Earn More Non-Dues Revenue from These Unexpected Places

By David Butler • June 29, 2021

In May 2021, Noora Health, a non-profit that educates families about how to care for babies in southeast Asia, raised $4.5 million toward that mission through an NFT. While your association might not be ready for such cutting-edge fundraising tactics, there are many ways to take a fresh approach to earning more non-dues revenue.

One promising source is recruitment advertising. Although the economy is recovering from the contractions of the pandemic, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that as of May 2021 there were still 9.3 million unemployed Americans looking for jobs. Meanwhile, as of April 2021 an estimated 1.8 million Canadians were unemployed or underemployed.

These numbers translate into a ripe revenue opportunity for associations through job boards or online career centers. As hubs for industry employers and talent, associations can leverage their online career centers to help employers find the talent they need while earning revenue.

If your job board or online career center is languishing, now’s the time to step up your offerings for employers seeking talent to backfill positions or fill newly created roles. Revive your paid job posting packages with options that fit your industry’s needs. Consider adding job display advertising to your homepage and to chapter pages to give employers greater value for their ads, and to collect a better premium for your association. Join a career center network of related industry job boards that repost each others’ job listings to offer your sponsoring recruiters wider exposure to a bigger talent pool.

To boost the value your job board offers employers, add job retargeting to your advertising options. Retargeting is a form of programmatic advertising that serves display advertising for featured job listings to people after they leave your online career center. They’re encouraged to revisit those listings, resulting in more talent-employee connections and more revenue for you.

For job seekers, provide a mix of free and fee-based services that give value at different price points. Pack your career center with free content about industry topics and job searching tips. Offer fee-based résumé review services and interview coaching that can be purchased directly through your career center. Add an online mentorship program to connect emerging industry stars with seasoned veterans.

A second fast-growing area of non-dues revenue for associations is sponsored thought leadership. Your members have a lot to say! Help them share their deep industry knowledge through sponsored content. Publish their blog article or webinar for a fee. Host them on your podcast to talk about their expertise in exchange for sponsoring the episode. Are they video experts? Offer to host their product or service demo video on your website, exhibitor directory or event site as a standalone paid placement or as part of a larger package.

Sponsored email is gaining particular traction among associations. For a fee – dependent upon your association’s email list size, but typically starting in the low four-figures – your association sends members an email on behalf of a sponsor. The content could be promotional or strictly editorial, with a nod to the business that supplied it. The idea is to offer businesses controlled access to your members while giving members the opportunity to learn about new offerings or emerging topics from the front lines.  Of course, your association earns revenue for extending this service.

No matter how you approach non-dues revenue, remember that stockpiling money isn’t the goal. It’s how you’ll use those funds to enhance membership value and enrich your industry further. Will you fund scholarships for member dues? Expand accessibility to existing member programming? Or will you try something more creative, such as offering free museum passes to member families or sponsoring internship grants for member companies? Take a chance on one of these non-dues revenue wellsprings and grow!


About The Author

David Butler is a senior business development director with Naylor Association Solutions. Reach him at [email protected].