Like many businesses in America, these are challenging times for associations. Between tighter budgets, and changing demographics the traditional business model built on membership dues is in need of a tune-up. One way that associations meet the financial challenges created by changing demographics and tighter budgets is to seek other sources of revenue, non-dues sources of revenue. The need for non-dues revenue affects trade and professional associations alike, with the majority of associations relying heavily on non-dues revenue. On average, professional associations derive 65% of their revenue from non-dues sources, while trade associations rely on non-dues revenue for 59% of their revenue1.

Non-dues revenue streams come from a variety of sources, with the most common ones being education and certification programs, conference registrations, as well as exhibitor and sponsor fees2. Given this heavy reliance on non-dues revenue, and that many associations regard supporting and furthering their members’ careers and professional development, it is no surprise that education and certification programs are a key source of non-dues revenue.

The question then becomes how to deliver this key member benefit in a way that matches the needs and expectations of an increasingly diverse member base. With tighter travel budgets, and younger professionals who often don’t receive discretionary professional development funds, associations have to balance the expectations of older members with the needs and preferences of younger members.

For many associations, online continuing education provides the perfect answer for these challenges. Online education means associations deliver educational content on-demand, freeing members from scheduling conflicts and enabling them to get the information they need at their convenience. If in-person events are still a lucrative source of non-dues revenue, associations can generate an additional revenue boost by live-broadcasting their in-person events so those with travel budget constraints can still participate. These are just two of the many ways that online continuing education can be a significant source of non-dues revenue. Look for our upcoming blog on how to make the most from your online education program.