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March 28, 2018 Maximizing Non-Dues Revenue for Your Association Richard Green, Business Development Manager, North America

Maximizing Non-Dues Revenue for Your Association

For any business to stay successful it needs to diversify its revenue streams – and the same goes for your association. While membership dues continue to be the main source of revenue, this share has been shrinking over the past few years.

According to a report by the American Society for Association Executives (ASAE) membership fees represent less than 40% of total income. The other 60% comes from non-dues revenue.

There are two types of non-dues revenue: income earned from companies interested in reaching your community; and money made from charging members for additional services. The added bonus with the latter is you also increase your relevance and add value to your membership.

As well as providing much-needed funds, non-dues revenue provides a means for your association to give back to your members, and keep the cost of your dues down.

Despite the importance of non-dues income, an alarming number of associations remain unclear as to how they can tap into these new revenue streams. 

If this sounds familiar, then check out our top tips for maximizing your non-dues revenue. But before you dive in, there are a few things you need to consider:

  • Don’t forget, the most significant driver of non-dues revenue is member benefits: ask them what they want and how they want it
  • Evaluate your organization’s risk tolerance. Expanding a current service is fairly low risk, while introducing something totally new to your association is high risk (but also possibly the biggest earner)
  • Adopt a healthy balance of both internal and external non-dues revenue streams
  • At the heart of all your services should be education: people join associations to be informed, educated and supported as they progress in their career


Your members are highly-skilled professionals, which businesses will pay a premium to access. Sponsorship opportunities include events, webinars, awards, scholarships, videos/podcast and social posts. Just be careful to approach companies that fit with your values and offer your members a legitimate service.


You may think advertising is a dirty word, but it’s a savvy way to bring in extra revenue. There are a range of platforms where you can offer advertising space, from digital banners on emails or job boards, to promotional flyers and signage at events.

When it comes to advertising, it pays to keep an open mind to new ideas. A report by Avenue M Group in 2017 found that 49% of associations benefit from revenue from mobile app advertising, followed by social media advertising at 21%.

As above, you need to be careful when selling ad space ­– balance revenue generation with customer experience.

Career Centers

Position your association as the trusted source for professional development by creating an online career center. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to boost revenue as businesses will pay a premium to list their jobs on your website, which offers access to highly qualified, highly motivated candidates.        

You’ll need a career center with excellent SEO, that attracts advertising from the prominent employers, that enables effective targeting to surface relevant opportunities to the right jobseekers, offers advanced user-experience, a sales team dedicated to understanding your niche and much more. Take a look at your career center service right now and assess how good it really is. If you think there’s room for improvement then get in touch, we’d be happy to talk through options for improvement with you.

Monetize data

A growing number of associations are monetizing their data in the form of market intelligence, benchmarking data, data analytics and custom research. The same report by Avenue M Group found that:

  • 32% of respondents offer vendors research opportunities such as survey panels, focus groups or interviews with members
  • 25% get revenue from benchmarking data
  • 19% earn revenue from selling market intelligence or data analytics

Run Interactive and Fun Events

Significant revenue can be created by holding conferences, workshops, seminars, breakfast meetings and more. If you attract the right speakers you can charge for admission and offer discounts to members to make them feel valued.

In addition to running live events, why not make them available online? This can be a great source of passive income, as sessions can be available throughout the year.


Webinars are a cost effective way of offering valuable content that can be accessed from anywhere in the world, at any time of the day or night. Offer webinars as a freebie to members and for a fee to those outside your association. In addition to offering high ROI, webinars can position you as thought leaders within your industry – thereby offering greater value to your members and attracting new ones.


Print may be in decline, but according to the Association Publishing Survey, 88% of associations consider publications to be an important source of revenue. It’s not only provides advertising opportunities, but you can charge a subscription to non-members. A magazine is also a key marketing tool for your association by getting in front of potential members.

Courses and E-learning Platforms

The Online Learning Market is predicted to reach $325 billion by 2025. That could come in handy over the next few years… Your association, is perfectly positioned to grab a slice of the pie, as you have access to ambitious professionals looking to further their career.

Running an online courses board is another clever way to provide great value to your members but benefit from additional revenues from course providers looking to tap into your professional audience. Again, you’ll need a platform that has excellent SEO to attract the right course providers and course seekers with a sophisticated user journey that will allow you to convert the visitors you attract. You’ll also want an extensive list of revenue generating features to ensure you’re driving significant non-dues revenues.

If you’d like to know more about courses boards and the substantial opportunities they present, get in touch with our team of experts.

Premium Content

The internet provides pages and pages of free information, 24/7. The thing is, your members are busy professionals who don’t have time to wade through it all. Become their go-to source of information, by providing them with fast, digestible content. The key things you have to find out are: what information do they need and how do they want to get it? People will pay a premium for the right content.

Discounts and savings

Negotiate special discounts for your members, with relevant suppliers – from life insurance to your weekly shop. Depending on the type of vendor partnership you create, your association will earn fees for referrals, a percentage of sales, or revenue from advertising.


Who doesn’t love a branded t-shirt, bag or mug? Selling branded merchandise is a great way to connect with your members and foster feelings of loyalty.

Don’t just go for the obvious – think of what your members use in their business as well as their everyday life, and stick a logo on it.

For more advice on how to boost non-dues revenue and engage with your members get in touch with Madgex. 

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