Unearthing Revenue Streams for AMWA



The Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (www.amwa.net) is the nation’s only policy-making organization dedicated to municipal drinking water systems and suppliers. AMWA serves more than 175 utility members, each having more than 100,000 customers—the minimum number needed to join the association. These AMWA members also represent the water interests of more than 160 million people across the country.  

But with hundreds more nationwide prospects, AMWA’s membership pool is far from dry.

Yet, despite the opportunity to grow its membership base, AMWA CEO Tom Dobbins knew his sales pipeline had a partial clog in it. For several years, AMWA consistently added about four new members annually. For AMWA to meet future objectives, Dobbins needed the flow of new members to increase, but without a dedicated membership director on staff, he knew removing the sales pipeline clog would be a challenge…and a possible hairy one at that!

So, he called Big Red M.

 “I had worked with Big Red M previously at two of my other jobs and knew they did more than just craft a strategic plan and walk away,” said Tom. “I knew they were also experts who are relentless at executing the plan they collaborate on as well. I knew that’s what we needed.”

The New Membership Assistance

On February 3, 2023, Big Red M and AMWA kicked off their partnership with a Launch Meeting to bring everyone together to get on the same page to discuss goals, responsibilities, messaging, communication tactics, and action items. The Launch Meeting is a crucial first step in Big Red M’s process.  

Within days of the meeting, the AMWA membership campaign began with a mass marketing email to its prospects. With close collaboration from AMWA, Big Red M ensured the email spoke to municipal water departments directly and accurately described the benefits of joining the association. After sending it out, Big Red M’s Account Executive Alyssa Carlson, followed up with prospective members interested in learning more about AMWA. Over the next few weeks, Alyssa collaborated with AMWA to evaluate the best marketing topics for more emails and to write engaging content. These emails highlighted a variety of topics including the association’s recent activity, what policies it was monitoring, and promoting member benefits.

Through the membership campaign, Big Red M also introduced AMWA to the concept of a three-month trial period for new members. During the trial, and operating as an extension of AMWA staff, Alyssa actively engaged newly enrolled members to explain the association’s benefits and answer questions they may have. And as part of the Big Red M best-practice process, she continues to follow up with these new members to showcase AMWA’s value proposition and solidify the bond they have to the association.

The results? After five months, Big Red M enabled AMWA to surpass its typical new member average by enrolling seven water municipalities with two more possible members in the sales pipeline. Thanks to the new members, AMWA has realized more than $100,000 in profit—with six months remaining in 2023.

Said Tom, “What we are looking at is possibly surpassing the past five years of combined membership goals within a single calendar year.” Tom continued, “They (Big Red M) have a whole process for getting leads and completing the sale. This is not some sort of random thing. They truly know what they are doing.”

A New Revenue Stream: Sponsorships

Tom wants AMWA clients to feel like they are members of a prestigious club, eagerly engaging with AMWA for years to come. Seeing the quick success of the membership assistance campaign, he asked Big Red M to dive into a possible new revenue stream—sponsorships. Creating profitable sponsorship programs is a hallmark of Big Red M.

Tom asked Big Red M to leverage its expertise and find out what are AMWA’s most valuable benefits and the associated cost to start the sponsorship program. Less than a month after meeting to discuss the sponsorship campaign, Alyssa and her Big Red M colleagues turned on the new sponsorship faucet and within two short months generated more than $100,000 in additional revenue for AMWA.

Says Tom, “What Big Red M does isn’t magic. Their staff are experts in working with an association’s members and prospects. They do their homework and dig deep to help uncover the true value proposition. They take the time to understand the lingo, all the different parties involved, and the challenges we face as a national policy-referring association.”

What’s Next for AMWA?

The success of the two campaigns has Tom looking for more ways to leverage Big Red M’s expertise—possibly in innovative ways. Since Tom frequently travels the country, one possible avenue is to help him schedule visits and introduce him to potential members while he’s on the road.

“What I’m most impressed with is how hard Big Red M works to learn the industry and understand the challenges we face. That’s impressive.”

Says Alyssa, “AMWA is an ideal partner. I love working with them. They like to collaborate and actively keep the communication channels open for us. Tom and his staff are responsive to any questions we may have. You feel like everyone is on the same page and the same team.”

Does Your Association Need Help?

Does your association need assistance to achieve the next level of success? Big Red M offers 17 collaborative and consultative association program offerings to sustain growth and ensure efficient operations. As a relationship-based consultancy that strives to be an extension of your organization, Big Red M can adjust strategies and tactics to align with current and future areas of focus. We invite you to contact us and see how we can help. 


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