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Have you tried these non-dues revenue strategies?

June 24th, 2015 Posted in Fundraising

It’s no mystery: associations today can no longer depend solely on membership dues to fund their operations. But when it comes to generating non-dues revenue, where do you even begin?

This recent blog article reveals six promising non-dues revenue sources that can help your organization cover costs more comfortably, add value to your membership, and attract and engage new members. You’ll see:

  • The advantages—and the potential pitfalls—of certain activities.
  • What you need to know to get the maximum return on each endeavor.
  • The key factors to consider before you pursue any alternative revenue source.

If you’re looking to boost your bottom line through non-dues revenue streams, the time to explore your options is now.


Boost Bottom Line and Member Value with Non-Dues Revenue

By    4.2.15

Non-dues revenue. It’s become sort of the Holy Grail of associations – valuable and much sought-after, but also a bit mythical.

What’s not mysterious, though, is the fact that associations can no longer simply rely on membership dues to cover costs, add member value, and sustain growth. So, if you’re not generating any revenue beyond member dues and annual meeting fees, the time to explore your options is NOW.

A cautionary word: Make sure your legal team is part of your decision-making process, as they can help you understand the effect non-dues revenue may have on your UBIT (Unrelated Business Income Tax) responsibility and how it could impact your nonprofit status.

We’ve compiled a list of eight potential non-dues revenue sources to consider …

  1. Affinity Programs

As an association, you can be compensated for licensing intellectual or intangible property based on your “affinity” with the vendor.

Besides boosting your income, affinity programs can give your members unique access to products and services such as credit cards, discount travel, and insurance; and can even enhance their reputation and spread brand awareness without requiring you to take any risks or spend money marketing and merchandising directly.

For an affinity program to be truly successful, it has to benefit both your members and your association. Even the most wonderful, valuable offering may cost you 10 times more to manage than you get back in compensation.

  1. Corporate Sponsorships  

A corporate sponsorship is basically an agreement between a business and an association to raise money for a particular cause. For example, corporate sponsors can fund scholarships or underwrite event costs.

Before you hit the pavement in search of potential sponsorships, you need to do some groundwork. First, determine what marketable assets you have that are most interesting to corporations. Then, package them properly to tell a compelling story about your association. Sponsorship packages will carry extra weight if they include testimonials from corporate executives about the value of your organization. Finally, make sure you communicate what sponsors will get in return, like communications to members and access opportunities. Assign a dollar value if at all possible.

  1. Credentialing

Professional credentials can give your members a strong competitive edge in the marketplace and it can give you recurring revenue with annual re-certifications.

However, some sectors have been overrun by very competitive sites offering cheap, and sometimes free, education opportunities. To compete, you need to offer your members more than just a piece of paper. Develop a meaningful program, and then heavily promote it in the marketplace, so members see your credentials as absolutely necessary to further their careers.

  1. Continuing Education

Offer a library of thought leadership materials, like industry-related books and whitepapers, for sale on your website, exclusively for members.

  1. Ad Sales

If you have an active online community, consider selling ad space on the platform. You’ll want to tread lightly with this one, though, because you don’t want your membership to feel taken advantage of.

  1. Rental Space

Don’t allow space in any of your properties go underutilized or unoccupied. Leasing office or warehouse space can be a great moneymaker.

  1. Parking Lot

If you regularly operate a parking lot for use by the general public in exchange for parking fees, these fees would not be treated as rent from real property and would likely be subject to UBIT. However, if you lease the lot to a vendor who operates it on your behalf, the lease payments would constitute rent on real property and would not be subject to UBIT. This is one of those instances where you legal team will need to be involved.

  1. Job Bank

Invite industry-related employers to post their jobs on your website or online community for a fee.

So what’s the best alternative revenue source? That’s a question you have to ask yourself, and your answer should be founded in your members’ greatest needs. Also, consider the financial risk and the investment in resources (including time) required. Make sure the new revenue source aligns with your strategic plan. And, ask yourself if your members will support a new endeavor.

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