Strategies for Increasing Non-Dues Revenue

For many associations, the ability to face and overcome the many challenges brought on by the global pandemic centered on maintaining and building new revenue streams. Those most successful continued to prove their capacity to adapt and embrace novel and innovative approaches beyond the usual sources of income.

Association revenue has typically focused on membership dues and annual conference registration revenue, even in periods of stable economic growth. The lessons of the past year have taught us that these may not be enough to sustain the organization over the long-term.

So, what other options can be leveraged by associations to increase revenue? Association Acumen staff works with our client associations to leverage traditional sources of non-dues revenue to identify and employ innovative tactics which transform, build, and connect to new options and opportunities.


  • Offer education outside of the annual meeting to expand member benefits and establish your organization as an industry thought leader.
  • Build partnerships with and leverage support from corporations, foundations, and government agencies that support education and sponsor or exhibit at meetings and events.
  • Secure donations. Encourage members and others in the community to provide donations or bequests to the organization.
  • Leverage your website, magazines, newsletters, and other publications to generate advertising revenue, a low-cost initiative when produced electronically or through a combination of electronic and print.
  • Sell association-branded merchandise such as logoed t-shirts, jackets, and hats.


  • Create virtual experiences until we can again convene in-person events.
  • Identify the best, most cost-effective solutions for virtual event technology and platforms for meetings, education, and networking events.
  • Structure virtual pricing to offer free or deeply discounted fees as a member benefit, and fund with sponsorships, grants or non-member registration fees.
  • Prolong the life of your virtual offerings and open new revenue streams from the sale of enduring online content and on-demand presentations.
  • Incorporate a virtual and/or hybrid strategy into your future planning to engage those who may not be able to attend in-person events in the future.


  • Provide certification. Often a condition of employment in a variety of industries, if your association can develop a certification program to demonstrate a national standard for your industry, can be an excellent source of additional revenue and draw members and non-members who want to increase their value in the marketplace.
  • Expand on the sponsor and vendor value proposition, recognizing these valuable partnerships and enhancing their return on investment.
  • Establish annual partnerships instead of one-time event sponsorships, creating structured benefit solutions that connect sponsor brands, products, and services with target audiences year-round.
  • Articulate advertising and promotional opportunities across multiple and digital vehicles that highlight the ability to target specific segments of the membership database, building recognition and revenue for them as well as for the association.
  • Publish books to generate additional revenue and demonstrate thought leadership to members, media, and the public.
  • Advertise, through programs offered at no cost to eligible nonprofits, to increase awareness and raise the potential for new member and event participant revenue. Examples include Google Ads (Part of Google for Nonprofits Program) and YouTube for Nonprofits (Part of Google for Nonprofits Program).


  • Increase awareness of the value of the benefits enjoyed by members and their connection to products and services of partner companies and related organizations.
  • Establish job boards and career services to connect job seekers with open positions and the entities hiring for these.
  • Create affinity programs to connect your members with products and services at discounted rates, such as life or auto insurance programs. Affinity programs are business partnerships where a company offers special rates to increase revenue for both organizations.
  • Provide member lists to non-member organizations and individuals for a fee.
  • Provide access to annual industry research and statistics for a fee.

Through a combination of revenue-generating strategies, including traditional tactics and those that transform, build, and connect, associations continue to successfully navigate current challenges to ensure sustained financial stability and future fiscal growth.

About the author: Caley Mutrie, CAE, is the Executive Director of IOM, a client-partner of Association Acumen, LLC, an accredited association management company (AMC) that offers a full range of professional services for state, national and international associations.

To find out more, visit their newly designed website as the Association Acumen blog.

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