Why Technology Can Help Small-Staff Associations Boost Nondues Revenue

A new report finds small associations want more nondues revenue but haven’t focused on achieving it. To remedy that, report authors recommend quick tech fixes to bring in more money.

Small associations are eager to boost nondues revenue but have little time to devote to the task, finds a new report from Community Brands. Its authors say small associations can prime the nondues revenue pump by taking advantage of technology—without forking over a lot of extra time or money.

The Benchmark Report surveyed 350 professionals at small associations, defined as having 10 or fewer staff, and found that while they felt nondues revenue was important, they spent little time cultivating it.

“I think it boiled down to the lack of resources,” said Dan Gaertner, executive vice president of membership solutions at Community Brands. “They only had so many resources on the small staff.”

Gaertner said small-staff associations should let technology help them reach their nondues revenue goals. “I think for small associations, anything they are spending a lot of manual effort on today, there is a technology out there to help them simplify it,” Gaertner said.

Those seeking a quick influx of nondues revenue should try a simple tech tool that helps members and adds revenue for the association. “I think the job board is easiest,” Gaertner said. “What will happen is the employers looking for candidates will pay them a premium to get in front of their niche audience. When [employers] post on Google or or Indeed, they are getting people looking for a job. They want the passive people who are happy in their job but could be persuaded to change. It raises the quality of candidates.”

Gaertner said the job board requires almost zero staff time or monetary outlay. “Most of the companies provide the service for you, and they have a staff that works on your behalf to get jobs on your site,” he said. “They take a revenue share. You reap the benefits for yourself. It’s a very easy to step-in model.”

Next Level

For associations able to devote more time to it, Gaertner said evaluating technology currently used can allow staff to make changes that will boost nondues revenue. “I think the bigger story might be combining some of the technology used across the association and creating that seamless experience,” Gaernter said. “[Members] log into the AMS and log into a separate social community. It is really hard for associations to leverage what they’re learning and retarget members when it comes to a fundraising event or a meeting.”

When associations evaluate whether they are using multiple disparate systems for tasks that could be done by a single system, they often find it would be cheaper to switch to a single system. “I think the story is it’s less of a cost,” Gaertner said. “Small staff are using multiple technology companies. It adds up over time.”

Small-staff associations should also make sure their technology is directing members to their sources of nondues revenue, like classes, conferences, publications, and other ancillaries. Using technology this way saves staff time and brings in extra revenue, Gaertner said.

“As you work with the vendor, ask them the right questions: ask them about suggested flow,” he said. “If I just registered for an event and am checking out, what happens next? Do I just get a confirmation email? Maybe the next step is an add on package, like a T-shirt or publication.”

Finally, Gaertner noted that technology helps free up time for staff to devote to more in-depth tasks, so associations should think about ways to cut out the time-killing tasks that are easily automated.

“For example, some people are doing manual silent auctions,” Gaertner said. “There are so many easy to step-in, cheap models for auction software. It would be a lot more successful, because it’s easy for members to engage online, or make a bid for an item online.”

How is your small-staff association using technology to increase its nondues revenue? Let us know in the comments.

(MicroStockHub/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Rasheeda Childress

By Rasheeda Childress

Rasheeda Childress is a former editor at Associations Now. MORE

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