How savvy associations use technology to grow non-dues revenue and delight members

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NetForum Marketing Team

September 17, 2019

    Get integrated solutions to equip associations with the resources to deliver more value to members.

    When you need to close the gaps between the services members value and the user experience you’re delivering, we have solutions. We can work with you to help drive non-dues revenue for your association. Whether you need tech or non-tech options, we offer the resources to help your organization grow. Strategic approaches to generating non-dues revenue are important on several different levels, with the right combination of technological and non-technological solutions being critical.

    Providing the membership benefits and accessible experience your constituents are looking for can have a sizable impact on your association’s non-dues revenue. When you build loyalty and foster good relationships with your members, they’ll be excited to engage with your organization and contribute. With the right resources, you can get solutions to grow your association and deepen your engagement with constituents.

    When you need to grow your association’s revenue, you can’t always simply raise the cost of membership dues. That can turn off members, leading to a drop in member recruitment and retention. 

    So what can you do to maintain budgets and continue to provide members with great service – even throughout ups and downs in the economic cycle? Diversify.

    Leveraging Technology

    The 2019 Community Brands Digital Evolution Study suggests that organizations have work to do around value propositions and technology.

    In the study, there are a few benefits members cite as reasons they joined their professional membership organization where they also give their organization’s technology experience a positive rating. But there are some important benefits that get lower scores, including online trainings and job boards – both key areas for generating non-dues revenue.

    In fact, the study shows less than half (47 percent) of members rate their organization’s online training as very good or excellent.

    Only 38 percent rate their organization’s job board as very good or excellent.

    The good news: Your association can close the gaps between the services members value and the online experience you’re delivering around these services. Leveling up your technology around online training and job boards will increase member satisfaction and offer the added benefit of driving non-dues revenue for your organization.

    Less than half (47 percent) of members rate their organization’s online training as very good or excellent.  

    1. Fundraising

    Many associations are turning to fundraising as part of their non-dues revenue-generating plan. NetForum Enterprise includes fundraising functionality to help you manage and engage your members as donors, analyze and score relationships, and increase development effectiveness. 

    For example, using NetForum, you can do the following:

    • Manage donor data – You can manage donor data with a clear 360-degree view of campaigns, donors, and fundraising events

    • Monitor donor health – Industry-leading A-Score™ functionality within NetForum Enterprise offers engagement scoring capabilities that allows you to simplify the lifecycle of prospects to donors and lifetime donors with your own modeling. It also includes built-in analytics and the ability to easily create custom queries so you can build and view the reports you need for insights into your donor members

    • Target donor communications with precision – NetForum includes the ability to specify suggested donation ask amounts that are calculated based on a donor’s historical giving patterns.

    • Deliver a modern giving experience – NetForum allows you to process gifts like a modern fundraiser. For example: 

      • Allow members to set up monthly donations.  

      • Split recurring gifts across funds.  

      • Soft credit a member of a household so you can have combined family/couple giving totals on the household. 

      • Link a matching gift to the gift that generated the match. 

      • Personalize gift acknowledgment emails

    2. Certification and credentialing

    Your members look to your association for learning opportunities that allow them to fulfill industry continuing education requirements. At the same time, your members want to advance their careers, and they need the certifications and credentials to do so. Creating a certification and credentialing program can help you bring in revenue through certification and exam fees. 

    Keeping track of continuing education credits, credentials, and certifications can be a handful if you try to tackle it manually. NetForum Enterprise can help you streamline and automate your certifications processes and manage your credentialing program. NetForum Enterprise’s credentialing software, powered by Agilutions, is an essential part of any certification program, enabling staff to streamline processes and empower learners with greater visibility and participation in the certification process.

    NetForum Enterprise also integrates with Community Brands’ award-winning learning management systems, Crowd Wisdom and Freestone, to manage all aspects of a robust continuing education program.

    3. E-commerce

    Creating a familiar online store experience is a great way to drive revenue for your association. For example, by building an online store, you can offer members a convenient way to join, renew, register for events, and buy products. You can also sell products, including merchandise and publications, online

    With NetForum Enterprise e-commerce capabilities, your association can create a convenient and easy-to-manage online store experience. You can easily connect it with your inventory management and accounting tools to simplify all aspects of online sales. Plus, you can charge credit cards in real-time through a third-party payment processor, and automatically send batch transactions to your accounting software.

    4. Leveraging a Learning Management System

    Let’s start with your members’ learning needs.

    It’s important to have a learning management system (LMS) in place to support your members’ professional development needs. An LMS delivers online educational content and courses to your members. It typically handles course registrations, tracking, and reporting. It also has a content library to house your course components.

    Here are three things to look for in LMS software:

    Flexibility – Look for a system that allows you to grow your online learning program over time to meet your members’ needs. Some capabilities you may need now and later:

    • Live and on-demand delivery
    • Personalized learning paths
    • Assessment and testing
    • Continuing education tracking and certifications
    • Social learning community
    • Mobile-friendly interfaces
    • Ecommerce
    • Configurable reporting
    • Integration with other systems, such as online job boards and association management software (AMS) 

    Interactivity – Talking with other attendees, asking questions, and making comments aren’t just for on-site events. Interactivity can be brought to virtual experiences as well. Look for a system that supports networking and interaction opportunities in your online learning experience.

    Ease of use – The system you select should streamline manual tasks to free your learning staff’s time so they can focus on delivering the right content to your members when they need it. At the same time, it’s important to allow your members to easily find the content they need. Your LMS should allow your staff to easily tag and categorize content so your members can quickly find the content they’re seeking. It should also allow members to easily access content via their mobile devices.

    5. Online career center and Job Boards

    Use an online career center solution to meet your members’ needs

    Transforming your association into “the” career resource for your industry or profession is invaluable for your members and prospects. Plus, your membership represents a wellspring of valuable candidates for recruiters.

    Employers will pay to advertise job openings on your association’s job board. And, your career center can help your association make connections with companies that might be good prospects for sponsorships and advertising packages.

    Here are some things your online career center technology should do to deliver value for your members and prospective members while driving revenue for your organization:

    • Email job matching – Automatically send jobs to interested, relevant job seekers via email when they are posted.
    • Mobile responsiveness – Allow your members to quickly apply to jobs from their mobile devices.
    • Personalized search and recommendations – Increase engagement and job views by recommending opportunities to job seekers based on their prior searches.
    • High ROI employer products – Offer hiring managers options that maximize exposure of their job postings to improve their return on investment
    • SEO and job distribution – Optimize every job for search engines, and reach candidates through social media, email, mobile channels, and sophisticated programmatic advertising.
    • Candidate screening and management – Provide employers with functionality to attract, screen, and manage applicants, including an anonymous resume bank that safeguards job seekers’ identities.
    • Advanced data, reporting, and analytics – Empower your staff with deep knowledge of job board sales, performance, and user behavior to grow membership and revenue.

    Provide a connected experience

    To create an easy, seamless, and complete experience for your members, your LMS should integrate with your career center. Here are some example scenarios of what this integration can do:

    • Your job board visitors see relevant jobs and popular, relevant, or recommended courses offered by your association that will help them become qualified for those jobs.
    • Non-members visiting your job board receive recommendations for courses tied to your association learning offerings, providing additional opportunity for new learner and member acquisition.
    • Members and non-members browsing your LMS course menu are presented with actual and relevant job opportunities they would be qualified for if they took suggested courses through your organization.
    • Upon exiting courses or receiving certifications, learners are presented with job opportunities they are now qualified for based on their new competencies or credentials.

    To go a step further, connect your online career center and your LMS with your AMS. Consider these example scenarios:

    • Learners seamlessly navigate from your website to your e-learning catalog to your member page. Any updates to user data automatically sync across your systems.
    • Create a shopping experience through e-commerce integration that allows members to purchase your association’s learning products from your association’s e-commerce store or LMS storefront. A full view of your members’ purchase history lives in your AMS.
    • Send automated emails that acknowledge what steps learners have completed, and then recommend next steps toward certification or credentialing.
    • Non-members who visit your job board and sign up as job seekers via job alerts or account registration are automatically delivered to your AMS as a list of new member prospects.
    • Members and non-members can opt in to receive intelligent job recommendations based on their AMS member profile data, such as job title and location, so they can passively search for new career opportunities.

    Take the Next Step and Create Your Own Non-Dues Revenue Strategy

    Non-dues revenue offers a stabilizing source to improve your association’s financial health. It’s important to ensure you have what you need to meet your organization’s requirements. The first step is to create a strategy to fit your unique situation and constituent base. Develop an approach that will work for your association and your members. For more details, you can also explore our comprehensive non-dues revenue guide.

    Revenue Analysis

    One of the first considerations for creating revenue-generating ideas for associations is to evaluate current revenue sources. Assess your expenses and revenue, and look at the sources of your incoming funds. You’ll need to have a comprehensive picture of your current financial situation and your needs to create the right strategy going forward. 

    Once you know your current sources of expenses and revenue, evaluate how you want them to change and what capabilities you want to have in the future. 

    Evaluate Goals and Risk Tolerance

    Setting approachable goals and managing risk is critical to an association’s ability to secure new revenue streams. Ask yourself what your long-term and short-term goals for the association are. How do you want to manage your requirements and risk? Be careful to think beyond revenue too — evaluate your wider-reaching goals, like increasing your membership base or broadening your audience, and factor them into your plan.

    Consider how important diversification is for your operations, how you want to meet member needs more effectively and how you want to position yourself in your industry. Whatever your ideas, prioritize the objectives that matter most to you and the success of your association.

    Plan and Project

    Once you know how you want to move your organization forward, you can begin planning and making projections on how you’ll get there. As you create your strategy, always keep your audience in mind and consider how to reach them most effectively. It’s also important to evaluate the costs of the ideas you’ve put together. Decide how much money you’ll need to invest in each non-dues revenue program and weigh it against your expected returns.

    As you move toward implementation, determine who will handle the work. Decide whether you have the capabilities to manage programs in-house or if you’ll need external management. You’ll also want to consider how you’ll promote your programs and what channels you’ll use to reach your target audiences.

    NetForum by Community Brands is a configurable membership management solution with credentialing and fundraising capabilities for mid-to-large sized organizations. It’s part of the integrated software suite for associations by Community Brands that includes solutions for membership management, learning management, and career center.  They work better together to help you support the complete member journey.

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