As associations grapple with new challenges in a post-COVID world, one of the most pressing issues is the generation of non-dues revenues. With many conferences and events cancelled, and many industries facing membership questions due to job losses and small businesses closing, it is more important than ever to revisit your non-dues revenue strategy. Here are 5 tips from RGI’s Mary Ann Passi, CAE, on finding new revenue sources so your association can continue to meet its mission:
Canceled in-person events have left a void for those who need continuing education credit. Your association can respond by creating new virtual event opportunities. Evaluate what your members need and how to deliver those opportunities in a virtual environment. As you select a technology platform to offer these opportunities, consider the option of recording video of these events to offer later as well—expanding your opportunity to sell sponsorships and visibility packages beyond the day of the event.
Match content to member needs
The consumption of digital media has increased dramatically during the pandemic. Do you have members who are able to provide content about specific challenges your industry is facing? Are there supplier members who have pivoted to offer new products and services to help members adapt? Try to find ways to pair the content needed with the vendors who are offering solutions to create new mutually beneficial sponsorship and educational content opportunities. Sponsors may be more willing to step up if they know the audience will be comprised of the decision-makers they need to reach.
Continue recruitment efforts
Non-members are also looking for ways to get in front of their audiences—expand your existing opportunities to those who may not have been involved in the past. Many vendors, for example, have historically relied on trade shows and in-person events for sales opportunities; what can you create virtually to help them generate leads?
Be sensitive, but realistic
Understand the realities faced by your members – some are facing reduced budgets, staffing reductions, and other challenges. And remember that your association is a small business and must continue generating revenue to weather the pandemic. Focus on providing value to your members, and the rest will fall in line.
This is the time to try something new that your association may have been hesitant to try in the past. Don’t wait for it to be perfect – get creative!
As you look to new ways to generate non-dues revenue, remember the worst thing to do is nothing. Your members need your association more than ever. Focusing on their needs and matching that with revenue opportunities will ensure your association’s longevity even in the face of uncertainty.