For associations, non-dues revenue (funds from sources other than membership fees) is a crucial component for weathering periods of flat or declining membership. Growing this form of revenue is of particular importance to small associations. In fact, in the Community Brands 2019 Benchmark Report: Small-Staff Associations, 70 percent of respondents list increasing non-dues revenue as an important strategic priority over the next year.

Today, a majority of organizations earn non-dues revenue from events, sponsors, and exhibitors. Continuing education falls in at number four on the list with 49 percent saying it’s a source of non-dues revenue. However, it appears as if this education is being conducted in traditional place-based formats, as very few organizations are leveraging technological solutions to support this initiative. Only 21 percent of respondents say they use their webcast/webinar tool to generate or increase non-dues revenue. And even fewer leverage their learning management system (LMS) for non-dues revenue generation, with only 9 percent answering in the affirmative.

Technology is key to a comprehensive education strategy, so there is a large opportunity for organizations to be more successful with their programming with better use of technological solutions.

Another interesting stat from the study: 69 percent of respondents are prioritizing developing or offering new benefits and services. With education becoming an increasingly important benefit for members, now is the time to examine how you’re supporting your members’ learning needs.

So where to begin? For any organization, especially a small staff association, launching new techniques for delivering learning can seem daunting. Here are some tips on where you can start:

  • Take inventory and evaluate your current learning offerings and available assets. Determine what additional learning formats may be beneficial to add. Don’t forget to survey your members for their feedback.
  • Fill in the gaps by leveraging the content you already generate. Capture your in-person events and repurpose that content into on-demand programming or rebroadcasts.
  • Invest in technology that allows you to deliver a variety of education types in one platform to save money and staff time.
  • Ensure your LMS includes supporting services to supplement your team, such as content creation, webinar moderation, production services, and end-user support.
  • Examine how you price your content. If education has historically been included as a free member benefit, consider limiting that to a certain medium. Perhaps your live webinars or webcasts are at a cost and your on-demand programming is included with membership. Also, make sure all your content is available at a cost to non-members to increase your earning potential.

There is a lot of room for associations to expand and grow their education strategy, thereby increasing the opportunity for more non-dues revenue. The key is embracing alternative, modern formats and leveraging technology to expand the reach of your content.

To learn more about small association staff priorities and tips for growth check out the complete Benchmark Report: Small-Staff Associations.