Your Non-Dues Revenue Strategy
“Non-Dues Revenue” is a buzz word these days. Professional associations, and other not-for-profits, are trying to generate the revenue they require to meet their members’ expectations of programming, service, and growth while revenue streams, including membership, seem to be shrinking as the competition for people’s attention, loyalty, and engagement increases exponentially across all the given things an individual can be doing at any given time.
What are “non-dues revenue?”
Your organization is likely engaged in a number of these activities already whether they are innovative and successful, or not. Very few organizations can exist these days solely on membership dues.
Conferences, seminars, and workshops are an effective way to create value for members, attract new members, and raise the association’s profile, and the industry or profession it represents, while earning revenue from registration fees.
Sponsorship and advertising are also common types of non-dues revenue activities. Associations leverage their membership base to corporations seeking to raise their profile and engage with the association’s members.
Other common activities include selling online courses, trade shows, accreditation, books, consulting services, and research.
What your organization is doing is not as important as how strategically is it being done to maximize the return on investment for the association, and the value generated for the membership and other stakeholders.
If you don’t have a business plan, or your business model does not consider sustainability, risk, or how revenues support and further your mission, maybe it’s time to ask some critical questions to assess the current and future success and profitability of your revenue strategies.
For any development strategy, a Needs Analysis, Risk Assessment, and Competitive Analysis will help you accurately determine overall funding considerations such as organizational requirements, member needs and expectations, outcomes, rationales, benefits, criteria for success, resource allocation, sources of revenue, risks inherit in receiving and not having certain levels of funding, and frameworks for evaluation. These assessments will also help you determine the best course of action. For example, are you utilizing sponsorship opportunities to your best advantage? Do you understand the lifecycle of the options you choose to consider? Are you evaluating the impacts of your program(s) on all stakeholders, your industry, and your organization?
I don’t want it to sound complicated, or like too much work, but with good information, and a strong understanding of your organization’s capacity and propensity regarding revenue sources and needs, you will be able to strengthen your association’s strategic vision by being able to make effective investments of time energy and resources towards the revenue streams that best serve your members, your mission, and your capability for success.
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Client Newsletters.....to go High Tech or to go Old School?
We recently re-launched our client newsletter Boardwalk, which hit mailboxes in early February (not on our mailing list? Please send an email to email@example.com and we’d be happy to add you!). As part of this move, we debated the merits of a hard copy newsletter vs an email newsletter, and opted to go the ‘old school’ hard copy route for a number of reasons:
- More so than with an electronic newsletter, we feel the hard copy newsletter will give us better opportunity to show off our desktop publishing and design skills
- There are just so many e-newsletters out there…..we felt this might help to set us apart
- There was a personal preference from a majority of the staff for a hard copy vs e-newsletter….including myself, I often forego e-newsletters, however I will take a hard copy magazine or newsletter to read on the long commute home
- Given the pending anti-spamming legislation (Bill C-28) coming into effect in the near future, the requirements around email distribution vs hard copy distribution are much more onerous
- The hard copy format better accommodates for potential advertising
So, has the re-launch been a success? Hard to tell at this point, however we did have one newsletter recipient reach out to let us know that a particular article had resonated with him. The key elements we have looked to incorporate into this quarterly communication piece are as follows:
- Article(s) on issues of relevance to volunteers working with member-based industry associations (our last issue included an article on how to engage generation Y in volunteerism, board bullies, and the value of industry conferences)
- Book review – each issue will feature a review of a business book
- Volunteer recognition – the winter issue featured an interview with two Gen Y volunteers, as well as a profile of a student volunteer
- Alignment to the A+ brand
We’re excited for this new initiative and are thrilled to have another way to reach out to our clients and showcase our expertise.
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