Finding the Best Non-Dues Revenue Mix for Your Association – Advice for Associations to Succeed in 2020



Every week I speak with associations about non-dues revenue opportunities. There are many options ranging from annual conferences, webinars, magazine ads, podcasts, and more. The question we help answer is, “What is the right mix for my association?”
We start each conversation with three questions that help us look at the opportunity at hand from different angles:

  1. What do your members want and need?
  2. How would these programs benefit your associations?
  3. What is the value of this partnership for your sponsors?

And these are some of the replies I have heard over the years:

“Twenty years ago, we had a sponsor come to our event and he harassed everyone for the next two days, so our board will never allow us to have sponsors again.”

“Our members have champagne and caviar tastes for our Annual Meeting, but they don’t want to pay more than $500 in registration fees.”

“The sponsors say they were a platinum sponsor of an event but they weren’t allowed to interact with the members and all they received was a banner with their logo on it for $10,000.”

These are all examples of how a sponsorship program can benefit one or maybe two of the necessary groups, but not all three. If you really want to transform this aspect of your association, it will require candid conversations with staff, membership, and your current sponsors.
An ideal sponsorship opportunity meets multiple goals. Are your current programs benefiting all three or only one stakeholder?

“Gone are the days (if they ever existed) of money coming into an association simply for logo placement. Sponsors now want to share their voice and have their expertise appreciated by the association.” – Association Laboratory, Strategic Partnership and Fundraising White Paper, 2013.
Are ready for a conversation about how to transform your non-dues revenue program? Let’s chat!


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About the Author

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas, a business development professional with more than 20 years of association and media experience, leads the winning sales team at Big Red M. With his expertise in sales training, he’s developed the very best talent in the association space. 
His staff breaks sales goals generating hundreds of thousands of dollars on behalf of our client partners year after year. With a seasoned understanding of what drives association prospects, Mike excels at creating client strategies tailored to the needs of their organization – and, effectively sets goals not only to meet, but surpass expectations.
 Mike is a graduate of the University of Southern California – Marshall School of Business.


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