5 Essential Resource Generation Strategies
Associations target their principal stakeholder group or external stakeholder groups to generate resources for the association. Association Laboratory’s research has identified five (5) essential resource strategies which encompass how most associations successfully create resources designed to fund the Mission.
Resource generation strategies are designed to create net revenue for the association to fund the strategies that are principally designed to accomplish the goals of the Mission. Association Laboratory’s research has identified revenue generation strategies focused on the primary markets of the association (internal stakeholders) and on secondary or tertiary groups (external stakeholders) who are less central to the Mission but who may be important to the overall success of the association through financial or other contributions.
Internal stakeholder revenue strategies focus on the primary stakeholder group directly served by the association in support of the Mission. The three principal strategies are:
- Membership strategies - rely on a strong sense of professional or industry affiliation between members of a group. They are characterized not only by a bundle of tangible benefits but emotional benefits as well, such as “supporting the industry” or “contributing to the profession.” It is the affiliation with the group that is the driving motivation.
- Bundled product strategies – rely on the market’s natural affinity to purchase a bundle of products instead of individual purchases because of convenience or cost savings. While similar to membership strategies on the surface, the motivations are related to product features/benefits; the emotional benefits of affiliation are weaker or nonexistent.
- Single product strategies - rely on the desire for a specific solution to a specific problem by an individual target market or audience. An example of this is a magazine with information on industry trends that may appeal to a larger group of individuals with an interest in the topic, but without a shared affiliation with other individuals or companies within the group.
There are three principal benefits provided through Internal Stakeholder Revenue Strategies:
- Price discounts (ex: registration, publications)
- Access to otherwise restricted information (ex: journal, private newsletter)
- Ability to participate in otherwise restricted activity (ex: volunteer for committee, standards development, online community)
The critical success factor is balancing these three benefits across the primary stakeholder audience.
Associations also commonly pursue two additional strategies that focus on secondary or tertiary audiences less central to the Mission:
- Market service strategies - rely on activities that provide direct support of primary or secondary market needs. Examples would include consulting services, government grants, etc. The association’s strategic focus in these strategies is to act as the direct service provider in exchange for revenue from a source external to the primary stakeholder group.
- Market access strategies - rely on the association’s role as a gatekeeper to a market. Examples would include sponsorship, affinity programs, etc. The association represents an independent, objective access point to a market. Organizations who wish to access this market use the association as a conduit.
Key success factors for these strategies include:
- Understanding the market value of the primary stakeholder group.
- Having sufficient internal or contracted expertise to fulfill the delivery of a market service strategy.
These five strategies are not mutually exclusive. A strong portfolio of revenue generation strategies supporting the Mission provides for a diverse revenue stream.
The danger is in relying too strongly or in overestimating the worth of a single strategy.