Association Connect

How to Budget Non-Dues Revenue for 2021

By Rachel Markey | December 1, 2020

Clearly, 2020 has been a year unlike any other. And as much as we all wish we had a crystal ball for what this next year will hold, the truth is that planning will be difficult. So as associations across the nation begin budgeting for the new year, here are a few things to keep in mind about non-dues revenue—that will hopefully make things a little less unpredictable.

First, let’s talk about where most non-dues revenue typically comes from.

Most non-dues revenue for associations comes from sponsorships, meetings or tradeshows with exhibitors, professional development opportunities, and certifications. Unfortunately, most of those tactics have traditionally taken place in person. And with the uncertainty still surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine, it’s looking like we won’t be able to resume gathering in large groups anytime soon.

Find new ways to maintain value for sponsors.

Even though sponsors will no longer be able to enjoy the in-person connections they had in years past, there are still ways that associations can make sponsorship opportunities worthwhile. One of the best things you can do to help sponsors feel more love is to get them more involved in virtual events. Instead of simply introducing them, showing their logo, or ending with a 30-second plug, perhaps they could actually sit on a thought-leadership panel or host a portion of your presentation. This will help them feel more involved in the event.

For education and certifications, try spreading out your engagement, rather than relying on one large event.

While most associations used to spend a large part of the year preparing for one or two large conferences that would generate the majority of their non-dues revenue, many associations have found success in 2020 by instead offering more frequent, smaller education opportunities. A series of webinars, for example, would be a great tactic for keeping members engaged year-round. Developing a series of virtual courses to earn a certification is another great idea to try.

No matter which tactics an association chooses, factoring non-dues revenue into the budget for 2021 is as vital as always. And even though in-person events have taken a hit, there are still ways to keep members, prospective members, sponsors, and exhibitors as engaged as ever.

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