15 Ideas for Non-dues Revenue Streams

Fundraising August 12, 2014

Lori Halley

By Lori Halley

Many membership-based organizations rely entirely on their member dues to generate revenue. But in reality, non-dues revenue streams can provide an even greater opportunity.

According to a poll conducted by Association Advisor, 44% of associations are able to double their revenue through non-dues sources.

Imagine what your nonprofit could do with double the revenue?

Better programs. Bigger promotions. More Staff.

To help you think of ways to create non-dues revenue sources for your nonprofit, we surveyed 487 small to medium-sized nonprofits to find out how they do it.

Here are the results of the survey which reveal the top ways nonprofits generate non-dues revenue.


The Top 5 Non-dues Revenue Streams

Survey respondents showed an overwhelming agreement that events are the most important source of non-dues revenue. One respondent even noted that events represented 99% of their organization’s overall revenue.

Here are the top 5 sources of non-dues revenue reported by our survey participants.

  1. Events (conferences, symposiums, workshops, lunch & learns, festivals, etc.)
  2. Sponsorship
  3. Education (certification, training programs, tele-seminars, lecture programs, webinars, etc.)
  4. Fundraising/Donations
  5. Grants
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10 Ideas for Additional Revenue Streams

In addition, survey participants identified a number of  non-dues revenue streams that their organizations have found successful. Here are another 10 ideas that we thought we'd share:

  1. Merchandise sales
  2. Subscription fee to access password-protected side of website
  3. Insurance sales
  4. Project management fees
  5. Sales of member directory
  6. Fees for conducting research/studies
  7. Subscriptions to industry statistics
  8. Rental of office space
  9. Retail outlet
  10. Sale of industry-specific books

The Easiest Way to Create Non-Dues Revenue for Your Nonprofit

Every nonprofit is different. Just because one can create more revenue from a certificate program doesn’t mean all will.

The easiest way to discover what non-dues revenue sources will work for your nonprofit is by doing what some of the most successful nonprofits do: ask their members.

It’s your members after all that know best what they want.

One engineering association I know conducts a yearly member survey to ask what additional services and programs members want. One popular idea was to create more online educational resources. This led to the association launching a paid webinar series, which proved to be a consistent source of monthly revenue.


Non-Dues Revenue: The Basics

If you’re a small nonprofit and all this seems daunting, you’re not alone. Bob Jonas is the Managing Director of Association Revenue Solutions and in his experience, this is typical. He points out that most small nonprofits don't realize they already have the tools and channels at their disposal to easily create extra streams of non-dues revenue right away.

If you’d like to know where to get started, I’d encourage you to read his brief guide that covers the basics of non-dues revenue.

Additional Resources:

The Membership Growth Report:

Benchmarks & Insights for Growing Revenue and Constituents

Get the report now!

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