for rent during the day or after-hours rentals of your office for larger meetings or events. You could also rent out boardrooms to smaller companies who may need a space to bring their team together.
3. Ask Companies in Your Industry to Sponsor Your Organization
Corporate sponsorship is typically a financial or in-kind contribution given by a company to an association. In-kind contributions are non-monetary contributions that are donated to an association. They include goods, services, swag, gifts etc. Corporate sponsorships could come in the form of a general sponsor for the association or as a sponsorship of a specific event.
Companies could want to support your organization to get access to your members or to help promote themselves as aligned with your associations’ values or mission. Being associated with you also gets their products in front of your members’ eyes!
If your members are their exact target market, then that’s a great way for them to improve brand awareness within their main niche.
4. Use Online Banner Ads on Your Organization’s Website
Banner ads are a great way non-dues revenue idea for your organization. Because banner ads don’t need to be physically created, they’re really cost efficient, too.
Banner ads are online ads that sit at the top or side of a website. You can think of them as digital billboards. They primarily use visual images with some written words – or copy – to promote a company, product, event or specific item.
Check out our entire guide to banner ads for non-dues revenue to learn more.
5. Offer Ad Space in Your Organizations’ Newsletter
Ad space in newsletters looks a little different than other types of ads. Newsletter ads are often created to fit in with the rest of the content and tagged as “sponsored” portions of the newsletter.
Because they fit in naturally with the rest of the content, newsletter ad space is popular for companies to promote their own blog posts, media releases, reports or guides.
The sweet spot with newsletter ads and banner ads is to make sure that they don’t pull attention away from the resources that you’re trying to share with your own members.
6. Sell Flyer Space in Your New Member Welcome Packets
Welcome packets are a terrific way to make new members feel excited about joining your organization. You can share information, highlight the benefits of your organization and get info directly into their hands. Include branded swag, coupons and flyers for your associations’ resources. Who doesn’t love a good coupon?
Companies can provide you with resources to be placed into the kits and you can even charge a fee for you to include them. It’s a great way to earn some extra money for your organization – and coupons are a bonus for your members!
7. Offer Ad Space on Your Organization’s Mobile App
The average person spends about 3.5 hours on their phone in a single day. About 20% for phone users spend more than 4.5 hours a day. This time is spent playing games, browsing the news, chatting with friends and – you guessed it – exploring apps.
Mobile advertising is one of the best ways to get eyes on a company, product or brand. If your association has a mobile app, you can create an advertising opportunity on it that companies pay you to use.
8. Host a Job Board and Allow Employers to Post Job Openings
Having a job board on your association website lets your members find new opportunities — and creates a revenue opportunity for you.
Associations are the perfect source of potential employees for companies that are looking for specific skills, interests, or experience. You can earn extra revenue from your job board by allowing companies to pay a premium fee to get their job featured or highlighted at the top of the page.
9. Leverage Social Media Platforms
Sponsored posts and ads are a great source of digital advertising revenue. Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram can all be leveraged in their own way!
If you don’t want to open the world of social media advertising, you can leverage these platforms in other ways to help generate non-dues revenue:
- Connect with larger companies who could be potential sponsors for your association
- Promote events to help sell more tickets
- Allow online orders of your swag or goods
- Share ideas you are passionate about to connect with other leaders in your niche to grow your associations’ reach
- Create online communities to motivate your members to join in on upcoming events, fundraisers, or other activities
Fundraising and generating revenue can be easier the more people know about you and feel connected to you.
10. Host an Annual Conference
Annual conferences are a fantastic opportunity to:
- Gather industry leaders in one place
- Reflect on emerging or fading trends
- Anticipate what’s coming next in your space
They provide great value to current members, let you connect with potential new members, and build your position as a thought leader within your niche.
In addition to charging for attendance, associations can charge for exhibitor booth space—after all, access to your members is your most valuable asset!
You can even offer a la carte sponsorship opportunities, like educational sessions, coffee breaks, receptions, branded items, etc. All of these can help to generate non-dues revenue.
Annual conferences can be a big undertaking to plan and organize. We’ve put together a handy event planning guide to help get you started. Not quite ready to focus on in-person events? Virtual events or hybrid events help to keep everyone comfortable and healthy while still having fun.
11. Organize a Lunch and Learn
Lunch and learns bring members together to help them learn new skills. You can drive non-dues revenue with a lunch and learn event by:
- Selling tickets for attendees outside of your organization
- Providing sponsorship opportunities to outside companies
- Hosting an auction along with your lunch and learn
- Setting up a swag table and selling off some branded items
You could host the event yourself, have a sponsoring company do a presentation or invite a relevant industry specialist to come in and speak.
Lunch and learns can also be hosted online to keep costs down and maximize your revenue.
12. Offer Certifications and/or Accreditation Programs
With the job market becoming increasingly competitive, professionals in your industry want the best credentials after their name – and they’re willing to pay for it.
A good AMS will include an LMS – or Learning Management System – to help you create your own learning resources and content to share with your members. The goal of an LMS is to give your members a way to learn new skills, challenge themselves and become accredited with valuable certifications to help them advance their careers.
LMS’ can cover:
- Marketing courses
- Business certifications
- Writing classes
- Health and wellness training
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion courses
- Skill testing
Scalable and Easy Non-Dues Revenue Ideas for Any Association
Generating revenue can be challenging when you’re relying mainly on dues. Leaning on non-dues revenue will help to give your association the ability to do more for your members. These 12 ideas for generating association revenue outside of dues can be scaled up or down depending on the size of your association.
Got those non-dues revenue juices flowing?
See what other ideas we have in our free non-dues revenue guide!