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4 Steps to a Sustainable Nondues Revenue Program - 10/15/2014 -


4 Steps to a Sustainable Nondues Revenue Program

You can think of numerous ways to increase your bottom line beyond member dues, but the best ideas are scalable and repeatable.

By DJ Muller

According to The Center for Association Leadership‘s most recent Operating Ratio Report, although membership dues remain the largest source of association profit, associations are actively seeking ways to increase their nondues revenue streams. Put simply, associations can no longer rely on membership dues, as member growth and retention challenge their success every day.

The key is to remain relevant, while at the same time keeping dues down and revenue up. Sounds tricky — however, there are several ways that publishing associations can design a sustainable nondues revenue program that increases the bottom line. Here are four steps to help you get started:

  1. Clearly communicate your offerings. Make sure to include information about your programs in new member packets and include statistics, quotes, and testimonials so that your newest members can envision themselves using the additional benefits that you are offering. In addition, take the time to target to your tenured members strategically. You can use your association management software to segment members and subsequently market specific non-dues programs to each target audience.

    Typical nondues revenue programs include event sponsorships; magazine and e-newsletter advertising; hosting conferences, seminars, and workshops; and exclusive members-only online advertising. If you are ever in need of new program ideas, conduct a survey to ask members what kinds of programs they would be interested in.

  2. Plan and distribute based on analytics. Once you have selected the types of nondues revenue programs that will create the most value for you and your members, design a communication plan that appeals to your target audience.

    Gather current data to identify your audience’s social demographics and check your web analytics and AMS system for information. This will help you identify which communication channels to use when spreading the word about your nondues programs. If you have the resources available, consider hiring someone to manage your program communications so that you avoid duplicating content and keep messaging consistent. If your staff simply does not have the time, sometimes it is better to outsource your nondues revenue efforts.

  3. Deliver on promised value. The single most important element is ensuring that you deliver on the value promise to those members who invest in your program. Make sure that your material is top quality, measure and track the savings or value participants receive on a regular basis, price the program right, always be grateful, and take the initiative to follow up with members regarding the perceived value of their program participation.

  4. Renew or rethink. Nondues revenue programs that are repeatable and scalable are generally more profitable in the long run. Each quarter, evaluate your nondues revenue programs to ensure that they are not only adding value for your members, but also that they are sustainable for your organization.

    Is the program meeting member needs? Are your members content with the value they are receiving? Is the programing losing money, breaking even, or increasing revenue? These are the types of questions that need to be answered when digging in and assessing the performance of each of your programs.

To continue creating value and enhancing the experience of your members, think outside the box and find new ways to generate revenue. Remember to use the information and resources that you have at your fingertips to create programs that appeal to the interests of your target audience. Take the time to measure and record the value that these programs deliver to your members, as well as your association. Nondues revenue programs provide nonprofit organizations with a great way to increase their bottom line as long as the necessary implementation and evaluation steps are put into place.

DJ Muller is president and founder of WebLink International. For more on how to grow your association with nondues revenue, download WebLink’s free eBook, 4 Easy Steps to Grow Your Association with Non-Dues Revenue.


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