The following is a guest blog post from Chad Slager, Director of Sales for Directory Solutions.
For the past couple of years, a debate has been raging. Should associations charge dues? While I’m not going to weigh in on either side (that is a decision best made by individual associations on a per case basis), what does become even more important is alternate forms of non-dues revenue.
There was a great planning article posted in ASAE several years ago – and still very fitting today – that spoke to the business planning involved in creating non-dues revenue programs. The aim is to create a portfolio of opportunities that delivers both a sound return on investment and increases your members’ enjoyment of your offerings. As the article pointed out, it’s essential to offer “…services that members need (or will use) to be successful” and marry them with “…the flexibility to make internal organizational changes so their staffs are focused on providing value for member success.”
Launching any number of these programs requires planning, analysis and ultimately marketing. If you’re not telling your members and the community about your new offerings they are likely to fall flat. Enter this kind of time and cost calculation into deciding what works best for your association, your staff and your members. This is especially important when your non-dues revenue strategy includes selling sponsorships. Potential sponsors are looking for year-round value at a multitude of price points. If you’re not marketing the events they’re sponsoring, they won’t likely renew with you.
Buyer’s guides are also a popular way to increase non-dues revenue. You can approach this offering from either the member or supplier side. If your association is comprised of professionals who would be interested in one another’s services, a member-only buyer’s guide would work. If, however, there are vendors who would like to do business with your members, opening up a directory and charging these companies for exposure to your membership can be a very lucrative program. There is very little overhead on these directories if you choose to make them available online only (as opposed to printing them) and unlike print, the information can be updated as often as necessary. Online listings also offer quick category search features as well as SEO benefits for those listed with you. With an online buyer’s guide, not only do you create a recurring source of valuable non-dues revenue, your members receive the value of a directory of suppliers who support their association (you could even tie in a member discount program with these suppliers).
Whatever you decide is the most beneficial source of non-dues revenue for your association, planning and marketing are essential. You’ll find great peace of mind in finding revenue that is not directly tied to member dues but keep in mind, that your members should receive value from your decision as well.
Please feel free to leave a comment for me about how your association is meeting the challenge of non-dues revenue programs.
As the Director of Sales with Directory Solutions, Chad helps member-centric organizations tap into non-dues revenue. Chad came to YourMembership.com from the financial services industry and is a graduate of the Florida State University, holding a B.S. in Interdisciplinary Social Science. He is constantly on the hunt for the ever-elusive “free time”, confident that one day he’ll find some.