Here are five creative ideas to help your association generate additional revenue.
After the ups and downs over the past few years, you might be looking for creative ways to generate additional revenue for your association. Canceled or modified events, paused fundraising, delayed membership renewals, and even inflation might have impacted your association’s bottom line.
So, what can you do to drive new forms of revenue that keep your association going strong?
1. Offer sponsorships.
Selling sponsorships is a great way to drive more revenue. In-person event sponsorship and annual association sponsorship packages are the most common types of sponsorships. Take it a step further by hosting virtual or hybrid events, such as tradeshows for members who can’t travel to in-person events and offer sponsorships for those events as well. You can incorporate sponsorships into your live online events through rotating slides, a customized event interface, spotlight videos, and commercial breaks.
2. Help members develop their careers.
According to association industry research from Community Brands, career advancement is one of the primary reasons members join associations. It also continues to be a top member benefit once members join.
Whether it’s continuing education, industry best practices, or job opportunities, your association can help members with career development while driving revenue for your organization. For example:
- An online career center – Offer an online career center that provides career resources and connects your members and other job seekers in your industry with employers who are hiring. Turn your career center into a revenue-generating engine by charging employers to get their job opportunities in front of your members and other job seekers.
- Career events – Host career fairs and other career events that connect job seekers with recruiters in your industry. Charge employers a fee to attend, and also offer them sponsorship opportunities to get in front of more job seekers.
- Recruitment guides – Recruitment guides, which can be print and/or digital, connect your members with top employers within your industry. They also drive revenue by allowing employers to showcase their brand to your highly sought-after members through ads and company descriptions. They can also include relevant career development articles, helpful resources, and more.
3. Drive new revenue from publications.
Many associations’ publications are considered the go-to resource for information related to their industry. These publications are consistent touches throughout the year that reach a highly specialized and engaged audience. Of course, there are expenses involved in producing high-quality content. So, if your association sends out an e-newsletter or publishes a magazine, help support those publications by offering advertising opportunities.
Additionally, if your organization produces multiple publications, consider offering one publication as a benefit of membership and charging a fee for additional publications. Also consider placing a classified ad section in your publications to sell recruitment advertising.
Another idea: Offer sponsorship for any research you’re conducting. Companies will pay to expose their brand to your members. Drop their logo on the research, include a company description, offer a commentary section, and include their name in promotions as a partner.
Get the guide on diversifying association non-dues revenue streams.
4. Explore partnerships with vendors.
Create a new revenue stream by partnering with vendors that offer products and services your members are seeking. Earn fees for referrals, a percentage of sales, or advertising dollars, depending on the type of vendor partnership you create. Buyer’s guides, affinity programs, and discounts on services are great ways to explore vendor partnerships.
An online buyer’s guide is an extension of your brand; members can find vendors and products they’re looking for by visiting your association website. In this way, an affinity, or partner, program can be both a bonus of membership and a new stream of non-dues revenue for your association. The key to a successful affinity program is finding vendors with products your members truly value.
5. Put the power of email marketing to work.
Email marketing is one of the most effective large-scale forms of marketing for organizations. It’s great for delivering targeted messages with attractive offers that drive revenue. Here are some tips for optimizing your email marketing:
Offering a great mobile experience is simply a must-do these days; it’s all about reaching people in the way they want to be reached on the devices they prefer. Some tips for creating mobile-friendly content that gets results:
- Keep content short and to-the-point so that those reading content, researching, or shopping don’t have to scroll through lots of text.
- Consider navigational issues. For example, buttons and links should include clear and concise instructions that mobile users can quickly grasp.
- Ensure your content (including images) scales and displays correctly on mobile devices.
- Break content into bite-sized chunks, paragraphs bullet points, numbered lists and subheadings to enhance viewability on mobile devices.
- Use appropriate font sizes, optimize line spacing, and use high contrasting colors so it’s easy to read.
The main purpose of interactivity is to entertain the reader – promoting engagement and preventing them from turning away from your email before reading it all. Here are some interactive email elements to include:
- Animated buttons and calls-to-action
- Rollover effects to showcase product offerings
- Interactive image and product carousels controlled by the user
- Accordion features designed to make long-format emails more compact
- Surveys, polls, and user-generated interactive content
Community Brands research underscores the importance of personalization. In one association industry study, 65 percent of members say they are interested in personalization, with 79 percent saying it’s very or somewhat important that their organization provide targeted, valuable content. Be sure to include messages and information specific to things like your members’ interests, career stages, and interactions with your organization.
Use A/B testing
Optimize results from your email messages using A/B testing: Create two different versions of an email, and then send one to a subset of your list, and the other to a different subset of your list. Check after a couple of days to see which email performed better, and then send that email to the full list. Be sure to vary only one or two things in the email (such as the subject line or the image) so you can understand what element made the difference.