March 10, 2016

The Tall Task of Generating Non-Dues Revenue

The Tall Task of Generating Non-Dues Revenue

Members. They make your association’s world go ‘round. For member-based organizations, members are their lifeline. An immense amount of effort is focused on recruiting, engagement, and retention. It’s logical enough - your organization wouldn’t make much sense without your members. That’s why you’re doing this, right?

It may seem like it, but membership dues aren’t the only revenue stream critical to your organization’s success. Many associations fail to see that they have the ability to generate substantial revenue through other initiatives. By thinking outside of the box and putting in a little effort, your association can see the benefits of these measures.


Members of your organization may attend several events during the year, but why not host one for them? This not only shows your commitment to engaging members, but can generate extra revenue.

  • Host a conference for your members. By doing this, these individuals have the opportunity to socialize with like-minds, share ideas, and get industry insight. Associations can utilize event registration, which can pay for the cost of the venue, food, and materials. In turn, your association can make a profit from these efforts.
  • If your association already hosts an annual meeting or conference, but doesn’t see a large return on investment, there are several ways to increase revenue:
    • Sell merchandise on-site
    • Host mini-events during the conference for an additional charge
    • Call for exhibitors
    • Sponsorships

Sponsorships & Advertisements

Advertising has always been a lucrative initiative and that is no different with associations. By offering sponsorships and advertising, associations can bring in additional revenue.

  • Many associations publish monthly, quarterly or annual newsletters which offer an opportunity to advertise. By publishing relevant advertisements, associations are not only publicizing information that can provide value to readers, but are also creating an additional revenue stream.
  • As technology continues to advance, it’s imperative to keep up with the ever-changing economic landscape. By offering website advertisements, associations are increasing revenue while driving site traffic.
  • Associations can offer advertising slots in their member directory to increase revenue. Since many members rely on these as a reference, many vendors will pay to have an ad in them.

Continuing Education Courses

For trade associations, offering continuing education courses not only promotes member engagement, but are also an opportunity to grow their revenue. Association executives can develop these courses with industry experts to deliver to members at an additional cost. Why not provide your members value and make a profit at the same time?


Online stores provide members with association swag. Whether it’s apparel, pens, magnets or coffee mugs, members love to sport their affiliation. Additionally, this can result in extra cash-flow for your organization.

It may seem impossible, but associations can generate additional revenue from various initiatives other than membership dues. If your association is interested in creating additional programs, be sure to rely on member data to understand what their interests are so you don’t waste time or effort.

To learn more about creating additional revenue streams for your organization, check out our white paper, "Growing Your Organization."