close up of creative team sitting at table and holding hands on top of each other in office after coming to agreement on the importance of Non-dues revenue and revenue diversification

Non-Dues Revenue: Not About the Money

Non-dues revenue and revenue diversification are hot topics in the association world these days. For good reason – relying solely on membership dues, as many associations have done historically, is no longer a sustainable financial model. Conference attendance can be unpredictable, and many associations are still rebuilding and reimagining key events after the pandemic. Diversification of revenue is key to long-term stability and success…but how do you start?


First, any revenue source should align with your association’s mission and offer value to both members and partners. Efforts that are mismatched or one-sided will fall flat.


You must also assess your organization’s risk tolerance. Starting or expanding advertising in an existing publication won’t likely cost anything other than a little effort to find advertisers. Designing a new certification program will require more effort from both staff and volunteers, a much longer timeframe, as well as financial investment. In considering capacity, time, and resources, there is a broad spectrum of possibilities. You may need to start with some quick wins to build momentum toward long-term strategies.


Non-dues revenue isn’t just about money. Associations are always striving to increase engagement and relationships with their members. That’s exactly what most of your vendor partners want as well! Partners may be willing to pay a little to have their logo on a program – but will likely pay more to be involved in the program or present educational content. Take the time to get to know your partners and find out what is important to them, what their marketing goals are, and how they would evaluate success of a partnership. Consider their needs and expertise, and pair that with something that would add value for your members.

Diversifying revenue streams is not just about financial security; it’s about ensuring the long-term viability and impact of associations. By strengthening relationships, embracing innovation, and engaging partners, associations can unlock stability in an ever-changing landscape.

Picture of Amanda S. Bureau, CAE, CVA

Amanda S. Bureau, CAE, CVA

Amanda Bureau, CAE, CVA joined the RGI team in 2010. From membership and event planning to marketing, Amanda is an expert at solving new challenges with adaptability and ingenuity. She has a bachelor's degree from the University of Evansville and a Master of Education in college student affairs administration from the University of Georgia.

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