Partner Corner: Webinars for Increased Membership and Revenue

By: Michelle Boucher and Shawn Boynes, CAE

Webinars can be a great way to provide meaningful content to your members while increasing income.

Challenge: How can our association's webinars generate nondues revenue and grow our membership simultaneously?

Solution: Many associations are considering a sponsorship model for their webinars, offering complimentary education events to members since costs are offset by the sponsor. These free webinars serve as a member-only benefit, while nonmembers are charged a modest fee. The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology charges nonmembers $149 per webinar, which is $30 less than a full annual domestic membership. Because membership includes full access to APIC's library of webinars, nonmembers receive more value by becoming a member. APIC has seen a significant surge in membership numbers in the past three years as a result of this model.

Here are three tips for using this model to improve your bottom line and increase membership:

  1. Plan your content in advance, but leave flexibility to add in hot topics that may arise throughout the year. Advance planning helps you find the appropriate sponsor for the education session, and flexibility may attract new sponsors as a result of last-minute topic selection.
  2. Align sponsors with sessions that support their strategic objectives. Offer incentives for multisession sponsorships.
  3. Add sponsors to session marketing (e.g., promotional emails, newsletters, and website exposure).

The ultimate goal is a win-win for both your organization and your sponsor while providing the educational content your members need.

Michelle Boucher is the director of marketing for CommPartners, which provides virtual meetings, webinars, email marketing, e-newsletters, and audio conferencing. Shawn Boynes, CAE, is senior director of education for APIC. Emails: [email protected][email protected]