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Blog: How to Make Research a Viable Non-Dues Revenue Stream

How to Make Research a Viable Non-Dues Revenue Stream

Diversifying revenue streams and maximize their revenue-generating potential is more critical for associations than ever before. Fortunately, associations can transform research into non-dues revenue by creating a comprehensive strategy for data monetization.

What Is Non-Dues Revenue?

Non-dues revenue refers to any revenue your association generates that is not generated from member dues. Non-dues revenue typically is generated from two sources. The first is from suppliers, vendors, and advertisers. Stakeholders in these groups typically partner with associations in order to reach a community group or industry. The second source of non-due revenue is through fees for services or information such as webinars, books, certifications, branded content, subscriptions, and research. By marrying the latter two (research and subscriptions), it is possible to create sustainable profitability for your association that depends less on member retention—and can even enhance it.

How to Leverage Research for Profit

Though some not-for-profits have viewed research programs as too expensive for their budget, they can provide an excellent investment opportunity for long-term revenue generation when executed properly. 

The key is selecting a revenue-generating funding model, whereby your association does not absorb the program costs, but generates revenue through annual subscriptions and customized research fees. Under such a model, your association develops a profitable industry market report program that produces a consistent revenue stream, while also providing crucial market data and business intelligence for members. By providing research, your association can extend its value proposition and deliver critical decision-making information to current, prospective, and even lapsed members.

Keys to Successful Data Monetization

There are a few keys that will help your association use research successfully for non-dues revenue while avoiding pitfalls:

1) Consider Competition

It’s critical to ensure you are offering unique insight for your audience. Is there already an existing body of research that would directly compete with your association’s research program? Consider rival research (from other associations, industry consultants, government agencies, or private research firms) and make any needed adjustments in your research blueprint. 

2) Know When to Outsource Your Research Efforts

Though most associations outsource some or all their research, many conduct research efforts entirely in-house. When deciding whether your organization should outsource some or all its research, consider the size and skillset of your team. Evaluate whether you have the appropriate personnel and systems to support the planned research efforts. Considering the sensitivity of the data is equally important in this decision. The more sensitive the data, the more likely associations are to hire a trusted third-party research firm to conduct surveys with industry-leading security measures and best practices.

3) Consider Relevance and Appeal 

Present your research reports in a customized format while making them visually appealing, interactive, and dynamic. Highlight any related products that could also serve as potential revenue sources.

4) Provide Supplemental Materials and Resources

Boosting the perceived value proposition of your industry research program will not only increase your revenue, but also your member engagement. Offer a wide range of complementary forums and resources (including webinars, conference sessions and panel discussions) to spur discussion, enhance engagement, and add value for your participants and subscribers. 

5) Fully Promote Your Research Program and Products 

To maximize the value of your data for your member community, leverage digital marketing tools to promote your research program. Segment your membership list and promote your research through customized, benefit-focused messages to each group. Membership marketing materials can also be used to attract prospective subscribers (for example, your association can tease research findings in a press release to “hook” readers). Also, consider selling reports to other interested parties such as stakeholders along the supply chain, industry consultants, government agencies and educational institutions. 

Research and Non-dues Revenue

Are you effectively using research to generate non-dues revenue? A growing number of associations recognize the value of offering pertinent industry data and turn to Vault Consulting for a best-in-class experience. Our association expertise, paired with extensive experience in research, uniquely positions our team to meet your needs.

To learn more, please contact us for more information about our research programs for associations and nonprofits.