Diversifying Income: Innovative Association Revenue Streams



In the growing landscape of nonprofit organizations, associations constantly seek new and innovative ways to secure financial stability. The traditional models of membership dues and event fees are no longer sufficient to sustain the diverse range of activities these organizations undertake. This is where the concept of diversified income streams becomes vital. In this blog, we will explore some of the most innovative revenue streams that associations are currently tapping into, ensuring not only their financial health but also enhancing their value to members.

1. Digital Content and Online Learning

With the digital transformation, associations have a unique opportunity to monetize their expertise. By creating and selling online courses, webinars, and podcasts, they can reach a broader audience beyond their existing membership. Consider the American Marketing Association (AMA), which offers a range of online courses, symposiums and conferences, and certifications for its over 30,000 members. This not only generates revenue but also positions the AMA as a thought leader in the marketing field.

2. Corporate Partnerships and Sponsorships

Associations can develop strategic partnerships with corporations that align with their mission and values. These partnerships go beyond event sponsorship, encompassing joint research projects, co-branded publications, and more. The American Heart Association’s partnership with various health and fitness companies to promote heart-healthy lifestyles serves as a model. These partnerships often involve funding for the association in exchange for access to a dedicated audience.

3. Specialized Consulting Services

Associations possess a wealth of knowledge in their specific fields. Offering consulting services to both members and non-members can be a lucrative revenue stream. For instance, a technology association might provide consulting on the latest industry trends or cybersecurity best practices.

4. E-commerce and Merchandising

Selling branded merchandise is a straightforward way to generate additional income. This can range from books and industry reports to branded apparel. An excellent example is the National Audubon Society, which sells a variety of bird-related merchandise, from guides to apparel, tapping into their members’ passion.

5. Data and Research Sales

Associations gather a significant amount of industry-specific data. Selling this data or insights derived from it can be highly profitable. A real estate association selling detailed market analysis reports is a great example of this.

6. Membership Tier Systems

Introducing tiered membership levels with varying benefits allows associations to cater to different needs and budgets, encouraging upgrades. For example, a basic membership might include newsletters and web access, while premium members could get discounts on events and exclusive access-only content.

7. Event Monetization Beyond Attendance Fees

Hosting events is a traditional revenue stream, but there are ways to enhance this. Think virtual event access fees, event apps with sponsored content, or post-event access to recordings. A health association hosting a medical conference might offer a virtual attendance option at a reduced rate, simultaneously expanding its audience reach while generating revenue.

8. Crowdfunding and Donor-Driven Campaigns

Crowdfunding for specific projects or initiatives can both raise funds and increase member engagement. Platforms like Kickstarter have been used by associations to fund everything from community projects to the development of educational materials.

9. Rental Income

If an association owns a physical space, renting it out for events or meetings can be a significant revenue source. An association with a well-located office could rent its conference rooms to local businesses, and that kind of passive income is a great source of revenue outside of the traditional streams.

10. Royalties and Licensing

Licensing content, certifications, or even the association’s brand to third parties can generate ongoing revenue. A professional engineering association licensing a proprietary certification program to educational institutions is a great example of how licensing can bring in revenue.


Diversifying revenue streams is crucial for associations seeking financial stability and growth. By exploring innovative avenues like digital content, corporate partnerships, and specialized services, associations can not only ensure their financial health but also provide added value to their members and the broader community. These diversified income streams will play a pivotal role in the continued success and relevance of associations; for more information visit our Strategy Page or contact us!


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