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This guest post was contributed by Novi AMS.

From hosting conferences and events to providing opportunities for continuing education, your association helps your members grow in their careers and develop valuable professional relationships with one another. To continue providing these opportunities for your members, your association needs to be able to bring in revenue.

Luckily, many of the programs that your association already has in place (and perhaps some that you haven’t explored yet) all have the potential to increase your revenue. By using your association management system (AMS) and other software solutions to create new offerings for your members, improve your events, and keep your members updated on these new developments, you’re sure to find success.

Let’s take a look at some of the most efficient ways your association can increase revenue. We’ll show you how you can use your existing software systems to:

  1. Explore opportunities for generating non-dues revenue.
  2. Develop and sell continuing education courses.
  3. Host a live event or social learning opportunity.
  4. Leverage the eCommerce features available using your AMS.
  5. Use your website to keep your members updated.

While it’s likely that you’re already using your AMS to make the dues collection process more efficient, this isn’t the only source of revenue that this software solution can facilitate. Make the most of all the opportunities your AMS provides to generate non-dues revenue.

1. Explore opportunities for generating non-dues revenue.

Your AMS provides plenty of opportunities for new sources of revenue beyond membership dues. Your members can benefit from these sources in two ways: first, they fund the association programming that helps your members develop as professionals, and second, they offer their own perks to members.

Look for non-dues revenue sources that you can incorporate using your AMS and website. Members are already logging into this system on a regular basis to pay their dues, register for events, and keep an eye out for exciting news pertaining to your association. This means they’re highly likely to be receptive to additional offerings that appear there.

Your association can use your AMS and website to generate non-dues revenue by:

  • Accepting sponsorships. Sponsorships are an easy way for your association to generate revenue without spending much money or taking up too much of your team’s time. Supplier members and others can sponsor your events or add their logos to your homepage where members can see them when they go to login.
  • Featuring directory listings. Vendor members will benefit from purchasing featured listings in your online directory, where other members and website visitors from all over the internet will be able to increase publicity and sales. Featured listings are a win-win for vendor members and your association!
  • Incorporating digital advertising. When your association sells digital advertising space on your website, you keep 100% of the revenue you earn! Alternatively, you can partner with Google to sell ads and take a commission of the proceeds. Either way, you’ll increase revenue and share great products and services with your members.

When you make the most of your AMS and website, you’ll boost your association’s revenue and create additional benefits for different groups of your members at the same time. You can visit the Novi AMS guide to functional tools to learn more about how to use the features of your AMS to generate non-dues revenue.

In addition to alerting your members and site visitors to the useful products, services, and specials that other companies and members have to offer, you can foster their professional development by creating and selling continuing education courses.

2.  Develop and sell continuing education courses.

Your members care about career development and will appreciate opportunities to acquire new knowledge and develop new skills. You can help them advance in their professions—and grow your association’s revenue at the same time—by creating and selling continuing education courses through an association learning management system (LMS).

When you choose an association LMS that integrates with your AMS, your members can login to the familiar system to access available courses, make their purchases, and get started learning new skills. 

First, your association will need to:

  • Choose the right association LMS. In addition to integration with your AMS, the best LMS software solutions will feature highly customizable modules so that you can create courses that meet your learners’ specific needs and interests. Top LMS software also incorporates gamification tools and other interactive elements to keep learners engaged.
  • Automate personalized course recommendations. To boost your association’s revenue through the sale of continuing education courses, you’ll want your members to continue taking them. Choose an LMS that automates course recommendations based on individual members’ histories using the system, encouraging them to learn more about the subjects that benefit and interest them.
  • Use your AMS to track learners’ CE credits. For learners in many professional fields, their employers require a record of continuing education (CE) credits—often at least three years’ worth—to consider them for placement or advancement. Make sure that your AMS is able to track your members’ CE credits as they earn them.

Discussion boards and live chat capabilities allow members to interact and share new perspectives on the content. Your association can take these social learning opportunities one step further by hosting an event to increase revenue and further your members’ professional development.

3. Host a live event or social learning opportunity.

Conferences, live learning events, and other in-person gatherings are useful for bringing both your members and non-members together to share professional insight and learn from each other. Events also present excellent opportunities to boost revenue through ticket sales, branded merchandise, and related products and services.

If you’re apprehensive about having live events because of the amount of work that comes with planning and hosting one, it’s time to explore the time-saving features of your AMS. Your software system should be able to help you:

  • Register members for your event. A master registration list and an automated ticketing process are two AMS features that can make hosting even large events much easier. To publicize your event, make the most of the automated communications, calendars, and web page creation features your AMS has to offer.
  • Sell merchandise to increase revenue. Your members are proud to belong to your organization and would appreciate the opportunity to commemorate a successful event by taking home some quality branded merchandise. You can partner with an online design firm like Bonfire to create t-shirts and other wearable merchandise to sell at your event and online through your AMS.
  • Integrate with your association LMS ahead of your next live learning event. Live learning events encourage your members to share in the process of gaining new knowledge and skills and can be excellent supplements to their online continuing education courses. Integrate your AMS and LMS ahead of your next live learning event so that you can upload materials to your LMS after the event and encourage future online course enrollment.

Different types of events present special opportunities for increased sales of continuing education courses, branded merchandise, and other products and services. But these sales don’t have to end when your event does! Make the most of the eCommerce features of your AMS so that they’re always available to your members.

4. Leverage the eCommerce features available using your AMS.

Your association’s team is justifiably proud of the good work you do and the many ways you help your members succeed in their careers. An eStore containing custom products is a great way for members to share in that pride and spread the word about your association whenever they wear or use the merchandise. The eCommerce features of your AMS present an efficient means of increasing revenue for your association through product sales.

To motivate members to purchase branded merchandise, continuing education courses, and other products, you’ll need an AMS with a robust eCommerce system. Features to look for include:

  • Member and nonmember pricing structure. Increase revenue by offering your eStore merchandise for sale to wider online audiences at different pricing tiers. Members of your association get special discounts, while nonmembers pay regular price.
  • Donations. Asking for online donations is most effective when potential donors understand where their gifts are headed and can make those gifts conveniently. A fast and secure online donation page on your association’s website will encourage visitors to support programs that benefit your members.
  • Offline purchases. Your eCommerce features should support offline purchasing to keep track of in-person sales, like those that happen at events. In-person gatherings of your members are particularly popular places to purchase branded merchandise.

Whether you’ve created new courses for your members to learn from, are hosting an event soon, or have just put new merchandise into your eStore, you’ll want your members to have access to this information as soon as possible. Use your website to keep them updated and motivate them to buy.

5. Use your website to keep your members updated.

For many if not most of your members, your website serves as their central hub for news and information related to your association. It’s an excellent place to alert them to new opportunities for making purchases. Create a website that’s easy for your members to navigate and just as easy for your team to update.

It’s likely that your association team members are not web design experts. This is why it’s a smart idea to choose a CMS designed for associations like yours. Updating the site doesn’t require coding knowledge and you’ll be able to connect the site to your existing AMS and the information it contains.

To choose the right CMS to build your association’s website on, look for features such as:

  • An opportunity for consistent branding. You’ll encourage more member interaction and more sales through your website when it’s clearly branded to your association. Choose a CMS that lets you apply your specific theme and brand so it creates a cohesive user experience for your members. 
  • A member portal and directory. Members should be able to login to your AMS from your website to update their own information and see other members who are using the directory. Featured listings in the directory are also a good way for your association to increase revenue.
  • Mobile-responsive design. Whether they’re making purchases or completing courses on-the-go, many of your members are using their smartphones to make the most of your association’s offerings. A mobile-responsive design is essential for your members, and mobile-responsive editing features are highly useful for your association’s team to keep the site updated.

As a convenient and central location for your members to access, your website is a great place to include opportunities for boosting your revenue. For more ideas, and to learn more about choosing the right CMS for your association, click here.

When your members are engaged in various aspects of your association, they’ll be excited to participate in additional opportunities that can be excellent sources of revenue. Providing a variety of options in accessible formats is essential to making the most of these opportunities.

Increase your association’s revenue and create new opportunities for members in the process by expanding your association’s offerings. Continuing education courses, branded merchandise, and promoted products and services benefit your individual members and your association as a whole.

About the Author: Mike Pennington

Mike has used just about every sort of association software out there and brings his extensive knowledge of associations to the forefront of Novi AMS to work alongside his customers. Mike knows that associations give people the ability to create long-lasting relationships and companies the ability to grow which makes this industry so important. He has committed to knowing the ins and outs of the Novi AMS product, including QuickBooks accounting knowledge and technical components, so that he can better help his association clients help others.

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