Revenue Diversification for Associations



Updated By: Amelia Mazza

Diversifying your revenue comes in many shapes and sizes; that’s why associations are offsetting their revenue by adapting and putting additional emphasis on membership development. Here are four ways to diversify your association’s revenue.

How can associations diversify their revenue? To enhance association revenue through diversification strategies, you should prioritize a targeted membership recruitment program and streamline the renewal process.

You can foster membership commitment by emphasizing the association’s value throughout the year. Furthermore, exploring sponsorship opportunities at events and investing in sponsored research can drive non-dues revenue and bolster the association’s prominence. Leveraging these strategies, member engagement and new revenue streams can position associations for sustained financial growth.

1. Create a Very Intentional Membership Recruitment Program

Segment your membership prospects to ensure that your value proposition is specific and well-articulated to each segment. If you clearly outline your services and benefits based upon member segments, the result will be increased interest in your association. You’ll know your value proposition resonates with your member segments when you begin to see interested prospects seeking more of your content, interested in your events, and ultimately signing up to join.  

2. Improve your Membership Renewal Process 

Membership renewal is a lot more than a billing cycle. The best associations are emphasizing the benefits, services, and return on investment regarding membership at least 10 times a year in a variety of different formats such as webinar briefings about services, email campaigns, outreach, and calls to members from staff and volunteers about new programs that are available to them that might be helpful.  

The decision to renew is not made when an invoice arrives. It’s a compilation of factors such as how helpful the association has been throughout the year, how your association has supported their needs, and how your association has helped with their pain points throughout the year to display your association’s value and role in their success.  

3. Sponsorship Opportunities for Revenue Growth

Conversely, let’s flip the coin. If you primarily have a membership dues-based business model, you might need non-dues diversification. Buyers and sellers may need you to facilitate and provide branding, marketing, and business networking opportunities – even in a virtual format.

Every meeting or event is an opportunity for a company to sponsor. They want the ability to show their expertise and offerings and you can provide a platform to help them accomplish their goals. Along those lines, there are opportunities to provide thought leadership for webinars, podcasts, trade shows, and virtual events as a sponsor. 

4. Take Advantage of Sponsored Research

Another great form of revenue diversification is sponsored research. Did you know that one piece of content can lead to a massive increase in non-dues revenue? Two words… sponsored research.

The research can be about any topic that matters to your audience, but the best thing about sponsored research is that the benefits extend beyond the revenue opportunities. For example, this high-value content draws attention to your association through media, policymakers, non-members, and industry thought leaders. It also helps your brand through SEO, organic traffic, and media attention. 

Sponsored research also boosts both dues and non-dues revenue. For example, you might see an increase in membership sales from prospects who would like to receive the research at a member discount and even non-members wanting to purchase the reports. A variety of sponsorship commitments can also be offered with tiered levels. 

Through sponsored research, we grew revenue for one of our clients from $100,000 to $1.5  million in just five years. This huge increase in revenue allowed that association to generate more non-dues revenue, publish research reports that benefited all members, and fund other strategic research projects for the association itself, all while generating thought leadership and media attention.

These are just a few examples of ways you can diversify your association’s revenue. The key is to maintain the momentum and continually look for ways to grow your organization. Member recruitment, non-dues revenue generation, and sponsored research programs will help you kick-start your efforts. If you’d like expert help, reach out to us. Our team has been helping associations with revenue diversification for more than ten years. 


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