VIDEO: Tips to Diversify Your Non-Dues Revenue Streams

By Written by FORUM Magazine editors.

Hands reaching to create charts and images that say "non dues revenue"

This video was created by FORUM Magazine to answer your questions about non-dues revenue diversification. Nikki Palluzzi, CAE, Director of Member Services and Experience at the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), interviews Ed Burzminski, President of Chamber Marketing Partners. Watch the video for tips on diversifying your non-dues revenue, including:

  • Why non-dues revenue diversification is important
  • How the pandemic plays a role in non-dues revenue streams
  • How publications can generate non-dues revenue
  • The importance of hiring the right people to help create your non-dues revenue, including publications.
  • How to find out what your members need
  • And more!

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If you’d prefer to read the article, see the transcript below:

Nikki Palluzzi: Hi everyone. My name is Nikki Palluzzi. I am the director of member services and experience at an organization called NAPFA, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors. And I am located in Chicago.

Ed Burzminski: I’m Ed Burzminski, president of Chamber Marketing Partners, a company that helps chambers of commerce and other associations generate substantial non-dues revenue through using publications. We also help associations learn about non-dues revenue ideas through a podcast at

Nikki Palluzzi: Excellent, so today we’re going to be talking about non-dues revenue diversification. And so the first question that I have for you, Ed is, why is non-dues revenue diversification so important for organizations?

Ed Burzminski: An organization can’t necessarily rely solely on dues’ revenue, particularly after 2020, when non-dues revenue kind of caved and collapsed for most organizations. My lens is through a chamber of commerce and events just went away. So a big percentage of non-dues revenue just collapsed for a lot of associations. So diversifying your revenue streams is critical. If one collapses there’ll be others that will make up for the shortfall. In my experience, publications can be very, very substantial Non-Dues Revenue generators, particularly when they have a point and a purpose to produce a publication because that’s what we’ve always done. I think that’s a losing proposition.

Publications have to have a point. They have to have a message and they have to have a specific targeted audience. With that said, once that’s kind identified, a chamber of commerce in Florida, just completed ad sales on a community guide and destination guide publication, they generated $91,000 on ad sales and their return, meaning after all the expenses that they are going to have is 27%, which is 20 thousand dollars saying the math. I’m not a good math guy, something along those lines in Texas, a chamber that generated $74,000 in ad sales in their community guide and business directory. Their return is 27% also, and they’re doing it as a quote in-house project, hire a project manager where the advertisers pay the chamber.That kind of direction is almost a paradigm shift where an organization is taking on a project. That’s not part of their core competency, but it generates revenue. I think to take it on without having the expertise is going outside of your core competency. And that becomes really challenging, but hiring the right people, finding the right people as consultants, contractors, to help guide you along that process is critical

Nikki Palluzzi: When associations are pursuing Non-Dues Revenue. And when they’re thinking about diversifying their revenue streams, what is important for them to know when they’re going into that exercise

Ed Burzminski: Take stock of what resources that organization has available to serve its members. Number one, and number two, find out what the pain points are for your particular membership. I’m not a big proponent of build it and they will come. Not many of us are Steve jobs and can come up with iPhones. I think it’s more important to find out from your constituents, from the community that you serve, what problems are your members facing and then categorize them so that you can kind of get stock of these are the top three issues that my constituents are facing. What can we, as an organization do to address those issues and go from there. And I think that’s by, by solving a problem, you’re providing value. And when you’re providing value, you don’t have to sell, you know, you don’t have to pitch you’re solving a problem. And that creates value and relevance as an organization.

Nikki Palluzzi: Yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense, I know that even just as someone who talks to members and volunteers all the time, understanding that there are segments to every association and understanding those different segments and speaking specifically to their needs helps create a stickier relationship and makes them more interested in the value that you can provide for them.

Ed Burzminski: You can talk all about the features that your organization has, but unless you’re asking questions and understanding what that perspective new members’ needs are, you’re only talking about features versus connecting, understanding what their needs are and then solving their problems. And you have a long term member.

Nikki Palluzzi: Absolutely agree. So we talked a little bit about how you would approach talking about Non-Dues Revenue diversification, or how to get connected to different segments with perspective or new members, but what about members who have been around for a long time or folks who are already bought in, but you want to talk to them about the new programs or new things that you have to offer to them.

Ed Burzminski: I think it’s important before reaching out to understand, to go back reread notes, even if those notes are old, talk to other people in your own organization, do they have any insight into that long term member or that re existing member, it’s difficult sometimes not to get into a pitch, but it could be presented as something that the chamber is doing and you asking them for their opinion. You know, you’re a long term member in our organization and we are rolling out a new program and we, before we roll it out, we’d like to have your thoughts on this program, or we’re rolling it out. And we’d like to make it better asking that member, that long term member to participate in something that you’re putting together and to have their input and have their feedback. And people like to feel that they’re part of a process they’re, they’re being asked for their advice and for their input.

Nikki Palluzzi: I also think this idea of making sure that you engage not only newer perspective members, but people who have been around a long time goes a long way because you know, people see when there are offers to new members or things to entice new members, but they feel like, what about me? I’ve been around all this time, what are you doing for me? And so I think this is a good way, like you said, to include them in the process and make them feel like you’re looking for maybe not their sign off or blessing, but in a way their approval or their opinion about what it is that you’re trying to do that’s new.

Ed Burzminski: I think with any member that you have in your association, at least once, if not once a quarter, if you can manage it, have an outreach, have a contact, have a phone call and not just an email, email is so impersonal. The road less traveled now is the road of conversation is the road of dialogue. I think that dialogue engages dialogue, keeps members involved and dialogue makes a person feel that they’re valued. You took the time to call and talk to them. And maybe even seeing a video call, but taking that time to even have a 10 minute chat reinforces that that organization cares about me or they’re more than they care about me, they value my input and value my feedback.

Nikki Palluzzi: And I think that’s so important. I think that’s what people are looking for, that value of their feedback. And they want to give back to the community as much as they want to get things from the community. So that two way intersection, I think, is very important to our associations and their members.

What strategies do you think based on everything you’ve said and just your experience in general, do you think that associations should be exploring in 2022 and beyond given the past couple of years that we’ve had here.

Ed Burzminski: We make our buck nickel at a time these days, and the big revenue generators are few and far between we’re building back up to those, we’re building back up to 2019 economic strength, whatever your association and is whatever your strengths are, bring the members in, give them visibility, have them talk, have them do a lunch and learn monetize it. And again, going through the perspective of a chamber of commerce, some chambers have pivoted to industry round tables, where they’re bringing members from different industries, even the same industries together, competitors together to talk about issues that they’re having. And then you can monetize that. Monetizing is a very important component to generating non-dues revenue, of course, but you have to create something of value to monetize first. And that goes back again to the original point, ask questions, find out what the problems are, what are the challenges that your members are facing?, and look to solve those problems.

Nikki Palluzzi: The other thing that I heard from you ed, is that now is not really a time to be complacent. It’s time to really be creative and to think about some of those things that we can do that we, we didn’t think about, or we couldn’t do two years ago because we weren’t in that same environment.

Ed Burzminski: Now is the time to create opportunities. Try not to be isolated as an organization or as an individual. Who’s running an organization as a professional in the organization. Oh my gosh. She could be so daunting, especially if revenue is collapsing or revenue’s just not where it’s where it needs to be. And if you’re the CEO or the executive director of that organization, your thought is, I going to have to lay off and get, ask questions, ask your peers, look out into other organizations, what they’re doing, how they’re generating non-dues revenue and connect with zoom, create webinars, talk about things that you know, share your knowledge, that’s actually another key component, share knowledge. Don’t hold it close to the vest. People want to learn, and people are attracted to you if you’re sharing information that’s of value to them, we have the tools. You don’t need an expensive microphone. You use your earbuds, use your phone, record little videos about things that you know how to do, or your organization does talk about one or things, create little short videos, post them on YouTube, link them to your website, again if you’re an individual, if you’re a small association or even if you’re a gigantic association, people will listen to that. You’re sharing knowledge, you’re sharing information and you’re creating value, and you’re creating a place where people will come back to, oh, what are they going to tell me next? I want to know.

Nikki Palluzzi: I think this has been great. I’ve been taking notes the whole time ed, because so many of the things that you say are so applicable to my own work here at NAPA, and I’m sure amongst the peers of the other folks that I know in the association landscape. So I appreciate you taking the time so much and thank you for sharing all your valuable knowledge with us.

Ed Burzminski: Sure. Happy to help.



Written by FORUM Magazine editors.

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