Depending on who you ask, $90,000 could be a ton of money or it could just be a drop in the bucket. To most of our association clients, $90,000 would mean enough money to hire a moderately well skilled staff member and cover their overheads and benefits. So perhaps the better question might be, what would you do with another staff member.
I’ll leave it up to you on how to spend the $90k, but perhaps I can suggest a strategy on generating new revenue without needing to make a significant investment. This might sound too good to be true — and there is a catch — this untapped revenue source only applies to a very small percentage of associations, but if your organization fits, it could be worth a try.
- Your organization is the defacto leader in a given professional niche
- Continuing Education is demanded of professionals you serve
- There is a coveted certification exam that must be passed
- Not keeping up with continuing education or certification has financial consequences for professionals (missed promotion opportunities, lower salary, potential to lose job)
Think back to your SAT preparation or to your child’s SAT preparation. How much is spent on tutoring, after school classes, and those thick books of practice questions. The ETS might have a monopoly on standardized exams, but up until a few years ago they left it to companies like The Princeton Review and Kaplan to create mass-market practice materials. The ETS woke up though and realized that it wasn’t a total conflict of interest to also provide practice questions, they may not release as many as a third party, but they still make it a point to sell “the official” practice guide.
What will it take for your organization to do the same? If you run a big certification exam, do you think candidates will want to take practice exams? The first suggested revenue source would be to hire independent question writers to come up with legitimate practice questions. This would be a great service to your future test takers and it would also quickly add to the bottom line.
What would it cost? On average our clients spend about $10-20 per question between the initial question writing, then paying someone to review and consolidate questions. A 100 question exam would cost between $1,000 and $2,000 to produce. Our clients sell exams from $50 to $250 per candidate, and generally can target 150-500 people willing to buy practice exams. The math may not work out for everyone, for some it is just $20-30k, but others can net enough income to cover the cost of administration and to supplement revenue by a significant chunk.
To recap: if your organization is in an industry where continuing education or certification exams are very important AND it is plausible to hire good question writers at a modest cost, selling practice exams could be a low risk way to boost revenue.