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4 Tips for Generating More Non-Dues Revenue from Advertising

Download Higher Logic's customizable Sample Advertising Prospectus to help you get started launching an advertising program!

association professionals discussing advertising program

2. Make engagement growth a priority

What will potential advertisers or your marketing team want from the advertising spaces you’re offering? Views and engagement! The more eyes on their ad, the more value they get from the money they’re investing in promotion.

So, if you want to increase the interest and investment in your available advertising spaces, make increasing engagement a priority.

For example, if people aren’t opening the emails you send, have you considered creating responsive workflows with marketing automation, so that members receive content on things they’re interested in? The software accounts for their engagement level so you’re focusing your efforts on those who will be most receptive (again, that tailored content comes in clutch when pitching potential advertisers).

3. Promote, promote, promote

Once you’ve beautified your channels and amped up your engagement, it’s time for a little advertising of your own to secure paid advertisers (or, advertise your own programs).

Higher Logic created a Sample Advertising Prospectus to help you get started. We also have a few tips for getting advertisers on board:

  • Start out by reaching out to the sponsors you already trust for your events, or connect with trusted partners in the industry.
  • Research additional potential sponsors to see if other organizations might have something to offer your members.
  • Set a cadence for how often you’re going to remind your existing and potential sponsor list of upcoming advertising opportunities.
  • Keep your stats handy – when you can prove to potential sponsors and advertisers that you’re offering coveted real estate, it’s a lot easier to convince them to advertise with you.
  • Be open to conversations with and feedback from trusted partners. If one of your best advertisers tells you they’re looking for something different from what you’re currently offering, it presents an opportunity to try something new.

Listen to our podcast episode with Bruce Rosenthal, a longtime strategic advisor and consultant to associations, for more ideas to form productive and profitable sponsorship and advertising relationships. Or check out our episode with Lucas McCann – who’s worked with over 1000 associations to increase revenue and cultivate industry partnerships!


4. Use your judgement for how much advertising is too much advertising

This is the caveat to everything I’ve said so far. When you’re advertising to your members, you don’t want them to ever feel bombarded by promotion. You own the space; you can limit what you include and how much advertising you allow. If members get frustrated with the advertising, you could see a negative impact on engagement which, in turn, will have a negative impact on advertising interest. It’s a tension you need to manage with care, and mastering advertising in your online spaces can take some trial and error.

To help, think through what advertising space you have and what your members want. Will the ad you’re considering selling offer value to them?

And if you haven’t allowed promotion in the past, start small and see how it goes. Maybe start by only offering ads in the sidebars of your online community or one ad space in a weekly newsletter. The nice thing about this type of approach is that the rarity of the ads increases their value – people may be willing to pay more if the spots are limited.

Your goal should be to make the best use of the space you have without overwhelming your members and ensuring you’re still providing them value.

association team meeting to discuss advertising

Strengthen Your Association’s Non-Dues Revenue Channels

Your next step?

Consider where you’re doing well or not so well in each of these four areas. If you can get to a good level on each of them, you’re well on your way to increasing your non-dues revenue.

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Elizabeth Bell

Elizabeth Bell is the former Content Marketing Manager at Higher Logic. She’s passionate about communities, tech, and communicating about both effectively. When she’s not writing, you’ll probably find her cooking, reading, gardening, or playing volleyball.