5 tips to increase non-dues revenue through member driven sponsorships

Your small team is juggling a lot right now from canceled or postponed events and struggling to find ways to make-up revenue. You might think it is hard to satisfy both your members and vendors needs to increase non-dues revenue, but it doesn’t have to be. I understand because I was in your shoes when I worked at a cybersecurity association. I was challenged in finding the right balance between offering members the right benefit and making our sponsors happy. The best way to start is by asking your team: ’how will this enhance the member experience?’.

Michelle Schweitz, YourMembership Marketing Manager

By Michelle Schweitz, Marketing Manager, Community Brands



Here are five tips to increase sponsorships by giving your members the benefits they need.

First, brainstorm ideas.

Chances are you already have existing benefits and marketing channels that could provide as a sponsorship opportunity. Start by offering opportunities your association already offers to members to streamline and get your sponsorship program off the ground. This is also a great time to be innovative and offer your members a new benefit that could increase your non-dues revenue. Here are some examples existing or new member benefits to use as sponsorships.

  • Webinars or virtual events
  • Magazine or member publication
  • Advertising through newsletters, eblasts, website or online community
  • Whitepapers or blogs
  • Industry information or research

Keeping your member (and benefits) in mind

Your members need continuing education resources, content, and industry information from your organization. According to the Community Brands Member Engagement study, seventy-nine percent of members rated targeted, valuable content an important benefit. The top ways to keep your members and their benefits top of mind are to make sure your sponsorship opportunities provide value or continuing education. Consider enabling your sponsors to provide thought-leadership content. Content can be a high impact and ROI option that allow the advertiser to have a more targeted message to their audience—highly targeted or exclusive opportunities.

There has also been a lot of talk on recent webinars that other small associations are spending lots of time looking for solutions to help their pain points of what they might be facing in their day to day jobs. For example, they have been frequently looking for suggestions to compare vendors for virtual events or learning management software to easily pick a software. This is the same for your members. Consider a go-to-source for information by creating a software solution discussion forum in your online community that allows vendors to pay for a product listing and comparison so that you can help elevate the stress of researching multiple vendors.

Remember your members don’t want to be a complete sales pitch though. Don’t continuously spam your members with emails or social media posts to buy products.

Sponsorship input

Don’t forget to survey your sponsors to get feedback on what they are looking for. This will balance out the members needs and sponsors needs to provide the best possible sponsorship. Surveying your sponsors helps make sure that every opportunity brings value to your association which is extremely helpful if you have difficulty getting buy-in or board approval for sponsorships.

A few important questions you might want to include in your survey include:

  • What is your goal of sponsorship? Leads, brand awareness, clicks to content, speaking slot or networking
  • What benefits are you looking to see that we don’t currently offer?
  • What benefits do you value most?

Provide a consistent member experience

To ensure that your members are provided with the best (and familiar) experience you will want to make sure you have full (or most control) over the sponsored activity. Your members are more likely to register for a webinar, download a whitepaper, read a blog or attend an event that has co-branded sponsorship and hosted by your organization. Keep the experience consistent across all sponsorships that you provide.

For example, if you host a virtual event use a PowerPoint intro slide that is branded to your organization with a separate sponsor slide each time. Show the sponsors logo on your website by the title and abstract. Another example includes put your sponsors logo on your registration page below a title and abstract.

Continue the conversation

Re-purposing content is a great way to streamline operations for small staff and volunteers. Provide your members content in different formats that will result in more sponsorship opportunities. This is a great opportunity to add to an existing sponsorship to provide more valuable content to your members.

Here are a few examples of re-purposing content to give the most to your members.

  • Webinar or virtual events
    • Add a blog opportunity by using your polls to turn into a blog after the webinar to share the latest trends from your members and what they are doing. Share a screen shot of the poll to add imagery or share the stats within the blog and link back to your on-demand webinar. Or add a blog of a few of the top takeaways from the event and add a call to action to download the on-demand webinar or sessions from your event.
    • Have the sponsor create a downloadable content such as a tip sheet or ebook that you host on your website. This allows you to look like the industry resource for best practices and tips and gives your sponsor move visibility to your members.
    • Offer a follow-up email as a sponsorship to send your repurposed content after the webinar or virtual event. Share your sponsors blog, tip sheet, or ebook in a post-webinar email. You could also include a logo, link and company description for the vendor within the email.

Are you looking for ways to easily create a sponsorship program to increase non-dues revenue? Here are six steps to start today. Download the tip sheet.

Additional resources to increase non-dues revenue:

Blog: How to increase your association’s non-dues revenue during a downturn
eBook: Small association’s guide for 8 great ways to generate non-dues revenue beyond membership dues

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