Are You Maximizing Your Meeting Revenue?

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Non-dues revenue programs should be a component of any association’s long-term strategic plan to advance its mission and recruit and retain members reports Jeanne Sheehy in an article for Associations Now Magazine. What are the keys to developing and managing successful non-dues revenue programs? According to Sheehy's interviews, the following are essential components to getting the job done.

Start with a plan

Don’t confuse nondues revenue programs with quick fixes or “add-ons.” Rather, build nondues revenue strategy into your organization’s overall plan from the start. As with other components, integrate nondues revenue programs within the overall organizational plan to advance the assn’s mission and serve (and attract) members. Think long term; typically non-dues revenue programs will not generate results overnight. They will grow and evolve.

Do your homework

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Identify what your members need first (and what they are willing to pay for!) – and then build a non-dues program to meet those needs. You might convene a focus group or conduct a survey to identify and prioritize those needs.

Explore and evaluate options

Non-dues revenue programs are not “one size fits all.” Tailor a program to meet your assn’s needs. There’s a wide range of potential programs – from meetings to educational courses, to affinity programs, sponsorships and merchandise, to name just a few. Evaluate and test all of your options before rolling them out to a wider audience.

As important, evaluate what you’ll need to make a particular program work. How do implementation costs compare with available budget? What is the time involved to launch and maintain a program? How does the program serve to advance the organization’s mission?

Non-dues revenue options (New products and services examples)

  • Consulting services
  • Affinity programs
  • Sponsorships
  • Education programs
  • Industry surveys
  • Logo merchandise
  • Print & web advertising
  • Job bank–Current products and pricing review
  • Publications–Certification capability


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The current economic situation underscores the need for individuals to diversify their financial portfolio. Associations are no different. In fact, it has become increasingly important for associations to develop and evaluate diversified revenue streams on an ongoing basis. Today, as NAB continues to respond to the needs of its members and its own organizational growth, it maintains 15 non-dues revenue programs. With this approach, the variety of offerings not only keeps members engaged, it prevents the association from having all of its financial eggs in one basket.

Track success

Before implementing its technology-based solution, NAB’s review process produced only adequate results. But in the first year of its new on-line system, NAB experienced a 67% increase in approved programs and generated a 61% increase in fee revenue. The new system provides password protected security and eliminates the need to input data manually into the database because data can now be retrieved from the original application. Revenue generated has more than paid for the start-up costs of the system.

Jeanne Sheehy is VP and chief marketing officer, Bostrom, Chicago. Read the entire article here.