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YM Careers has assembled nine of the best sources of non-dues revenue to consider for your association. 

As defined for associations, non-dues revenue is considered revenue from any source other than membership fees. Generating non-dues revenue can help associations smooth out disruptions in the economic cycle, allowing them to maintain budgets and continue to provide members with the levels of service they expect.  

When you need to grow your association’s revenue, it doesn’t always make sense to raise the cost of membership dues. Doing so can turn off current and new members, leading to a drop in member recruitment and retention. And even if you do raise the cost of membership dues, it’s important to supplement membership revenue with non-dues revenue.

The power of non-dues revenue

For associations, non-dues revenue is revenue from sources other than membership fees. It’s a critical aspect of any association’s financial health.  

Like many associations, yours likely goes through periods of flat or declining memberships. Generating non-dues revenue can help smooth out those disruptions, allowing you to maintain your budget and continue to provide current and new members with the levels of service they expect. It also provides added revenue to help your organization continue to grow and thrive. 

The approaches you take to driving non-dues revenue depend on the nature of your association. There are many ways to generate additional revenue streams that align with your mission and your brand.

Get the Association’s Guide to Diversifying Non-Dues Revenue Streams

Read on for nine of the best sources of non-dues revenue to consider for your association:

1. Event sponsorships

Event sponsorship packages are a great way to drive non-dues revenue. Since your association likely already hosts multiple meetings and events, selling event sponsorships makes a lot of sense.

event sponsorship

Event sponsorships are often offered to corporate vendors with multiple levels of benefits and sponsorship fees. Event sponsorships generally fall into three buckets: 

  • Branding – These opportunities let sponsors display their logos to event attendees on signage, the event website, emails, videos, event slides, attendee gifts, and more.
  • Lead opportunities – With these opportunities, sponsors can collect sales leads through exhibitor booths, exhibitor appointments, sponsor demos that attendees sign up to view, and sponsor content downloads in which sponsors receive contact information from the downloads.
  • Networking – These opportunities give sponsors a way to get to know attendees. For example, the sponsor might be given tickets to a member event so that they can meet and greet attendees. This type of opportunity might be bundled with branding so that the sponsor logo is included on the networking event invitations and signage. 

You can build sponsorship opportunities within these three buckets. Packages may include a booth and signage at the tradeshow, advertising in conference materials, special presentation sessions, meals or entertainment sponsorships, and so on. Be sure to write a description of each opportunity and list the corresponding benefits so that you can effectively market them to potential sponsors. 

2. Annual association sponsorships

Beyond event sponsorships, you can develop annual sponsorships for generating non-dues revenue. By offering vendors integrated packages with year-round opportunities, you can give companies in your industry exposure to a targeted audience (your members) while giving your current and new members information about relevant products and services.  
These types of packages can include event sponsorships as well as other opportunities, such as: 

  • Advertising – Offer advertising opportunities, such as banner ads on your association’s website or various sizes of ads in your publications. You can also offer paid advertisements that displayed within your online community via text links, posts within groups, and in a quick announcement area. Then, use metrics such as number of online community logins to help you report to advertisers about how many impressions their ads have received.
  • Discount programs/benefits for members – Allow sponsors to offer special discounts to your members, which can be an added member benefit that can translate into improved retention rates for your association. For example, a sponsor might offer a discount off a service that members are likely to need. You can create a special web page for members to access the service, and add the sponsor’s logo, a description of the offer, and a link that points to the sponsor’s website to take advantage of the offer.
  • Sponsored content – Allow a company to sponsor your association’s content, such as a paper or study. Create a web page for the content, with the sponsor’s logo, company description, and website link on the page.  

3. Online career center sales

ASME Job Search

According to association industry research from Community Brands, help with career advancement is one of the primary reasons members join associations. It also continues to be a top member benefit once new members join. 
Offering an online career center that provides career resources and connects your members and other job seekers in your industry with employers who are hiring gives you multiple ways to increase revenue: 

  • Employers will pay to advertise job openings on your association’s job board to reach your membership base of skilled candidates.
  • Your online career center can help your association make connections with companies that might be good prospects for sponsorships and advertising packages.
  • Providing an online career growth destination will help to drive more new memberships and membership renewals. 

Beyond job postings, here are some ways to use your online career center to drive revenue: 

  • Offer employers the opportunity to promote their jobs on your home page, your Twitter feed, and Facebook page. Employers have no better way to promote their jobs to such a targeted group of qualified potential employees, and they will pay for that access.
  • Introduce a job email to your members. Employers are often willing to pay extra for this distribution of their jobs to additional potential candidates.
  • Include a job feed or widget in your member and prospective member e-newsletters with recently posted jobs that sponsors have paid extra to promote. 

4. Career events

Host career events for your current and new members and industry recruiters to meet face-to-face or virtually. These types of events are valuable to both employers and members. 
Employers value career events because they directly connect the employers to your members – a targeted group of professionals in the employers’ industry who are actively looking for a career change or new job.  
Members value career events because it gives them another way to connect with potential job opportunities and access career development resources. 
To generate revenue from your career fair, you can charge an attendance fee and sell sponsorships and booths to industry employers for the event. Consider incorporating a career fair at your next conference or meeting to help maximize attendance. 

5. Recruitment guides

recruitment guide


You can also drive more revenue by connecting your members with top employers within your industry through recruitment guides. These guides can be in print and/or digital format and can feature relevant career development articles and resources, advertisements from employers looking to hire your members, and advertisements for your association initiatives. 
These guides can drive incremental revenue as employers pay to advertise their open jobs in your guide and gain exposure to your members. You can also sell upgrades, such as premium placement, video ads (in digital guides), and color ads (in printed guides) to generate even more revenue. 
Recruitment guides offer your members an easy way to look through current opportunities from employers, or just browse the industry market. Not only will your members receive details on the latest opportunities, but they can also learn more about careerrelated topics, such as how to write a CV/résumé, tips for negotiating with recruiters, and information about salary trends, and more, allowing you to provide even more value to your members. 

6. Website and email banner advertising

Your association likely already has a website and sends email communications to members. So, start generating revenue quickly by selling banner advertisements for your website and email communications to give sponsors exposure to your membership base.  
Your website is an important tool for recruiting new members, so be sure to protect your professional image by selling ads only to companies that are relevant to your members. This approach will demonstrate your association’s prominence and viability in the industry, in turn attracting new members and keeping current members around longer.  

7. Educational content

career center LMS

Your members look to you for learning opportunities, including everything from continuing education to certifications. Here are some ways to optimize your learning program to drive revenue for your organization:

  • Take your in-person member learning events online. Extend your reach by offering content from your in-person learning events through an online experience. This approach offers several opportunities for generating non-dues revenue, including: 
    • Bring in revenue that you otherwise wouldn’t capture from members who are unable to attend your in-person events.
    • Stretch your investment in on-site content further by repurposing it online – through livestreaming your on-site event or offering it on-demand after the event.
    • Incorporate sponsors and exhibitors into the online experience – via online session sponsorships, sponsor logos, and a virtual exhibit hall – to generate additional revenue. 
  • Offer alternative learning products and packages. Offer your online content in various ways and price it differently for each option. For example: 
    • Provide an option in which online learners pay a single price for access to an unlimited number of courses over a specified period.
    • Offer various on-demand options for learners who are unable to attend live events and courses. For example, offer a per-course price, a track price, and a full-conference on-demand price.
    • Offer conference recordings as an add-on fee to live event registration for learners who want to re-visit content online in the future. 
  • Offer learning products through your association’s e-commerce store. Create a convenient shopping experience that allows current and new members to purchase your educational products through your online store. This approach gives your education program greater exposure to drive more sales. It also allows you to promote your learning program as a valuable member benefit to drive member acquisition. 

8. Affinity programs and discounts on services

Develop an affinity program to allow a select group of companies to market products or services directly to your members, with benefits members could not get anywhere else. Examples include wireless phone plans or branded credit cards. Your association can either charge a flat fee for vendors to join the program or receive a percentage of sales.   
You can also offer discounts on services sold directly to members. One service that is well-suited to membership associations is insurance. Your association can resell life, health, vision, or dental insurance to individual members while securing them a desirable group discount from the insurance carrier. Other examples of services are discounted tax preparation, financial planning, and travel.

9. Branded merchandising

You’ve probably seen examples of associations selling coffee mugs, T-shirts, or baseball caps with their logo. But really, there’s no limit when it comes to branded merchandising. Nearly anything you can think of can be branded for your association, so think outside the box for unique ideas that members will love. Make it easy for your current and new members to purchase these products by offering the items in your online store. 

Learn more

YM Careers offers job board software and career development solutions to help your association drive revenue. YM Careers is also part of the Community Brands connected network of software solutions for associations that can help your organization to attract, engage, and retain members while driving more revenue.

With YM Careers, your association’s career center can be backed by the world’s strongest recruitment ad sales team.

Associations see an average of 35% more revenue by taking advantage of our job posting sales team.

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