Your association needs more than just member dues to sustain and grow. To truly offer legislative help and professional development opportunities for your members, non-dues revenue becomes a crucial part of the equation.
In fact, a 2016 study showed that as little as 30 percent of association revenue actually comes from membership dues. The rest is gathered through a variety of other sources, from strategic sponsorship to paid services and research.
Events are another crucial source of non-dues revenue. Especially larger conference can raise significant funds that can be used throughout the year for a number of activities. But of course, simply setting up an event and hoping for the best is not enough. Here are 5 ways you can leverage your events and conferences to grow your non-dues revenue.
1) Build a Compelling Agenda
"If you build it, they will come" is at least partially true for your association event. The only way to attract both members and non-members to your conference is to make them excited about it. That means relevant topics, exciting networking events, and speakers they can easily recognize.
Especially for professional associations, many of your members will depend on employer funding for their trip. With your agenda, you can help them make the argument for this particular kind of professional development. Focus on topics that are relevant in your industry right now, and future trends that might become relevant soon.
It also makes sense to go beyond the actual presentation topics. Networking events can be invaluable assets for your attendees. Personal development sessions, perhaps over lunch, further provide motivation. And of course, it never hurts to have a keynote speaker that doubles as an influencer in your industry.
2) Improve the Registration Process
With a robust and exciting agenda in place, you will be able to drive your members to register for your event. Now, you have to make sure their experience is as streamlined and straightforward as possible.
Stay away from a system that requires multiple paths of communication, such as registering online but having to send in a check. Instead, allow for easy online registration and payment through the same platform. You might even want to connect it to your existing membership platform to reduce the friction of filling in personal and professional information.
The registration process should also be optimized through the confirmation. Especially members who depend on reimbursement will need a comprehensive receipt that includes both payment information and purpose for the payment. The easier the signup and reimbursement, the more sign-ups you will receive.
3) Invite Relevant Sponsors and Exhibitors
No industry event would be complete without sponsors and exhibitors. As the conference host, they are a vital source of non-dues revenue that can also provide important value for your attendees.
Relevant brands should be able to sponsor a lunch or lecture, have a booth around the conference space, or place ads in the conference programs. But relevance is absolute key: you need to make sure that the products and services they offer actually offer value to your members.
The reason is two-fold. First, your members will not appreciate the 'in-person spam' they could get from irrelevant vendors, depressing attendance. But vendors might also not be as successful if the audience isn't right, depressing future sponsorships. That's why it's crucial to find a balance between the right sponsors and maximizing sponsorship revenue.
4) Offer Extracurricular Workshops
Most likely, your event will be built around the aforementioned presentations. Especially once it grows into a conference, you will have enough attendees that hands-on workshops can be difficult to administer. And yet, these types of workshops tend to be the most effective way for your attendees to learn more about their industry and craft.
Fortunately, one solution is both straightforward and happens to help you raise your non-dues revenue from the event. Instead of trying to integrate them into your conference, hold workshops for a limited amount of people before and after the event. Now, you can treat them as extracurricular activities that require an additional registration fee.
Ideally, your members should be able to register for a workshop as they complete their conference registration. The topic needs to be relevant, and should be administered by a recognized expert in the field. Adding them to the beginning or end of your conference agenda makes sure that registrants can decide whether or not these workshops are worth the extra funds, without having to adjust their travel schedule.
5) Monetize Opportunities After the Event
Finally, don't underestimate the potential of raising revenue after the conclusion of the event. First, this is an ideal opportunity to remind attendees about upcoming events to encourage early registrations. In addition, with consent of your attendees, you can use their data for revenue-building activities.
- Use attendee information and findings for market research. You can even use the conference itself for surveys about the industry, which will be very valuable for research opportunities down the road.
- Consider the opportunity for sponsors to purchase or lease mailing and contact lists of employees. This allows them to follow up after the event about relevant product and service opportunities.
It bears repeating that both of these initiatives should only be made with express consent of your members. Data sharing can be beneficial, but it has to be mutually so. The goal is not to exploit the concept, but to raise revenue while in addition maximizing the services your association can offer.
Building Your Association Events to Grow Your Revenue
Ultimately, a simple formula applies here: the more attendees you have, the more your non-dues revenue will grow. Registration fees are more lucrative, sponsors are willing to pay more, and attendance at extracurricular workshops increases.
Attendees expect quality, but they also look for a streamlined experience that makes the event easy for them to register, attend, and chat about. And that's where Engagifii enters the equation.
Our platform can help your association coordinate and manage your events and conferences, no matter their size. That includes an effective online registration and payment system, as well as all the technical support your attendees will need at the event. The result is a focus on growing your revenue that ultimately benefits both you and your members. Schedule a call to learn more about our platform, and how it can help you organize a better (and more lucrative) event.