No matter what you do for a living, most people can appreciate the value in securing more than one revenue stream. Whether that means moonlighting, freelancing, or selling items on Facebook marketplace, the idea of supplementing your primary source of income with a second or third shows good common sense.
If you think of your association the same way, why wouldn’t you prioritize non-dues revenue opportunities by better leveraging your association LMS?
To ensure we’re all on the same page, non-dues revenue is, as implied, any revenue that falls outside of membership dues. More specifically, The Center for Association Leadership defines non-dues revenue as:
“Revenue generated from the sale of programs, products, and services to members and other customers makes an association less dependent on dues income and contributes to its reserves, increasing the organization’s financial security.”
With that definition in mind, let’s explore how your association LMS can help you increase non-dues revenue…
Content: The Lifeblood of Your LMS
A learning management system (LMS) is built on the promise of strong content. Without it, what are you offering your audience? You’ve no doubt heard Bill Gates’ declaration that “Content is king.”
While that might be true, Lee Odden is more accurate when he says that “Content isn’t king, it’s the kingdom.” And the keys to that kingdom — your LMS kingdom — can’t be made accessible via free downloads and complimentary content on demand, which brings us to our first non-dues revenue suggestion.
Put a price on your content.
After all, Marcus Sheirdan put it perfectly when he said that “Great content is the best sales tool in the world.” There’s the rub: great content. Your content has to deliver in order to, well… deliver. Once it does, you can offer a variety of paid options, including some complimentary content to inspire interest in what you’re selling. No matter what, you have to ensure your content is value driven and delivers value. On that note…
Create content worthy of a paid download.
You cannot expect your audience to pay for lackluster content. Value-driven content, on the other hand — content rich in actionable material — is worth its weight in gold. Good examples of paid content that will increase your association’s non-dues revenue include: advertising or sponsorships, hosting events and conferences, donations, and subscriptions.
Don’t reinvent the content wheel.
Seriously. Take inventory of all the content your association has created and figure out how to repurpose what you have into different — and popular — formats. Why not, for example, excerpt relevant data, like current industry trends or statistics, from some of your longer form content and highlight in short, quippy social media posts?
Pro-tip: make these stand out with graphic design done in-house or on a tool like Canva and then ensure the post is shareable so that you expand your reach simply by people liking and sharing your content. Another idea? If you have a YouTube channel, do you include transcripts for each video? Repost updated blog or white paper content, including the reason for the update in the caption. Did you host a blockbuster conference and have an inventory of workshop, lecture, and session content to share? Provided you have the speakers’ permission to do so, do it!
Ensure Shopping is a Cinch
Once you have a catalog of compelling content, your customers need to be able to purchase it without any problems. This means the shopping cart should function just as any other online retailer’s; if not, your association could suffer decreased sales and frustrate your customers. Ensure that shopping is a cinch by working with a LMS that supports purchasing features, such as coupons and promotions, on demand download, and several currency choices.
Keep Pace with the Pulse of Your Industry
As a professional association, you’re tasked with providing relevant educational opportunities. If you don’t have your finger on the pulse of industry trends and especially unforeseen developments, your association LMS will look lackluster.
Consider dedicating one or two of your team members to monitor industry news and developments in order to report back on items that might prove meaningful to your learners. Not only will your association assume an authoritative position, you will engender trust with your attendees by being up to the minute on industry developments.
Expand Your Network to Non-Members
Establishing your association as an authentic voice of authority is something that can — and should — resonate outside of your member base. Promote your content to all audiences by offering free downloads, as well as the ability for non-members to make content purchases and download certain materials on demand. Do restrict the majority of your content to membership dues, but advertise the amazing content you’ve created by making some of it complimentary, to anyone interested in learning more. Always include some kind of call-to-action with every download or free resource that encourages the learner to share with others on social media. By doing this, you’re putting your association in front of more prospective members, which could potentially increase membership and also boost revenue from additional content sales. Speaking of social media sharing…
Invite Everyone to Your Online Learning Events and Conferences
Hosting virtual learning opportunities, whether a workshop, lecture, reading or panel discussion can support another non-dues revenue stream. By sharing these opportunities online, your association can offer opt-ins for both members and non-members, according to a tiered pricing schedule.
Pro-tip: Differentiate the price of purchase for non-members as another way to possibly increase membership. If a non-member is interested in several of your virtual events and sees a significant difference between member and non-member fees, they might be inclined to pursue a membership. Even if they don’t, you’re positioning your association to leverage non-dues revenue by curating a catalog of hybrid events that, once recorded and stored on your LMS, can provide a strong and repeatable source of revenue. In addition, include pricing options that correspond to additional opportunities; for example, a non-member will have to pay for admission or access to a virtual event, like a lecture or presentation. If the event is live, you can include an additional price to participate in a Q&A or small breakout session with the speaker.
Of course, all of these non-dues revenue ideas are only as good as the platform supporting them, which is why you need to take a long look at your association LMS and determine whether it truly has the technical capabilities to support this variety of profit streams.
Learn How Your Association LMS Can Help
Some key factors to consider when evaluating your association LMS include scalability, the availability of integrations that support a better customer experience, and flexibility to meet consumer expectations while aligning with your association’s goals and growth.
Freestone is recognized as the association industry’s leading LMS platform thanks, in part, to its award winning software that supports a comprehensive consumer interface, which is easily accessible from all personal devices.
“I’ve been using Freestone from Community Brands for a few years now and not only have I been pleased with the look, customization, and functionality of the platform, but also overjoyed with the support I receive from the team there …Really I can’t say enough about how much I appreciate the team and the Freestone product. It’s a great feeling to know I’m in good hands with them in every aspect of our LMS use.” — Morgan W.
Freestone makes your association’s program management simple to streamline via the variety of tools that also establish the online learning suite, which your association can consistently update to reflect the cutting-edge technology and industry trends.
Learn more about how Freestone is the association LMS your organization needs by contacting us to schedule a complimentary demonstration today!