For professional associations, member acquisitions and the resulting dues are a major source of sustainable income. But executive directors are quickly realizing that they’re not enough. Instead, it’s critical to develop new sources of income. While continuing to grow your membership base is a good strategy, it’s also important to find creative ways to generate more revenue from existing members and potentially serve the large healthcare industry as well. Here’s a closer look at some different strategies health associations are using to generate revenue.
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Professionals join organizations for three primary reasons: to expand their networks, raise the profile of their companies and cultivate business opportunities, and learn best practices. Even with the explosion of webinars and social media, few opportunities are as concentrated as conferences for allowing attendees to do all three. Conferences can be a substantial money maker for associations, including attendance fees, fees for exhibiting, and enrollment for optional workshops and training.
Another valuable source of revenue for professional associations is in-service training. Increasingly, health organizations need training along every dimension, from ongoing professional education for nurses to training on social media management for hospital administrators. Determining what needs exist in your market and how best to fill them with in-service training can create revenue streams in the form of courses, workshops, seminars, webinars, and home-study programs.
Content marketing has become increasingly important for organizations. But it’s not just free content that’s helping health associations stand out; many are investing in very high-quality, exclusive content that’s geared at specific audiences. If the content delivers enough value, it’s possible to get people to pay, either on a subscription basis or by purchasing specific reports. Individuals might be willing to purchase a dedicated report on salary and benefits for nurses around the country, for example, while organizations might purchase an ongoing magazine that explores the latest in diabetic treatment, recruitment strategies for doctors, or other specialized and relevant information that’s hard to find elsewhere.
Does your association publish regular content, either in the form of a magazine, newsletter, or dedicated content site? Consider establishing an advertising program that would allow vendors interested in connecting with your audience to advertise products or services that meet with your approval. Packages can include printed ads, digital ads, banners on your website, and paid profiles or sponsored blog posts. Over time, advertising revenue streams can be lucrative, while allowing you to introduce your audience to products and services that they find valuable.
Another level to offering training is to create and manage dedicated certification programs. If there is a need in your space for a specific kind of deeper training and industry recognized certification, this can create an important revenue stream. Associations typically develop the standards, training, testing, and recertification as needed for specific programs. Certifications are available in everything from specialized clinical techniques to administrative and interpersonal functions.
Finding ways to grow your organization’s revenue stream is an important and ongoing challenge. Thinking beyond member dues to ways that you can offer training, events, content, and even certification serves two goals. It allows you to grow your organization, while also offering increasingly value to your members.