Look to your members for new non-dues revenue stream ideas

Generating new ways to drive revenue can be challenging, especially with a small staff. 

Here are some tips for getting members involved in helping you come up with ideas for non-dues revenue generation. 


By Christine Bergeron, Marketing Coordinator, Community Brands



Membership dues are an important part of your association’s overall revenue stream. But what do you do when membership levels out or starts to dip? You could raise the price of membership fees, but that might turn off new and current members and lead to further drops in membership. 

Non-dues revenue can help. It can smooth out disruptions in the economic cycle and in your membership growth, allowing you to maintain budgets and continue to provide members with the levels of service they expect.  

Of course, coming up with new ways to drive revenue can be challenging – especially with a small staff. So, why not look to your members to help you generate non-dues revenue ideas? 

Brainstorming new non-dues revenue streams with your members
Many of your members will understand the challenges your organization faces as the economy fluctuates. And many – particularly your most loyal members – would be happy to help you come up with new ways to drive more non-dues revenue to keep your association going strong. 

Here are four ways to tap into your members’ creativity for new non-dues revenue ideas: 

1. Use surveys.
A great way to collect ideas from members is through surveys. If you keep surveys thorough, yet as brief as possible, they are an efficient way to prompt members to think about key questions and provide you their suggestions in a convenient format.

TIP: YourMembership association management software has built-in survey functionality, making it easy to create and send targeted surveys and get feedback.

2. Look to your online member community.
Your online community is an ideal way to connect with members where they are. Create a brainstorming discussion group and invite members to join in the conversation. Get the conversation started by asking some questions about your non-dues revenue generation challenges and find out what they have to say. 

TIP: YourMembership association management software includes online community functionality to help you set up a vibrant virtual community for your members. 

3. Call key members.
With a small staff, you don’t have time to talk one-to-one to a lot of members. But, consider calling a small number of those members who are most involved. Reaching out to them personally gives you a chance to talk through your organization’s goals around non-dues revenue and gives your top members a chance to contribute ideas directly to your staff.

4. Host a round table session or focus group.
Bring together some of your most loyal members (in-person, virtually, or in a hybrid setting) to talk through ideas for non-dues revenue generation. If you already host a regular focus group for general member feedback, consider setting aside a portion of the meeting to discuss non-dues revenue. 

What to ask members about non-dues revenue generation
Once you have a plan for how you will get feedback from members, turn your attention to how you will prompt them for feedback. Here are some ideas:

  • Give your members context for the discussion by providing them with an overview of why non-dues revenue is important to the ongoing financial health of your organization. Let them ask any questions before you begin brainstorming with them and asking them for feedback.
  • Offer up some questions to get the creative ideas flowing. Here are some questions you might ask:
    • What kinds of new association-branded merchandise would they be interested in purchasing through your association’s online store? If they haven’t purchased anything so far, why? (Give them examples of merchandise you already offer, such as T-shirts, office gadgets, and travel accessories.)
    • What types of educational products would make them want to buy? (Show them the products you offer today – such as continuing education courses and professional certifications – and ask what more they’d like to see.)
    • What types of career events would they be willing to pay for? (For example, would they pay to attend a virtual or in-person career fair? How much would they pay?)
    • Would they be willing to donate to the association? What would they need to know about the need for donations to make them want to give? And, how much would they be willing to donate each calendar year? 

TIP: YourMembership association management software includes e-commerce functionality to help you deliver a familiar online store experience. 

 Reviewing and incorporating feedback 

Be sure to review member feedback and incorporate it into your non-dues revenue generation plans. Here are some effective ways to put member feedback into action: 

  • Schedule a meeting with your team to go over the data and make recommendations on how you can incorporate member feedback into your programs and the marketing of your programs.
  • If you need more details, follow up with members. Just be mindful as to whether you think they’ll be open to additional contact from your organization.
  • Consider presenting members with your ideas for improvements and ask what they think. Then, let them know when you make changes that are a direct result of their feedback.

Learn more. 
Find out more about how to drive non-dues revenue for your association with an online store!


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