Race for Relevance

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By Whitney Thweatt, account manager

As an association management professional, I find myself constantly wondering how to improve the association and member benefits. In an age of almost limitless free resources available online, associations are faced with the daily challenge to show value and relevance to both current and potential members. What are some strategies association professionals can take to address this challenge?

The book, Race for Relevance: 5 Radical Changes for Associations, by Harrison Coerver and Mary Byers, CAE, proposes five fundamental changes in the way we think about association governance and management:

  1. Overhaul the governance model and committee operations.
  2. Empower the CEO and leverage staff expertise.
  3. Precisely define your member market.
  4. Rationalize programs and services and focus on those that have the maximum effect.
  5. Build robust technology framework.

Not sure where to start? Here are five high impact ideas to implement in your association.

5 Tips for Keeping Your Association Relevant:

  1. Members and volunteers face a work/personal life dilemma. “I don’t have time” really means “I have better things to do with my time.” Volunteers expect a return on investment of time so make sure you are offering some short-time volunteer opportunities as well as ones that are worthwhile to the volunteer.
  2. The board should focus on potential and possibilities; staff on implementation. Ideally you should have a competency-based board made up of five or six people.
  3. Specialization is key. Associations should focus on their strengths instead of trying to be all things to all members. Members will narrow their memberships to those with highest return on investment.
  4. Concentrate on the products that deliver the most value. Unused services and unneeded programs have no value. Prune obsolete services and your message becomes simpler.
  5. Every association function can be enhanced or performed via technology. Not only can automating some tasks free up staff time for other important member projects, it may also increase involvement. Find out what technologies and services your members are already using and integrate current member resources into those systems.

Want to know more about association management? Contact us info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

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