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4 Ways to Grow Your Association’s Non-Dues Revenue

Capitalize on non-dues revenue to grow your membership value proposition, through sponsorships and advertising to professional education.

Non-dues revenue is any source of revenue other than membership dues. 

According to a recent AdBoom Advertising blog post, member dues only account for 39% of association revenue, the rest falls to non-dues revenue which takes many forms. If your association is not taking advantage of non-dues opportunities, consider re-orienting and ramping up. Not only will it take the pressure off your membership sales operation, but the increased revenue will give you the means to increase member services and facilitate member retention, the primary indicator of association health. 

This blog article explores four ways you can utilize and grow your non-dues revenue:

  1. Advertising
  2. Sponsorships
  3. Educational Opportunities
  4. Merchandising

In addition to revenue generation, these elements have the potential to engage vendors and other personnel outside the association audience, thereby increasing association recognition in the wider world, but the focus here is on revenue.


1) Advertising

While there are many different advertising formats available for associations to choose from, they have these common themes: 

  • The association audience is highly targeted, niche 
  • The disposable income of its personnel is higher than that of the average consumer. 

These are two characteristics that make associations highly desirable to advertisers. And associations that do not take maximum advantage of this opportunity are leaving money on the table. 

Here are some of the more popular advertising formats, but it’s worth noting that new advertising formats emerge all the time.  

  1. Magazine and newsletter print ads
  2. eNewsletters with ads
  3. Web ads
  4. Email blasts
  5. Membership directories with ads
  6. Buyers Guides in print and online 

The most successful associations recognize the value of combining formats into multimedia packages with the result that different formats help sell each other. The rewards are significant. 

 Member newsletter with a sponsor ad for 50% off a course


2) Sponsorships

There are all kinds of sponsorship opportunities available, yearly, seasonal, and attached to events. Individual sponsorships are more lucrative than single ads, and much easier to execute. In most cases, recognition by the placement of a logo in print or on a website is the only requirement. 

  • Annual Association Sponsorships 
  • Quarterly Association Sponsorships 

The different elements that make up a trade show can all attach sponsors. Here’s the lineup of trade show sponsorship opportunities from just one association: 

  • Welcome Reception 
  • Signage at Event 
  • Lunch Sponsorship 
  • Dinner Sponsorship 
  • Session Sponsorship
  • Delegate Bag Branding
  • Mobile App Banner Ad 

Virtually anything can take sponsorship and display a logo.  Each one is a recognition of the value of the association membership it reaches.  

Sponsorship tiers take names like Platinum, Gold, Silver with increasing combinations of elements bringing higher dollar amounts while providing visibility and value to the sponsor.

Welcome reception sign with sponsor logos


3) Educational Opportunities 

Associations build their credibility by becoming centers of learning and arbiters of excellence.  As such, they provide learning opportunities, courses and certifications. Each course in the catalog can attach charges, so can the learning materials associated with courses. Perceived value is tied to pricing, utilized through discounted member and standard non-member rates, which could entice a non-member to join.  

Implementing a learning management system provides your association with more opportunities to serve members, provide relevant education and generate non-dues revenue.



4) Merchandising  

The top ten merchandising sales items for 2022 according to Sellfy, include the following suitable for associations. Merchandising items serve a dual purpose: they generate income and advance the brand of the association.   

  • Branded t-shirts 
  • Hats 
  • Tote bags, laptop cases, or backpacks
  • Phone protectors and cases
  • Coffee mugs
  • Face masks  

You might introduce other items specific to your association as well. Showcase the branded merchandise through an online store with professional high-quality shots of the items. If you have a foundation, consider attaching donations to specific fundraising campaigns. Research the most efficient distribution methods. Promote the store on social media.



Non-Dues Revenue Sources are a Win-Win

Serve your members better by enlisting sources of non-dues revenue to complement their yearly payments. It’s one way to keep those payments from rising. The income you generate can be used to increase services and facilitate retention, one of the primary goals of every association. Non-dues revenue items also create awareness and promote the association brand. They’re a win-win proposition. 

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