Beyond Membership Fees: Strategies for Generating Non-dues Revenue for Your Association 

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Membership fees are undoubtedly crucial for sustaining an association, but when it comes to long-term financial stability and growth, diversifying income streams is the name of the game.  

That’s where the concept of generating non-dues revenue comes into play. By leveraging various strategies such as sponsorship, partnerships, events, and more, your association can tap into new sources of income and unlock its full revenue potential. Below, we will explore the various revenue streams that can bring in more funds for your association. 

Sponsorship 

Sponsorship is a powerful and lucrative avenue for generating non-dues revenue for associations. It involves partnering with businesses, organizations, or individuals who are interested in associating their brand with your organization and its activities. 

There are various types of sponsorships that associations can explore, depending on their target audience, industry, and objectives. Here are a few common types of sponsorships: 

  • Event Sponsorships: Companies can sponsor association events such as conferences, workshops, seminars, or networking sessions. In return, sponsors gain visibility and exposure to a targeted audience of association members and attendees. 
  • Program or Initiative Sponsorships: Sponsors can support specific programs, initiatives, or projects run by the association. For example, a company might sponsor a mentorship program or a research project. This type of sponsorship helps the association fund and execute important initiatives while providing the sponsor with branding and recognition. 
  • Digital Sponsorships: With the rise of online platforms, associations can offer digital sponsorship opportunities, such as sponsored content, banner ads on their website, or inclusion in email newsletters. This allows sponsors to reach a targeted online audience and drive traffic to their websites or products. 
  • We will also dive into publications later in the blog as another way to attract sponsors. 

Pictured Above: the Sponsorship Marketing Council of Canada Sponsorship Marketing Awards, featuring their esteemed sponsors on signage.

We recommend researching companies or organizations that align with your association’s mission, values, and target audience. Look for businesses that may benefit from reaching your members or attendees. Start building the relationship by attending industry events, engaging with sponsors on social media, and reaching out personally to develop rapport and understand their specific needs. 

We also recommend developing a compelling sponsorship package that outlines the benefits and opportunities for sponsors. This package should clearly communicate the value proposition, sponsorship levels, and specific opportunities available. Be sure to also offer custom sponsorships in the package to ensure you don’t miss out on an opportunity! 

Did you know that we have an in-house graphic design team who has built and customized many sponsorship packages? Reach out if you need support! Pictured below are just a few of the sponsorship packages our team designed.

Once sponsorships are secured, fulfil the commitments outlined in the agreement. This includes showcasing sponsor brands, providing benefits, and maintaining regular communication to ensure the sponsor’s needs are met throughout the agreement. 

Partnerships & Collaborations 

Identifying potential partners and collaborators is a crucial step in building non-dues revenue for associations. When seeking partnerships, associations should look for organizations or individuals that share similar values, complementary expertise, and target the same or similar audience. 

Our two clients, Fertility Matters Canada and Canadian Fertility Show, formed a strategic partnership to boost visibility and promote each other’s offerings. Both clients have industry alignment, common purpose and mission, and unique resources that each can benefit from. A bonus is that they both outsource their operations to us so there’s more opportunities to collaborate and frequent lines of communication. It was a perfect fit!  

Here are some ways to leverage partnerships for revenue generation: 

  • Joint Marketing and Promotions: Collaborate with partners to create joint marketing campaigns that promote both organizations. This could include co-branded content, member discounts, cross-promotion of events, or joint advertising initiatives. 
  • Revenue-Sharing Arrangements: Explore revenue-sharing models where both partners benefit monetarily from joint initiatives. For example, if your association hosts a conference with a partner, you can share revenue from ticket sales or sponsorships. 
  • Resource Sharing: Pool resources with partners to reduce costs and increase revenue-generating opportunities. This could include shared facilities, equipment, or staff to deliver joint programs or events. 
  • Co-Creation of Products or Services: Develop new products or services in collaboration with partners that can be offered to association members. This could include joint certification programs, training courses, or industry reports. 
  • Sponsorship and Advertising Opportunities: Leverage partnerships to attract sponsors and advertisers who are interested in reaching a wider audience through joint initiatives or co-branded events. 

By identifying potential partners, building mutually beneficial relationships, and leveraging those partnerships for revenue generation, associations can tap into new sources of non-dues revenue while providing additional value to their members and stakeholders. 

Events & Conferences 

Hosting events and conferences is a popular revenue-generating strategy for associations. Successful events can generate revenue from ticket sales, sponsorships, advertising, and exhibitor fees. Strategies for maximizing event revenue include:

  • Sponsorship Opportunities: Develop sponsorship packages that offer varying levels of exposure and benefits to potential sponsors. Leverage digital channels such as social media and email newsletters to promote sponsorship opportunities. 
  • Registration Fees: Consider charging registration fees that cover the cost of attendance and offer additional benefits such as priority seating or access to exclusive content. 
  • Exhibitors and Vendors: Offer booths or exhibit space to industry vendors and businesses, charging fees for their participation. 
  • Advertising: Offer advertising opportunities such as banner ads or sponsored content on event materials such as websites, programs, and email promotions. 
  • Merchandising: Sell branded merchandise such as T-shirts or mugs related to the event, which can be an additional source of revenue. 

Pictured Above: the Decorators & Designers Association of Canada annual Awards Gala.

By hosting revenue-generating events and conferences, and implementing strategies to maximize revenue, associations can create valuable opportunities to generate non-dues revenue while providing value to members and stakeholders. Successful events can also enhance the association’s reputation and build brand awareness, further enhancing the association’s value proposition. 

Publications & Content Monetization 

Associations often produce publications such as newsletters, magazines, or research reports. Sponsors can have their brands featured in these publications, reaching a wider audience and gaining credibility through association affiliation. 

Sponsoring association publications often includes opportunities for sponsors to contribute thought leadership articles, case studies, or industry insights. This enables sponsors to showcase their expertise, share valuable knowledge, and position themselves as thought leaders within the industry. By providing valuable content to readers, sponsors can establish themselves as authorities and build trust with the association’s audience. 

Pictured below is a great example of content monetization. Our client, Fertility Matters Canada, designed sponsorship opportunities for their podcast, Fertility in Focus.

Certifications & Training Programs 

Developing certification programs can be a great way for associations to generate non-dues revenue. Certifications provide individuals with recognized credentials that validate their skills and expertise in a specific field. Associations can develop certification programs by following these steps: 

  • Identify Industry Needs: Conduct market research and engage with industry professionals to identify the skills and knowledge that employers and practitioners value. The certification program should address these needs and fill any gaps in the market. 
  • Content Development: Develop the curriculum and content for the certification program. This typically involves creating a body of knowledge, determining the required competencies, and developing study materials or courses. 
  • Assessment and Exam Design: Design a comprehensive assessment or exam that evaluates the candidates’ knowledge and skills. Ensure that the assessment is fair, reliable, and valid, and aligns with industry standards and best practices. 

Pictured Above: the Women in Nuclear Mentorship Program. Learn more here.

To effectively market and monetize certification programs, associations can consider the following strategies: 

  • Accreditation and Recognition: Seek accreditation and recognition from relevant industry bodies or accrediting organizations. This adds credibility to the certification program and enhances its market value. 
  • Value Proposition: Clearly communicate the value and benefits of the certification program to potential candidates. Highlight how the certification can enhance their career prospects, increase their earning potential, and differentiate them in the industry. 
  • Pricing and Payment Options: Determine the pricing structure for the certification program, considering factors such as the program’s value, market demand, and competitors’ pricing. Offer flexible payment options, such as installment plans or discounts for early registration, to attract more candidates. 
  • Partner with Employers: Collaborate with employers in the industry to create partnerships or sponsorship opportunities. Employers can support the certification program financially, promote it to their employees, and potentially provide job opportunities for certified individuals. 
  • Continuing Education: Develop a recertification or continuing education program to ensure that certified individuals maintain their expertise and knowledge. Offer additional courses or professional development opportunities, which can generate ongoing revenue.  

Grants 

Exploring grant opportunities can be another avenue for generating non-dues revenue for associations. Here are some steps to consider when exploring grant opportunities: 

  • Identify Relevant Grant Programs: Research and identify grant programs that align with your association’s mission and goals. Look for both government and private sector grants that support initiatives relevant to your field. 
  • Review Grant Requirements: Thoroughly review the grant requirements and eligibility criteria for each potential grant. Ensure that your association meets all the necessary criteria and can fulfill the obligations if the grant is awarded. 
  • Develop a Compelling Proposal: Craft a well-researched and compelling grant proposal that clearly outlines how your association will use the funds to achieve specific goals and create a positive impact. Tailor each proposal to address the specific requirements of the grant program. 
  • Follow Application Guidelines: Pay close attention to the application guidelines and deadlines provided by the grant program. Submit the application on time and include all the necessary supporting documents. 

By implementing these non-dues revenue strategies, your association can achieve financial stability, provide added value to members, and invest in new initiatives. 

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