Best-Kept Secrets to Growing Your Organization’s Non-Dues Revenue

Funding is always a concern for membership organizations. Amid our unsettled business landscape and an economy that’s in flux, it’s more important than ever to get serious about finding ways to bolster non-dues revenue. Fortunately, plenty of opportunities exist to generate revenue from members and non-members alike. From personalized online learning approaches to stepped-up donor efforts, innovative tactics are emerging as excellent revenue-producing options for professional associations. Read on for some clever ways to boost your organization’s non-dues revenue stream.


Get schooled in online learning.

Aside from its innate flexibility, growing non-dues revenue through online learning benefits your association by diversifying and strengthening income, and it benefits learners by giving them the ability to broaden their skills, expand their knowledge base, and update their credentials. To reap the best results and deliver real value to attendees, go beyond just offering online courses and strive to create personalized learning experiences. Interactivity, recall activities, and collaboration with other learners are just a few of the elements that are often missing in virtual learning. A benefit of online learning is the degree to which you’re able to personalize experiences to suit people’s specific professional development goals. Suggest learning paths based on individual progress and objectives and allow them to search and enroll in courses that may offer particular value. And don’t forget to get the word out about your fabulous course offerings. Think about the channels you can use to build awareness of your learning programs and use them strategically.


Tap into the power of events.

Events often represent the largest non-dues revenue-makers for associations. Conferences, for example, can provide several revenue streams, such as registration for attendees, exhibitor fees, merchandise sales, and sponsorships opportunities, to name a few. If your association is small or just starting out, hosting an all-out conference may be unrealistic, but don’t give up! Think outside the box to create compelling member events on a smaller scale, such as banquets, alumni mixers, galas, or special commemorative dinners. When executed properly, events like these can generate serious non-dues revenue.


Offer sponsored content.

Your organization can entice advertisers by producing quality podcasts or webinars, publications, research papers, surveys, social media posts, or virtual educational programs. It’s important that the sponsors are relevant to your members so they derive value from the ads and the advertisers see a tangible return on their investment. Another plus of sponsored content, whether print or digital, is that you control the final product. You can set limits on words, calls to action, URLs, company taglines, graphics, and logos. Be sure to package your various advertising opportunities to offer maximum appeal to sponsors.


Convert members into benefactors.

Where’s the best place to find donor prospects? Research suggests it’s your own member base. After all, these folks have already bought into your purpose, see your value, and support your mission. They’re on your side and want to see your organization or association succeed. But how do you move them to do more with their memberships and convert them into donors? Start by providing the right motivation. Let your members know how they’re helping the community and how they can do even more. Explain how your association’s programs are benefiting society and share stories and pictures of community events in which you participate. Take time to learn about your members, too. Understanding their unique interests is important when it comes time to develop the messaging for your donation requests. And don’t forget to tailor your gift requests. The last thing you want to do is overwhelm members with appeals for donations. That approach could backfire dramatically. Instead, include your constituents in campaigns that reflect their demographics and interests. Do they participate heavily in family-friendly offerings? Reach out regarding your educational programming campaign. Do they usually attend events in the evening? Invite them to the annual gala. Speaking to individual interests will strengthen your relationship and increase the odds that they’ll make the transition to philanthropy.

Membership dues alone are not enough to sustain and keep most associations afloat. If your organization has come to this realization, now is the time to get serious about identifying a diverse roster of alternative revenue streams. Done right, these efforts can deliver additional value to members while also generating much-needed revenue for your association.

We hope you found these revenue-generating ideas helpful. For additional resources or if you want to learn more about NiUG and the valuable member support we offer, please contact us at or call 570)243-8700.