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Why More Non-dues Revenue Translates to More Value For Your Members

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For associations everywhere non-dues revenue is a vital part of a comprehensive strategy for staying strong. Because we know that exploring every avenue possible for growing outside sources of funding is so important, we wrote “How Non-dues Revenue Can Grow Associations.” It’ll show you the many options available to not only monetize many of the activities you’re already carrying out, but to also provide more value for members and exhibitors in the process.

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Why More Non-dues Revenue Translates to More Value For Your Members

  1. 1. Written By: Shawn Smajstrla Senior Content Specialist © 2016 MultiView. All Rights nondues revenue Reserved. How Non-Dues Revenue Can Grow Associations Despite their nonprofit status, associations – just like any business – require revenue to operate. Traditionally, dues paid by members constituted the operating capital for associations. Increasingly, though, non-dues revenue has become an important and necessary means of supplementing an organization’s dues income to allow it to fulfill its mission.
  2. 2. © 2016 MultiView. All Rights Reserved. 7© 2016 MultiView. All Rights Reserved. 2 As operating costs increase, the concern to reach for your members’ pocketbooks follows. Members want value from their association investment, and dues increases can be a fast path to retention failure. According to MGI’s 2015 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, 22 percent of associations raise dues annually, while the majority (57 percent) claim to raise dues “as needed.” In order to continue serving members while steering clear of overtaxing them, non-dues revenues have become a vital function of associations. According to ASAE’s Operating Ratio Report, associations rely most heavily on meeting and convention registration fees, exhibit and tradeshow booth fees and educational program fees. But as business becomes ever more digital, new avenues for collecting non-dues revenue emerge. The associations that take advantage of these opportunities can add cash to the coffers while alleviating the burden on members. . B2B Connected. How Non-Dues Revenue Can Grow Associations Research conducted by MGI in 2011 found a dues increase under 20 percent had negligible impact on renewal rates, but most members have a threshold and any association will want to avoid crossing it. The 2015 benchmarking report further found 15 percent of lapsed members chose not to renew because it was “too expensive.” Even better, a lot of potential digital non-dues revenue is available without excessive extra work from association staff, and plenty of this revenue potential lies in activities your association is already performing. Here are some to consider and explore. 22%of associations raise dues annually
  3. 3. © 2016 MultiView. All Rights Reserved. 3 Newsletters and Email Members are, of course, an association’s most important component. Those members are also one of, if not the organization’s most valuable asset. Among other things, they represent a highly defined target market that suppliers and business marketers want to tap. Chances are you already maintain regular communications with your membership, likely in the form of email. These emails offer prime advertising real estate that can foster regular non-dues income. A HubSpot benchmark report found 64.6 percent of B2B media companies monetize email through banner ads and newsletter sponsorship. More than 56 percent use sponsored content or native advertising, and digital publishers overwhelmingly expected that to be the particular revenue stream to increase most in value moving forward. Display ads and sponsored content are both simple, yet highly effective ways to draw non-dues revenue streams from the email communications you’re already sending. Initially, you might be concerned that putting third-party ads in front of your readers could bother them. Reality is that today’s digital consumers are accustomed to seeing advertising. In fact, estimates on how many ads a person sees each day range from over 200 to 5,000 (the large variation likely caused by a differentiation on paid ads versus logos/brands, etc.). Most importantly in the case of association newsletters is that the advertising is highly relevant to its audience. Unlike unsolicited consumer ads, B2B marketing connects buyers and sellers. A digital newsletter with relevant advertising actually functions as an extension of the industry marketplace. Another option for using your member list to draw revenue is sponsored blasts. This approach might be considered a little more invasive for members, but it also represents the opportunity to charge a premium for direct access to all your members. Paid advertising blasts should be approached strategically. Avoid passing the saturation point with them to prevent alienating members and diluting the ROI for advertisers. You should also carefully decide how to approach them. You’ll want readers to easily recognize the email is coming from a trusted source and that the association is working with the advertiser. If you aren’t careful, members could get the impression you’ve sold your email list to a marketer, which is NOT the same thing as a sponsored mailing, and that could lead to a data privacy discussion you probably don’t want to have with valuable members. B2B Connected. How Non-Dues Revenue Can Grow Associations “Associations tend to be a little reluctant in integrating advertising opportunities into their digital member communication pieces. But if done correctly, it could be an excellent source of non-dues revenue,” said Colby Horton, MultiView’s executive vice president, publishing. “Content should still be king within your email newsletters, but adding a couple non-intrusive, relevant ad spaces can be a benefit for your association, members and supplier members. In fact, adding advertisements from industry suppliers could possibly add additional credibility to your newsletters – major players in the industry showing support for your association and its communication vehicles.”
  4. 4. © 2016 MultiView. All Rights Reserved. 4 Website The majority of interactions members have with your association begin with your website. Your homepage is your membership storefront. Think about other storefronts you frequent. If you go to a sporting goods store, it’s not unlikely to see something promotional from the likes of Nike orUnder Armour greeting you in the windows. In a similar manner, you have spaces on your website – your digital storefront – that can be utilized for drawing revenue. You certainly don’t want to slather it like a NASCAR, but strategic ad placements can be valuable to the association, advertiser and visitors. You can offer advertisers further targeting and additional pricing options by segmenting ads within the different sections and subpages of your website. Consider this like the promotional displays inside grocery stores. They’re not in the storefront window, but strategically placed to draw attention once shoppers are in the door. Advertisers gain more than exposure by appearing on your website – they gain credibility, considering you’re an authority in your industry. There’s an inherent prestige in appearing as an official sponsor or partner of an association. If done well, paid advertising on your website can appear seamless and not tacky or distracting. B2B Connected. How Non-Dues Revenue Can Grow Associations Another option for non-dues revenue from your website is a job board or career center. It makes sense that your website could serve as an employment marketplace focused on your industry. The talent wars are raging,and businesses are looking for the kinds of employees that make up your membership. Paid listings and featured listings offer opportunities for revenue while offering a refined job board far removed from those massive, cluttered catch-all sites.
  5. 5. © 2016 MultiView. All Rights Reserved. 5 B2B Connected. How Non-Dues Revenue Can Grow Associations “We wanted a way to help our members and other prospective buyers source products and connect with our industry suppliers year-round,” Krissy Doyle, Manager of Member and Data Servicesat SAF, said. “MultiView’s state-of-the-art online directory platform enables us to do that, offering advertisers a wide range of opportunities to gain visibility while providing an extremely user-friendly experience for our members and other floral industry professionals.” Buyers Guide As an authority in your industry, a guide that connects buyers and suppliers makes total sense. It also makes money. Sellers want to be where their buyers are, and a directory specific to their industry is a no-brainer. Digital versions of buyers or sellers guides have multiple advantages over printed books or lists. In addition to cost savings from a lack of printing, listings can be easily and frequently updated and can be searchable. The guides can be enhanced by offering more than a simple list of companies. Featured listings can bring a premium ad rate, and there are also opportunities for other enrichments like custom of featured content, which of course can also be sold for marketing. One important thing to consider is that in today’s digital business environment, mobile technology plays an increasing role. Your guide should be optimized for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets to make it useful for the active and busy user. Putting all this technology into action might be beyond the reach of many small-staff associations, and fortunately, third-party vendors exist to help associations implement and maintain such guides. The Society of American Florists, for example, turned to MultiView to facilitate its buyers guide.
  6. 6. © 2016 MultiView. All Rights Reserved. 6 Webinars and Education Among the primary reasons professionals join associations and membership organizations is continuing education. A recent Pew Research Center study found 73 percent of adults consider themselves lifelong learners. The same report noted 63 percent of working adults are “professional learners,” meaning they “have taken a course or gotten additional training in the past 12 months to improve their job skills or expertise connected to career advancement.” This is great news for associations. Not only can membership organizations foster and provide some of this professional learning, they can generate revenue from it. The internet and the proliferation of digital meeting software have afforded associations a highly useful tool for conducting education initiatives. No longer restricted to place-based learning, online courses and webinars offer education coupled with convenience. They also offer avenues for sponsorship dollars. B2B Connected. How Non-Dues Revenue Can Grow Associations Suppliers eager to reach your membership might be willing to pay for the right to present as part of a webinar, especially if it offers them an opportunity to promote their products or services. In some cases, they may want to produce an entire webinar. Your association has the audience they want, and sponsored webinars can bring needed cash flow while making a valuable connection between members and suppliers with information, products and services they’re interested in. In addition to courses and webinars, less formal educational content also holds sponsorship value. If your association produces podcasts or videos, these media hold sponsorship opportunities. Just as mentioned with website advertising, vendors and suppliers like the prestige of being associated with professional associations. And similar to sponsored webinars, sponsored digital content, such as videos and podcasts – even blog posts – offers another potentially lucrative stream of non-dues revenue. Social Media Social media is still a work in progress at many associations, but those with a solid presence can take advantage of this audience. Similar to email marketing, your organization’s social media followers are a coveted group for vendors and suppliers. Promoted or sponsored posts can monetize your association’s social media efforts. Rather than simply blasting your members with ads, you might consider the types of promoted posts you allow. Social media is an ideal vehicle for content marketing, and a chance for vendors and suppliers to get useful information into the hands of your members.
  7. 7. © 2016 MultiView. All Rights Reserved. 7 Apps Many associations offer mobile apps. Like your website, these applications allow space to sell display advertising. Of course, the larger your audience the better, but the advantage for potential advetisers is clear: Anyone using with your mobile app is an engaged prospect in a niche target market. A study by Moby Affiliates determined that third-party, in-app mobile display ads are set to generate almost $9 billion in revenue by 2020. With so much of our online activity moving toward smartphones and mobile devices, membership organizations have plenty of reasons to jump on the bandwagon. Advertising isn’t the only method to earn revenue from your mobile app, however. While you have the option to charge a fee for the app download, a better approach might be to charge for premium services within the app, a take on the so-called “freemium” model. If it’s a great tool for your members, analyze your association’s mobile app and see where you can maximize its earning potential and turn it into a great tool for revenue. Conclusion The need for non-dues revenue is obvious. Fortunately, new ideas for supplementing dues income have emerged in recent years and successful associations are always seeking ways to maximize the earning potential of their activities. You want to avoid continually hitting up the same members for more money, and that can especially be a problem in smaller associations that may not have the depth of membership to withstand it. Smaller associations may also have the limitations of staffing, making it a challenge to implement a tactical non-dues revenue strategy. The good news is that there are third parties in the association space that can help you. In most cases, these third-party vendors already have relationships throughout the non-profit ecosystem that can give your digital non-dues revenue plans a head start, and the good vendors are experts at simultaneously leveraging multiple forms of digital approaches to maximize returns of your organization’s efforts. So whether your organization needs a financial lifeline or just additional revenue streams for the rainy day fund, digital non-dues revenue can help meet those goals. B2B Connected. How Non-Dues Revenue Can Grow Associations Visit us at multiview.com Learn more about non dues revenue today 972.402.7070 solutions@multiview.com About Shawn Smajstrla Shawn Smajstrla has spent more than five years at MultiView in various editorial roles, developing and producing content for association partners across multiple specialties including business, marketing, leadership and travel. Prior to joining MultiView, he was the editor of a local sports magazine and still covers sports for his hometown newspaper, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. A graduate of Louisiana State University, Shawn has extensive experience in print, broadcast and digital media and is one of those people who thinks Radiohead is the best band ever. He also covers local Dallas/Fort Worth area sports teams as a reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.