Increase your Association’s Non-Dues Revenue with Online Learning

July 20, 2020

Confident female association member participating in online learning opportunity

Funding is one of the main concerns of associations, and dues revenue streams - such as income from membership dues - is usually complemented by revenue from events, sponsorships, and exhibitors. COVID-19 has put a lid on most of those sources of income, and that means it’s time to innovate and adapt to create non-dues revenue.


Ideas to Generate Non-Dues Revenue

Generating non-dues revenue is a priority for associations right now: according to the Community Brands 2019 in Benchmark Report: Small-Staff Associations, 70% percent of participating associations say that increasing non-dues revenue is an important priority over the next year. 

While traditionally non-dues revenue comes from events and revenue-generating branded merchandise, there are many ways to generate revenue from members and non-members alike. With online learning on the rise because of social distancing measures, online education is quickly rising as an excellent option for associations.

Adapt and grow during these uncertain times, and get ready to start offering live webinars and other online learning options as a member benefit and a way to attract new members.

Recent studies show that only 9% of associations are using a Learning Management System (LMS) to generate or increase non-due revenue through online teaching. That means more than 90% of associations are missing out on a good alternative to live events to generate additional revenue and member engagement

Don’t get stuck in the past - adapt and grow during these uncertain times, and get ready to start offering live webinars and other online learning options as a member benefit and a way to attract new members. 


Learning Technology

If your association is not using a Learning Management System or some kind of education program management software, it’s time to get one. There are licenses to be paid, for sure, but the return on investment is worth it, both in time and effort saved by using a management solution and in revenue from your new learning offers.  

How can online learning increase non-dues revenue?

You can monetize your learning solutions in many ways: first of all by selling your seminars and courses to people seeking professional development and trying to meet continuing education requirements. But there are other ways, such as selling advertising space or offering a job board with relevant job posts. Let’s elaborate. 



If you have an audience, you can capitalize on it. The sponsorship model that works so well for live events translates beautifully into online learning. For example, if you’re hosting a webinar series, consider seeking partners willing to provide sponsorships or scholarships, and invite their experts to speak during the webinar to build credibility. Leveraging your social media space through sponsored posts and “takeovers” is another way to monetize your audience without asking them for money.


Create a Successful Member Engagement Strategy: A Step-by Step Guide


Certifications and Accreditation Programs

The job market is tough, and people have extra time now that they’re not commuting. Attract paying learners by offering accreditation programs and certifications that can help them get ahead in their industry.

Think of your own loyal members - what are their continuing education needs for their specific industries? By offering what your members need, and becoming a career center of sorts, you do not just support your members - you also create an irresistible product that fulfills the needs of your members and will also attract non-members from the same field.  


Perpetual Membership 

We are proposing online education as an excellent source of non-dues revenue, but it can also enhance your membership and dues collection. Younger members of associations seek and expect educational benefits as part of their membership perks, and your attraction and retention strategies should take this into account.

Did you know that according to a recent survey, only 47% of members said their association offered “good or excellent” online training? The need is there, and so are the growth opportunities. Delight your members, give them what they want and need, and you will increase your potential to acquire new ones in the process.


How to Start Increasing Revenue with Online Learning 

Are you ready to start increasing your non-dues revenue and making your members succeed through online education? Let’s go into this step by step. 


1. Take stock of what you currently offer.

  1. What courses or assets do you currently have available? Look into your existing teaching, which was probably delivered live, and look for ways to adapt it for online distribution.
  2. Are there ways to offer additional learning formats? Webinars, whitepapers, e-books… consider all the options to make your content available online.

2. Survey members for feedback.

  1. Are you teaching everything your members want to learn? Find the gaps and fill them with new content.
  2. Are you teaching in all the ways your members want to learn? Round up your offerings with video, audio, or interactive options, according to what your members ask for.

3. How are you currently pricing your educational content? 

  1. Is learning currently free for all members? You may be missing out on revenue. Consider a tiered approach, with different membership levels gaining access to different training.
  2. Think about expanding paid educational offerings for members, with more advanced or specific modules.
  3. Finally, remember: free content for members should be available to the public for a cost. You may already have lots of free content that you could make money from by making it available to non-members.

4. Find the right Learning Management System.

  1. This will help you to manage courses, produce videos, and create engaging learning experiences. The ease of use and management will more than make up for what it costs - trust us on this one.

The pandemic has thrown everyone off course, but you can use this opportunity to adapt and serve your members even better with online education when they need it the most.


Quiz - What kind of association management software do you need?