Four High-Impact, Low-Cost Nondues Revenue Opportunities

high impact revenue opps August 1, 2023 By: Ross Brown, CAE, Patricia Giannini Henry, CAE, Michelle Peterson, and Sarah Spinosa

Finding new sources for nondues revenue isn’t easy. Four associations share the strategies they’ve put in place to bring in additional revenue.

Associations that are small but mighty are often faced with different challenges when it comes to nondues revenue sources. New initiatives often need to be cost-effective with no additional burden on staff, plus aligned with the association’s mission. But how do you know which opportunities to test with limited time and resources? ASAE’s Marketing Professionals Advisory Council’s Subcommittee on Revenue and ROI identified a few proven strategies to boost your nondues revenue.

Smart Strategy

When Alan De Young became executive director of the Wisconsin EMS Association (WEMSA), he immediately made some changes to increase revenue. The organization owned their building, but with only three staff members, he was able to reduce his office space. As a result, he sold excess furniture and transformed the other offices into private office suites to rent out. In addition, the building has plenty of parking, so he rents out the surplus parking spots to local residents. This has provided an additional annual revenue stream for the organization.

WEMSA also took a different approach to sponsorship programs. Rather than a traditional sponsorship where a company pays for a list of items in return, De Young approached a company that wanted to break into the EMS industry and gave them the opportunity to market to its targeted audience. As a result of the leads, WEMSA was given a percentage of their profit as a rebate. This allows WEMSA the freedom to find the right vehicle to market, whether that is a rotating graphic on the website, or email, or booth at their show. As a result of these initiatives, nondues revenue for WEMSA increased by 49 percent from their last fiscal budget year, with their membership revenue increasing by over 31 percent. 

Better Learning

Another example of driving nondues revenue comes from the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA), who recently developed the GALA Academy, a highly successful online learning opportunity that delivers in-depth training on specific topics.

One of the significant benefits of the academy was that the initial investment was not intensive.

“We already used the Zoom platform for our webinars and meetings, we used our AMS for event registration, and we used Basecamp for our special interest groups and committees,” said Allison Ferch, GALA’s executive director. “Our content strategist had to add the Academy content development and speaker recruitment to her to-do list, but it was a natural outgrowth of her usual work developing our written content and webinars. So far, we’ve relied almost entirely on a volunteer-speaker model, which also saves on resources.”

In looking to the future, GALA plans to continue its quarterly offerings and aims to grow attendance for each course.

“There is often a temptation when something is successful to do more and offer more, but we feel content to focus on quality over quantity,” Ferch said.

Year-Round Revenue Stream

When the pandemic hit, the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) capitalized on their new “thought leadership strategy”—resulting in double-digit revenue increases; a more than 25 percent increase in new, sustaining partnerships; and expanded international audience participation.

To address the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, AAPS quickly pivoted and restructured its event-related products. They also committed to and elevated an organizationwide, “science-first” focus, in which all content had to focus on science, be peer-reviewed, and meet the association’s science-based standards.

These strategies enabled the organization to “stay on the air” as the rest of the world shut down.

At the same time, AAPS also introduced their “thought leader” approach—which promotes their partner companies as trusted experts by having their top scientists present on topics that demonstrate their company’s expertise in science-focused talks delivered to AAPS’ audience. Product pitches were forbidden.

AAPS also heavily marketed their thought-leadership strategy with a portfolio of engagement opportunities—virtual webinars and events integrated across multiple channels—while also offering customized marketing programs. This integrated approach succeeded and has allowed clients to achieve their specific business and profitability goals.

Three years later, AAPS’ integrated strategy—with thought leadership in its foundation—is still going strong. 

“The thought leadership strategy continues to be a win-win-win for AAPS, its partner companies, and its members,” said Joy Davis, AAPS’ deputy executive director. “It provides audience exposure and increases sales for our partners, offers great content to our members, and provides AAPS with a steady year-round revenue stream.”

Jobs First

Finally, the Medical Group Management Association saw more than a 50 percent growth year-over-year in gross revenue by migrating their career center to Web Scribble. 

“We’re able to offer a key member benefit on the individual level for job seekers and the organizational level for job posters, while generating nondues revenue, which is critical to organization success,” said MGMA’s Member Engagement Director Allison Gault, MBA, CAE. “Through our partnership with Web Scribble, we’ve been able to offload much of our marketing support, freeing up marketing staff time to focus on other areas within the organization—all while continuing to meet our growth goals.”

The career center is win-win for MGMA, providing value to members and prospects by supplying them with job postings in their niche specialty areas, while generating nondues revenue. Simply put, they connect the right talent with the right opportunities, helping people and practices thrive so healthcare can too—while continuing to help MGMA fulfill their mission. Moreover, MGMA sends its members a “Hot Jobs Alert:” a biweekly email that continues to be the best-performing email the organization sends.

Ross Brown, CAE

Ross Brown, CAE, is director of conferences, marketing, and membership at the Association of State Dam Safety Officials and a member of ASAE's Marketing Professionals Advisory Council.

Patricia Giannini Henry, CAE

Patricia Giannini Henry, CMP, CEM, CAE, is director of events at APCO International in Daytona Beach, Florida, and a member of ASAE’s Marketing Professionals Advisory Council.

Michelle Peterson

Michelle Peterson is senior account director at Marketing General Incorporated in Alexandria, Virginia, and a member of ASAE’s Marketing Professionals Advisory Council.

Sarah Spinosa

Sarah Spinosa is product marketing manager at Higher Logic and a member of ASAE's Marketing Professionals Advisory Council.