The Association Dilemma
Associations are watching a number of key members nearing retirement. In addition, Young Professionals do not see the need to gather in person to gain industry information. Professionals are also moving in and out of the industry with career changes.
Board members and association staff feel a responsibility to membership so there are considerations such as:
- Budgetary Constraints
- Searching for appropriate non-dues revenue
- Member time constraints
- Volunteer time limitations
How Can Associations Adapt:
- Communication: Communication does not have to be expensive. Each Association needs to define its unique value and assure monthly communication, including online invitations to events, keeping up website calendars, print materials at meetings and new potential member communications.
- Know your audience and their time commitments: Some best practices are: * Annual surveys to ask membership about convenient meeting times and locations. (Membership changes over time so do not assume what worked in the past will work today!)
* Offer specifics in your surveys. For instance, do not ask, “What is the best time for you to meet?’. Instead ask, “Please select the best times for you to meet: 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., or 12:00 to 1:30 p.m., or 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.”
- Socials are an important part of the association experience and a great way to welcome potential members.
* Hold socials at local venues who can offer discounts or space for larger groups.
* Large, expensive dinners are no longer as attractive to Young Professionals as being a part of a changing growing community.
- Communicate to current membership the need to welcome new members by attending social functions, at least a couple of times a year. Nobody sells the organization more than current, engaged members!
- Variety in programming is also key. Pick some educational topics and some lighter topics for organizational anniversaries, holiday season or end of the year gatherings.
- Communicate educational seminars with a marketing flare. Flex your creative muscles to entice members and potential members.
- Keep communication lists active and up-to-date. If someone brings a guest to a meeting, assure there is someone in your organization who can capture the information and add the guest as a potential new member. Make sure the guest receives invitations to future events.
- Make sure there are incentives to join the organization, such as member and non-member event fees, membership contact information for members only, and members only special events.
- Create mentorship programs for larger companies so existing members see a reason to invite colleagues and young professionals.
- Lastly, create committee opportunities for young professionals. It will attract and engage new members while creating a succession plan for volunteers and the board of directors.