Building a Future-Proofing Strategy – How to Diversify Your Non-Dues Revenue Part 2

By David Freeman • August 2, 2022

Byline: David Freeman & David Butler

Building a Future-Proofing Strategy – How to Diversify Your Non-Dues Revenue Part 2

We can’t predict the future, but we can prepare for it. Future-proofing helps to ensure that your association continues long after major disruptions. One of the best ways to future-proof? Diversifying your non-dues revenue (NDR) sources.

In Part 2 of this two-part series, we’ll discuss some lessons about future-proofing post-pandemic and how you can leverage your content ecosystem to improve your organization’s non-dues revenue streams. And in case you missed Part 1, here is where you can read it.

Lessons Learned for Associations from the COVID-19 Pandemic 

For many associations, the pandemic highlighted the importance of not leaning on one single non-dues revenue strategy. In particular, many associations rely on events and memberships as primary drivers of revenue — so losing the ability to host events was devastating. In this way, future-proofing isn’t only about prepping for hurricanes and tornadoes. Your association could face political, global, or economic changes that impact your industry. 

To combat these challenges, associations need to stay relevant, providing resources that align with their mission statements and benefit their members. Your association’s success depends on good planning and seeking to understand your options.

Leveraging Your Content Ecosystem

Your content ecosystem can help you to create more robust non-dues revenue streams. For instance, your association’s publications, email subscription lists, social media followers, and membership communications are valuable. Let’s learn more about how to use these to enhance NDR.

Marketplace/Special Sections in Publications

Special sections in print and digital publications allow advertisers to place an ad in an article or other content. For example, a piece of content could include a marketplace section with relevant services and products that your association members would be interested in. This type of ad can appeal to advertisers who don’t have the budget for a full display ad. You could also help sell ad spaces more regularly by using a subscription model. 

For example, Surety Bond Quarterly has a special supplement for written thought leadership pieces. Advertisers pay a premium rate to tell their stories in this highly prestigious area of the publication. 

Email Sponsorships

Email sponsorships represent an easy way to get more revenue out of your existing content. A company can sponsor an email to your audience, including a display ad or advertorial within the email. Many companies are willing to pay to sponsor emails, even if it’s just a simple “Sponsored By” message toward the top of your email.

Targeted Ads

Targeted ads automate the buying and selling of advertising. They use technology to measure and analyze information about your site visitors, offering users a more personalized and targeted impression. For instance, imagine the impact of offering a targeted ad based on your visitor’s last search versus a broadcast display ad that everyone sees. Since not everyone who visits your site is looking for the same things, you’re likely to see better results from the targeted ad.

To create targeted ads, you could focus on:

  • Keywords: Which keywords visitors use to get to your content.
  • Contextual: What kind of content visitors read and interact with.
  • Geofencing: Targeting people who attended an event or traveled within a certain geographical area.

Generally speaking, there are two types of ads: on-site and retargeted: 

On-site ads are available through exchanges and sold by cost per one thousand impressions (cost per mille or CPM) in a real-time auction. As the page loads, information about the user goes through an ad system. Next, the best ad choice is served to visitors. You can use this strategy to sell unsold display ads on digital properties on your website. 

Retargeting carves out highly targeted segments based on the advertiser’s needs. These highly specified ad campaigns are only shown to visitors that meet all of the criteria. Direct sales are required to sell these ads. 

In reality, any visitor that looks at your website will be retargeted. The only thing that you can control is whether they are retargeted to an ad you control or to a competing offer. You can retarget them to an event your association is hosting or to an offer from a supplier.

Post-Event Marketing

After your association’s events, you can further benefit from the list of attendees by creating outreach campaigns to target non-members. Offer post-event educational opportunities and additional resources to further cultivate relationships and encourage potential members to join, post their resume on your job board, and more.

AI Newsletters

AI newsletters provide curated content tailored to individual recipients. The emails are refined through artificial intelligence based on member preferences and interests. Compared to a generic email newsletter sent to all subscribers, this delivers more of the content that subscribers want to see and engage with. It customizes the email subject line and content based on their past clicks. There are many benefits of using AI to personalize newsletter content, including improved member engagement levels. It can also increase ROI for your association, creating more advertising opportunities through an integrated sales approach.

Association Applications

Association applications (mobile apps) can be used for live events and throughout the year. They allow the association to meet members where they are with improved resource offerings. Apps also give associations additional opportunities to create new year-round revenue streams, including job listings for members, exclusive advertorials, and mobile display ads.

Diversify Your Non-Dues Revenue to Stay Ahead of The Curve

Many associations don’t actively market their non-dues revenue opportunities. But it’s important to build your business strategy around the value you provide rather than just around the cost of membership. 

Diversifying your NDR will not only improve your value to your members and stakeholders but also help to future-proof your association and prepare for shifting landscapes.

Ready to discover how we can boost your non-dues revenue? Request a meeting to discuss your association’s plan today!


David Freeman, Account Manager. Freeman is a dynamic Account Director at Naylor, responsible for sustaining and expanding relationships with Naylor’s key and growth accounts to ensure long-term development, financial growth and client retention. He has a unique breadth and depth of association industry knowledge, having managed Naylor’s relationships with hundreds of organizations. He began his career at Naylor in 2014 in advertising sales and quickly distinguished himself as an outstanding sales leader and manager, becoming an Account Director in 2019. David is passionate about helping his clients and colleagues succeed.


David Butler; Senior Director, Business Development has worked tirelessly within the association community for over 12 years as the Senior Director of Business Development at Naylor. In that time, he has assisted association colleagues by providing the thought leadership necessary to maximize opportunities to drive non-dues revenue, acquire and retain members, and advance their unique missions.  Outside of the office, David enjoys watching football with his family and visiting the local dog parks with his Goldendoodle and Toy Poodle.