Top 10 Ways Associations Generate Non-Dues Revenue



Non-dues revenue is all your association’s earnings that are not membership dues. Member-based organizations often rely on non-dues revenue to support their operations, fund initiatives, and provide valuable resources and benefits to their members. Non-dues revenue is critical to an association’s financial success but requires candid conversations with staff, members, and current sponsors.

According to the ASAE, member dues account for around 30% of an association’s income. This provides an opportunity for associations to consider innovative and competitive approaches to generate the remaining 70% of revenue. In this blog, we’ll explore the top 10 tips to help membership associations find the best non-dues revenue mix for associations of all sizes.

1. Evaluate current data on member needs and interests:

To generate non-dues revenue ideas, it is important for associations to collect current member data and include diverse groups in the analysis.  The goal is to understand what is valued most so you can develop revenue opportunities that cater to their specific requirements.

So how do you collect member data that indicates what they value? One way is to send out regular surveys. Another way is to speak with your customer-facing staff to learn what members are saying in conversations. You can also check social media in relevant groups (including your own community) to find out what topics are trending.

2. Explore corporate partnerships and sponsorships:

Building partnerships with relevant businesses and organizations can be an excellent way to generate non-dues revenue. Business partnerships can lead to recurring non-dues revenue through sponsorships for your events, conferences, or webinars. An ideal sponsorship opportunity meets multiple goals; it benefits the sponsor by introducing their product or services to your member base, and it benefits your members through your collaboration with companies that align with your association’s mission and can provide valuable resources or services to them.

3. Monetize publications and resources:

If your association produces trade journals, magazines, or research papers, consider monetizing them. Offer subscriptions, sell advertising space, or create premium content packages. Additionally, explore opportunities to turn your valuable resources into digital products, such as e-books or online toolkits. 

Big Red M’s sponsored research is an example of a low-lift program that associations can leverage to boost non-dues revenue.

4. Launch a career center:

Create a job board or career center exclusively for your members. Companies seeking professionals within your industry can pay to post job openings. This provides a valuable service to both employers, who get a wider net of potential talent, and members, who have potential networking opportunities, while also generating revenue for your association.

5. Host industry conferences and events:

Conferences and events offer great potential for non-dues revenue. One example is an annual conference that brings together industry professionals, thought leaders, and experts. Offer sponsorship packages, exhibition booths, and networking opportunities to companies within your industry. This not only generates revenue but also increases visibility and enhances member engagement.

6. Develop continuing education programs:

Members often seek opportunities for professional development and continuing education. Design and offer certification programs, webinars, workshops, or online courses. By providing valuable educational content, you not only generate revenue but also enhance the professional growth of your members.

7. Leverage social media and online platforms:

In today’s digital age, social media and online platforms offer numerous revenue opportunities. You could explore advertising or affiliate marketing partnerships on your social platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, or Youtube. You could also consider offering premium content or a member-exclusive section on your association’s website or social media. This could include in-depth industry reports, expert interviews, or specialized training materials. 

8. Explore e-commerce opportunities:

Consider selling merchandise, branded products, or association-related items through an online store. Conducting a member survey to explore what members are interested in will save money in the long term as creating branded merchandise can have a large up-front cost. Members and supporters can purchase these items, generating additional revenue while promoting your association’s brand. 

9. Offer member discounts and benefits:

Affinity programs are a great way to generate non-dues revenue. An affinity program is a partnership with a business that gives exclusive discounts, access, or rates to your members. The key is to partner with trusted businesses whose products or services are relevant to your members. Affinity partnerships generate non-dues revenue when members purchase and associations receive a portion of the transaction according to an agreed-upon revenue-sharing percentage. These partnerships can provide a win-win situation for all parties involved.

10. Sell advertising in your new member welcome packets:

Another advertising opportunity you can offer business partners is the option to include a flyer, business card, or collateral materials in your new member welcome packets. New members usually like to read through the welcome packet to get relevant information, which means the advertisements can generate to views and potential business for advertisers.

These are ten of the most popular ways associations can generate non-dues revenue. We’d love to hear your own ideas to add to our next list. And if you need help with any of these initiatives, our team of consultants is ready to help your association grow both dues and non-dues revenue. 


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