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Unlocking the World of Non-Dues Revenue with Teri Carden

Learn tips from our recent podcast episode with Teri Carden of Non Dues-a-Palooza for how your association can bring in more revenue to support your mission.

Dues Aren’t Enough Anymore

In the always-busy world of association management, staying fiscally viable and generating the finances to grow is vital. One person leading the charge in exploring new and innovative ways to generate non-dues revenue for associations is Teri Carden, the mastermind behind Non Dues-a-Palooza.

I had the pleasure of chatting with Teri on a recent episode of Higher Logic’s Member Engagement Show podcast, and she shared insights into the critical role non-dues revenue plays in keeping associations sustainable and relevant.


The Birth of Non Dues-a-Palooza

Teri observed in her content creation work that the topic of non-dues revenue was generating about 350x the engagement other topics were generating, revealing a gap in the conversation around non-dues revenue. This inspired her to create the Non Dues-a-Palooza brand and event in 2019.

Even with the pandemic hitting in March 2020 – which forced Teri to pivot from an in-person event to a virtual one (an experience I’m sure many associations can relate to!) – the inaugural event was a huge success. Since then, the community has grown to over 3,000 engaged association professionals and close to 30 sponsors at the most recent conference.


Non-Dues Revenue Ideas

Traditionally, associations heavily relied on membership dues for revenue. But times have changed since the 1950s when dues accounted for 95% of an association’s revenue. According to ASAE’s Foundation, the average association now generates only 40% of its revenue from dues, with trade associations and professional societies reporting even lower percentages.

Teri stressed alternative revenue streams are now imperative for the success of membership organizations and non-dues revenue is a major driver for associations and the industries and professions they serve. On the show, she laid out several examples of potential non-dues revenue streams that associations could consider:

  • Investment income
  • Facility rental
  • Affinity programs
  • Online learning
  • Credentialing and certification
  • Job boards
  • White papers and surveys
  • Book and eBooks
  • Live events
  • Virtual events

This diversity of revenue streams helps associations be highly adaptable, respond to trends, and thrive in a dynamic environment.

We're delighted to have Teri joining us for Super Forum 2024 to share more non-dues revenue strategies! Join us April 10-12, 2024, for 60+ breakout sessions, workshops, and product deep dives designed to help associations explore trends and strategies for creating engaging member experiences and driving member retention. And save $200 when you register before February 2!

Highlights from Non Dues-a-Palooza 2023

Reflecting on this year’s Non Dues-a-Palooza, some of the most exciting offerings included four half-day workshops covering:

  • Sales – and the misconception that sales is only vital in for-profit organizations.
  • Corporate sponsorships – matchmaking F1000 companies with associations doing mission-based projects.
  • Growth mindsets – adopting a culture open to re-evaluation and change, from leadership down to the volunteer level.
  • Monetizing virtual events – and recapturing a great deal of money that’s being left on the table.

The event also included sessions on:

  • How non-dues revenue programs can be enhanced using AI
  • The results of Non Dues-a-Palooza’s incubator experiment in which two association executives who were coached for six months shared their wins and challenges
  • An “Interesting Conversations” game that illustrated how sponsors can be showcased in a fun way.

Non-Dues Pop-ups Conveniently at a City Near You

Always at the forefront of innovation, Teri revealed she’s shaking things up for Non Dues-a-Palooza next year. There won’t be one major Non Dues-a-Palooza conference in the coming year. Instead, there will be multiple Non Dues-a-Palooza popups in various cities. These 3- to 4-hour workshops will focus on specific non-dues revenue topics such as digital assets, data monetization, learning management, and fundraising. Attendees will be able to interact in a more intimate setting and walk away with an actionable playbook.

This shift is based on Teri’s research and observation of what association professionals need now, and early participants have shared that the format is incredibly effective and valuable, allowing them to benefit more in a shorter amount of time than they’ve experienced through other event formats.

The Only Buckets Sponsors Care About

At the end of our episode, Teri shared one final bit of advice. Sponsors are primarily looking for three things; leads, thought leadership, and brand awareness. Your offerings should be focused on those wants. If an offering doesn’t land in one of those three buckets, it’s probably not worth doing. You should also pursue balance in your offerings between the three buckets. Hitting those sponsor needs will create meaningful partnerships that benefit both parties.

Teri looks forward to continuing her innovative approach and commitment to fostering meaningful non-dues revenue conversations that will shape the future of association management. Non Dues-a-Palooza, with its evolving format and engaging content, is itself an example of the kind of resilience and adaptability associations must exhibit to remain financially strong and useful to their members.

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Kelly Whelan

Kelly Whelan is the Content Marketing Manager for Higher Logic. In this role, she develops content to support association professionals and advise them on member engagement and communication strategy. She also hosts Higher Logic’s podcast, The Member Engagement Show. She has ~10 years of experience working in marketing for associations and nonprofits.