Agility and Diversification

By Adam Natali posted 01-14-2020 14:25


“If its main source of revenue starts to dry up, or if changing trends suggest it may not be around for much longer, an association must be prepared to pivot and change its business model — not in the future, but right now.”

- Sheri Jacobs, president and CEO of Avenue M Group

FORUM-Jan-Feb-2020.jpg In the January/February 2020 issue of FORUM, we hear from forward-thinkers blazing the trail forward for association revenue models. If you’re looking for innovative ways to diversify your portfolio, we’ve got you covered.

There was a time that less than 5% of an association’s revenue came from non-dues revenue. That time was 1953. Feel old yet?

As a share of association revenue, membership dues have plummeted in the last six decades. Dues have ceded approximately 1% of revenue share each year in that time span, leaving them with little more than 30% to 45% of the association revenue pie in 2020.

In what might be a surprising contradiction, membership is on the rise in trade and professional associations while dues are on the decline.

These concurrent trends are not as nonsensical as they may seem from the outside. Within associations, revenue has become a portfolio of products and services, and the most successful organizations have learned how to diversify to not just survive, but to thrive as member demands evolve. As members turn to associations for education, certification, training and career resources, there is a well of demand waiting to be tapped by organizations keen enough to start digging.

To get all the facts on the state of association revenues and the best advice to stay solvent, read our cover story at the new FORUM website.