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Sector and AuSAE News

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  • 09 Jul 2020 9:18 AM | Abby Fields (Administrator)

    We hear it every day: 2020 has thrown curve balls that no one has ever experienced before. We need to work from home, we need to meet in limited numbers, we need to change how our events will function, we need to social distance, the list goes on. Teams have adapted quickly to the change of work environment and meeting online. But should process improvements or projects be changed or cancelled that were being undertaken to allow the business to work smarter?

    Remote working, streamed events, offsite data access: the importance of moving processes online has never been so great. Although there is fear and insecurity as to what lies ahead, there is a degree of certainty that IT needs will only increase. For associations, a central, cloud-based server (such as SharePoint) with all staff able to access it is paramount, along with ensuring all membership data is current and not reliant on multiple spreadsheets.

    Have you considered: How well your database is functioning? Are there errors that require countless work arounds that only some team members are aware of? For many, this may be the first time they have worked without any supervision or support at the next desk. Do you know what is the level of knowledge a staff member has? Does this complement their skill level based on their job description?

    Over the last three to four months many associations have elected to place their database updates on hold as there is an unfounded belief that staff will not be able to cope with the change or workload. It is in fact, the perfect time to complete upgrades and involve a staff development project, killing two birds with one stone.

    With remote working and the implementation of an IT project, it is recommended team members should be documenting their day to day job, the difficulties they face with either a lack of knowledge or the system not functioning properly and detailing any other processes identified that could be more efficient and effective. Addressing knowledge gaps with peer-to-peer or team training sessions also contributes to connection and camaraderie during these strange times. The next step to consider together as a team, is the long-term result of leaving processes as they are.

    Many have found that they are more efficient working from home and have capacity to take on additional projects. Again, this is the perfect time to be documenting processes, upskilling colleagues, testing systems for weaknesses and consider trialling or making the changes previously discussed. These actions will not only build a robust suite of systems and processes, but an upskilled, educated and engaged team who have supported the changes in the organisation.

    When considering delaying, ‘quarantining’ or shelving needs-based projects, remember that the database and system issues will still plague the staff despite them working from home and the member experience won’t improve. Focus on the outcome of the projects and ask yourself if they can really be delayed indefinitely. Enhancing your IT resources are one of the few investments that will help you work effectively now and into the future, and help you come out ahead at the end of all of this. Whenever that may be.

    Gillian Morgan, Director of MorGo Online, specialises in IT development and support for associations and their Association Management Systems. After a decade of experience working in associations herself, Gillian’s next career step was with IVT, an Australian company specialising in building and maintaining Association databases. This has provided Gillian with a high level of experience and understanding of Associations and business needs. From determining a clients' needs, documenting and advising Boards, ongoing client support and looking for growth in an Association via their database, Gillian can support your team, determine solutions, troubleshoot issues and is able to translate “IT speak.” Gillian has a Masters in IT Management through Southern Cross University and MorGo Online has been a committed Industry Partner with AuSAE for four years. Check out Gillian's tips for association databases. To get in contact with Gillian, phone 0407 004 369 or email

  • 08 Jul 2020 5:46 PM | Kerrie Green (Administrator)

    Enterprise Care and REMSMART today announced a new strategic alliance, launching Australia’s most comprehensive online remuneration portal for the not-for-profit (NFP) sector. The first of its kind in Australia, this interactive digital platform will support NFPs in shaping defensible pay strategies and attracting high performing talent.

    The alliance will see the digital transformation of Enterprise Care’s esteemed annual NFP remuneration report to a dynamic online salary portal powered by REMSMART. Enterprise Care’s new cloud-based dashboard report will continue to collate research from the hundreds of organisation’s across the aged care, charity, professional, industry, humanitarian, healthcare, sporting and community sectors and reinvent the customer experience, enabling instant accessible remuneration data, searchable across specific criteria, including role, sector and location.

    “Not-for-profits at their essence are stewards of external funding, whether that be from government, members or private donors,” said Damien Smith AM, Managing Director of Enterprise Care, a consulting firm with vast experience in the not-for-profit sector. “And justifying their renumeration strategy is a big part of effective stewardship.”

    “We are thrilled to be working with REMSMART to enable Australian NFPs to more effectively dissect, report and benchmark pay decisions across their organisation and, in doing so, ensure their teams have the best chance of success.”

    Founded in 1999, the Enterprise Care Not-For-Profit Remuneration Report is Australia’s longest running and highly valued NFP salary survey. It takes in data from a broad spectrum of the country’s $140 plus billion dollar sector, including salary averages from CEOs, CFOs, program managers, human resources, marketing and administration, plus many others.

    Allan Feinberg, Managing Director of REMSMART said of the project, “There are a lot of opportunities for Boards to be more attuned with their governance practices around pay rates. Our new strategic alliance represents a perfect marriage of expertise—merging both Enterprise Care’s in depth knowledge of the NFP sector and our proficiency in remuneration design and reporting, packaged and hosted within our proven platform to easily interrogate and analyse data.”

    An Australia-wide consultancy, REMSMART provides salary benchmarking data and insights to professional services firm BDO to inform their consulting services. Their comprehensive data is also utilised by HR professionals, remuneration committees and Boards from mining and metals, and ASX listed companies for competitive retention and reward decisions. Adding to REMSMART’s suite of remuneration portals, including Board & Executive and Mining & Metals pay surveys, this new innovation is scheduled for delivery in October.

    For more information about the Enterprise Care Not-For-Profit Remuneration Portal, powered by Remsmart, visit

        ENDS —


    Damien Smith AM

    Enterprise Care Pty Ltd

    T: +61 (0) 418 325 781

    Founded in 1988, Enterprise Care’s purpose is “the intelligence of positive social impact”. Working with not-for-profit, government and commercial organisations, Enterprise Care is focussed on delivering practical solutions enabling positive transformational change.  Whatever the issue - governance, remuneration, legal, people or organisational performance management, Enterprise Care works with Boards, directors, CEOs and senior staff to ensure the sustainable transformation of all types of organisations. Recently Enterprise Care launched Governance Intelligence® audits, which allows the diagnosing of an organisation’s governance issues and designing a pragmatic and workable strategy to improve the organisation’s performance and achieve a positive outcome.

    REMSMART is a subscription-based ‘in the cloud’ remuneration survey platform for the mining and metals sector and ASX listed companies, bringing together survey insights and people expertise to provide an accessible total reward solution. Its up-to-date and function specific remuneration portals provide validation and peer group benchmarking for competitive retention and reward decisions. Trusted by HR professionals, Boards and Remuneration Committees, REMSMART’s user-friendly dashboard is backed by personal and accessible support, at an affordable subscription rate to keep businesses in step with the market.

  • 08 Jul 2020 5:44 PM | Kerrie Green (Administrator)

    The Australasian Society of Association Executives (AuSAE) Board of Directors invite you to attend the Annual General Meeting. The AuSAE Annual General Meeting will be held on Thursday 30 July 2020 from 12.00pm (AEST) and will take place via Zoom Meeting. 

    To register to attend the meeting please email and meeting instructions will be sent directly. 

    If you are unable to attend but would like to appoint a proxy, please download your proxy appointment form.

    The Annual General Meeting is a time to celebrate and reflect on AuSAE’s achievements during the last calendar year and to discuss future plans.

    We look forward to welcoming you to the 2020 AuSAE AGM. 

  • 08 Jul 2020 10:43 AM | Kerrie Green (Administrator)

    A recent conversation on diversity, equity, and inclusion put a spotlight on the hard work associations are doing. The next step should address how leadership mirrors those ambitions.

    Last week, leaders from 11 associations convened over Zoom to talk about the work that they’re doing on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). It’s a conversation that’s been stoked, of course, by the protests following the murder of George Floyd. And though most of the participants’ organizations have been doing this work for years, one theme that emerged from the 90-minute conversation, facilitated by Vista Cova’s Lowell Aplebaum, FASAE, CAE, is that there’s still more work to be done.

    More to the point, it’s not the kind of work that an association leader can do alone. Richard Yep, FASAE, CAE, CEO of the American Counseling Association, noted that checking his ego at the door is essential to the DEI work his staff has undertaken.

    “I think most of us realize that our job isn’t to have everybody take on our vision, but for us to cultivate what their vision is and how we mold that into something that makes sense for our members and for our staffs,” he said. “I have lots of ideas, but it really isn’t about me, it’s about those that I work with.”

    Those staff-wide commitments to diversity, and a willingness to consider new ideas, has borne fruit among the meeting’s participants. Organizations like the Illinois CPA Society, Society for Neuroscience, and International Association of Fire Chiefs have scholarship and mentoring programs for emerging professionals in their fields. (As does ASAE, which also participated in the event.) The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and Association Forum have created online resources for both staff and members alike to strengthen their sense of cultural awareness.

    But one statement made during the event seemed to both tie together the efforts that were shared while also delivering a challenge to every association pursuing DEI in earnest. Rob Henry, vice president of education at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, shared CASE’s experience with a leadership pipeline program focused on supporting future senior-level professionals, which he prefaced by saying this: “Until we change leadership, this will not matter. I believe people are committed to diversity, but they are more committed to their cultures. And what we have to do is bring in more diverse leaders who will change the culture.”

    If there is indeed still work to be done, especially in nonprofitdom, it’s there. One study suggests that representation of people of color on nonprofit boards and the CEO office is in the single digits; another shows that 27 percent of nonprofit boards are entirely white. According to a 2019 report from Nonprofit HR, nearly half of all nonprofits (42 percent) say their staffs are not reflective of the communities they serve.

    As I wrote last week, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented an opportunity for organizations to rethink those dismal numbers as part of the larger strategic conversations that they’re under pressure to have now. The fact that nearly a dozen associations convened in an atmosphere of urgency to address DEI issues marks a meaningful shift in the industry: It moves the subject away from the periphery of the association world and closer to the center.

    But keeping it there—especially when it comes to critical improvements like creating more diverse boards—requires a lot of patience and intentionality. That the current moment may spark more direct and open conversations among staffs and members about where their efforts have fallen short is a good thing. The next and more meaningful step is to take what’s learned and build leadership pipelines that reflect the diversity that every organization is striving toward.

    This article was sourced directly from Associations Now here, and is written by Mark Athitakis. 

  • 08 Jul 2020 10:40 AM | Kerrie Green (Administrator)

    From installing Google AMP to giving the long tail some appreciation, here are a few tactics that can help you boost your traffic from major search engines.

    Search traffic is an old, consistent standby, but it sometimes gets less attention than newer, more attractive sources of traffic. That means many organizations aren’t taking full advantage of search to draw an audience—and that could be costing them opportunities to make an impact or drive new membership.

    So how do you fix that problem? You try a few things to boost your search engine optimization, or SEO. A few ideas:

    Install Google AMP. AMP, which aims to cut down the size and load times of mobile pages, has been around for a few years now. It has at times been controversial, but it can generate lots of traffic—The Guardian is one big success story. Implementing Google AMP requires some work, in part because you’re creating a new template in a custom format, but depending on your content—news, for example, has traditionally done well—you might get more eyeballs on your work with AMP.

    Focus on long-tail keywords. When fewer people are talking about something, it’s easier to stand out as a top content source on the topic. According to Yoast CEO Marieke van de Rakt, this strategy draws fewer—but more engaged—users. “It is much easier to rank for long-tail keywords than for more common keywords because fewer websites compete for high rankings in the result pages of Google,” she explains in a blog post. “The longer (and more specific) search terms are, the easier it is to rank for the term. Because of the vastness of the internet, it is easier to find your audience for your particular niche.”

    Add structured data to your content. Structured data allows search engines to add layers of context to results—for example, the time of your next webinar, or information such as your address or phone number. Structured data is not a factor in placement in Google search results, notes Search Engine Journal, but it adds value where it shows up and can lead to better sales or improvement in other metrics. “It is likely any traffic increases after [structured data] implementation is due to increased [click-through rate] from improved appearance of search results,” writer Mark Traphagen explains.

    Improve page load times. All those widgets and doodads can help your site look snazzy, but they can really drag down how quickly your page loads. And that could be a big problem in the coming months. As Business 2 Community writer Garry Grant noted last month, Google is increasingly using speed as a metric for ranking sites, especially on mobile. “Page speed is a significant factor for search engines such as Google,” he writes. “If your site takes too long to load, users will abandon your site, and search engines look at that. This is the case for both mobile and desktop versions of your website. They both need to load quickly.”

    How can you ensure quicker speeds? Grant suggests compressing photos and using lighter image formats where possible, as well as using a content delivery network and browser caching. Google is looking at this issue closely and says it will down-rank poor “page experience” starting next year in an effort to boost page quality.

    This article was sourced directly from Associations Now here, and is written by Ernie Smith. 

  • 08 Jul 2020 10:35 AM | Kerrie Green (Administrator)

    While many nonprofits have floundered during the COVID-19 crisis, a new report highlights some of the qualities that have helped organizations thrive despite these difficult times.

    While some associations have struggled to survive due to the COVID-19 pandemic, others have managed to thrive, pivoting their resources to meet member needs. A new report from BDO, Nonprofit Standards: A Benchmarking Survey, includes a section on what has helped nonprofits thrive during the pandemic.

    “Organizations that are unable to adapt to the current environment and prepare for the next crisis risk having to close their doors and abandon their mission, while those that can stay resilient in the face of uncertainty will be able to forge ahead into our collective ‘new normal,’” the report said.

    The report divided organizations into three categories: thriving, sustaining, and struggling. It found “thrivers” had several things in common: having six months in reserves, spending 80 percent of expenditures on program-related activities, and investing in new technology.

    Andrea Wilson, BDO’s Nonprofit & Education Advisory Services leader, discussed what associations can learn from the report about being thrivers in today’s uncertain times.

    “I think that one of the big factors of the thrivers is the financial reserves,” Wilson said. “Fifty-eight percent of thrivers had over six months of reserves. The reserve factor is a significant indicator on whether organizations can go on and thrive.”

    But reserves are an either-or prospect. Either an organization had them prior to the pandemic, or it didn’t. For organizations that didn’t have the cushion of reserves, it doesn’t mean they can’t pivot and do well. Wilson said that using technology can help organizations find more success during the COVID-19 crisis.

    “Technology was a significant factor in organizations being able to sustain operations in a remote environment under COVID-19,” Wilson said.

    Nonprofits that thrived with technology didn’t just have it and pivot to remote, they examined their needs and determined the ways to best deploy technology to meet those needs.

    “For a lot of organizations, their traditional delivery method is not sustainable in the COVID environment,” Wilson said. “They asked, ‘How do we lean into our mission, providing alternative programs or augment the programs we already have?’ By answering that, they figured out how to not only maintain the mission of the organization but also the relevance of the organization in the current world we are living in.”

    She noted that for organizations that are struggling, a lack of technology or capital to invest in it often kept them from innovating in the ways needed to thrive. “The costs to cover that [technology] is what fuels the growth in operations and ability to innovate,” she said.

    Those associations that don’t have the financial reserves and that haven’t been able to use technology must instead focus on shoring up their financials.

    “First and foremost, look at your current revenue sources,” Wilson said. “If you have individuals or sponsors who have been significant contributors, have those frank conversations. The high touch right now is going to be really critical for those strugglers.”

    Another option to consider is a merger or strategic partnership. The report, which was done mostly prior to the pandemic and updated later to include the section on what’s contributing to thriving nonprofits, noted that few organizations were interested in mergers.

    “For a number of years, we have anticipated an increase in mergers and acquisitions activity, and that hasn’t come to bear,” Wilson said. She noted that past research indicated organizations were reluctant to merge because they didn’t quite find mission alignment. Now, with financial pressures, that wave of mergers and acquisitions may actually happen.

    “I think there is a renewed interest,” Wilson said. “Because many organizations are starved for financial reserves, they may need to look to align with an organization that can carry them through it. Now it’s about financial alignment.”

    This article was sourced directly from Associations Now here, and is written by Rasheeda Childress. 

  • 08 Jul 2020 10:28 AM | Kerrie Green (Administrator)

    With a strategic mindset guiding your analytics, your content can serve big-picture business goals, not just drive traffic to your site.

    By Eric Goodstadt and Melissa Bouma

    To drive success, associations produce lots of content—and take lots of steps to measure its efficacy. But depending on your content measurement strategy, you may be missing the mark on bigger opportunities. Consider the following:

    • Traffic and page metrics, both tactical strategies, often drive content evaluation but may leave business measures—conversion rate, revenue impact, or profitability—off to the side.
    • Content measurement tools can be inconsistent across channels, making it hard to figure out what is and isn’t working.

    As Forrester analyst Ryan Skinner said of these shortcomings: “Marketers need better intelligence on the performance of their content—what it’s about, how it speaks, how effective it is at accomplishing certain goals, what emotions it calls to mind, etc.”

    Here are two content measurement strategies that could make a big difference in the success of your association in the long run.


    As we wrote earlier this year, it’s important to build your content based on brand ambitions. Likewise, you should also measure that content with the bigger picture in mind.

    Specifically, think about your organization’s ultimate goals—not necessarily on a particular content project, but how content fits into the larger objectives of your organization.

    Every good association has mountains it hopes to climb. What’s at the summit? Are you angling to build awareness or to retain existing members?

    The American Nurses Association offers a great example of building toward the latter: It leans heavily on social networks like Twitter and Instagram, but its reason for doing so has nothing to do with retweets. Really, it’s focused on engaging with current and potential members—the nurses on the front lines around the country. A successfully deployed meme is just a means to an end.

    You need to build your analytics around the elements that show your association is reaching a broader goal rather than a more modest objective. (In the marketing world, this metric is traditionally called a key performance indicator, or KPI.) Not only is that better to track, but you can also strategically act upon it more easily.


    Looking at Google Analytics is great for understanding your site’s performance, but in terms of what the content actually does for your organization, page views don’t mean much—especially if you’re putting a budget behind paid placement for that content.

    Instead of looking at traffic numbers alone, it’s worth considering how well your content does in light of these questions:

    • Does the content successfully engage the reader and hold his or her attention for the time that it should take to fully consume the content?
    • Does the content encourage the reader to engage with another piece of content on your site?
    • Does the content activate the reader to take an action that is important to your association?
    • Does the content perform well in organic search?

    These four questions offer the starting point for a quality score that you can build around your content. (Feel free to put more weight on one answer over another, if needed.)

    By using these strategies—starting with your owned channels, then expanding to external channels—you can develop quality scores based on your needs. This can help create KPIs that better translate your work into focused objectives and broader goals.


    Ultimately, the goal of any good content strategy is to measure things consistently and rigorously so you can make better decisions. Knowing whether a specific strategy moved the needle on your business goals will help you figure out where you can take things next.

    When analyzing a content strategy your organization has used, ask yourself these questions:

    • What worked? How do we do more of that?
    • What didn’t work? Could it have performed better on another channel or with different messaging?
    • What larger themes are emerging?
    • What surprised you most?

    It may seem difficult to arrive at a business-forward content strategy, but these fundamental ideas are the basis of a long-term strategy you can iterate upon. Over time, this leads to less of a paint-by-numbers approach and becomes something that uniquely matches your needs. With the right metrics, you can build content from a position of strength that won’t just serve your analytics reports—but your actual business goals. And that’s how it should be.

    This article was sourced directly from Associations Now here, and is written by Eric Goodstadt and Melissa Bouma. 

  • 02 Jul 2020 12:39 PM | Kerrie Green (Administrator)

    Volunteering is the act of providing services for the greater good without expectation or receipt of compensation. While the definition of volunteering hasn’t changed much over the years, the methods through which volunteers donate their time must evolve, especially during COVID-19. Volunteering is the single best way keep members engaged. But how to we foster a sense of community when our members are physically and socially distanced? As remote work continues to be prevalent for much of the working population, how can our associations make virtual volunteering as ubiquitous as remote work? Here are three key ways your association can create opportunities for virtual volunteers to make a real world impact.

    Provide ‘Micro’ Opportunities to Serve

    Microvolunteering, also known as ad hoc volunteering or episodic volunteering allows potential volunteers to devote time and provide services in shorter, more convenient timeframes. As any association professional who has worked with volunteers can attest, the greatest obstacle securing committed volunteers is a lack of discretionary time. Microvolunteering solves for this barrier by creating smaller, more palatable opportunities that have plenty of inherent flexibility.

    When building microvolunteering offerings, think about simple, one-time tasks that can serve as an introduction to your organization. For example, my the alumni association of my former university offers individually-based microvolunteering opportunities, including the quick task of writing congratulatory letters to newly admitted students in my hometown. While I would love to one day volunteer with my regional alumni chapter, the letter writing opportunity allows me to get started right away on a simple act of kindness that builds affinity between me, prospective students, and the alumni association.

    Create an Online Ambassador Program

    Every member of your organization is a marketer, regardless of his or her job title. From Amazon reviews to Twitter posts, to how you show up in your latest Zoom meeting, each of us is communicating and making statements every second of the day. People are 90% more likely to trust and purchase from a brand recommended by a friend, colleague, or peer. Whether we like it or not, our members are signaling the value of our organizations. That’s why it’s critical that we create opportunities for our members to serve as brand ambassadors of our organization, and the programs, products, and services we offer.

    At a previous association, I partnered with a member of the Board of Directors to create an online ambassador program. The purpose of the program was to help build our leadership pipeline and increase awareness of the organization through peer to peer communication. Ambassadors were provided with monthly lists of new members in their local geographies along with an email template that could be customized for one-to-one outreach. They were also encouraged to engage with and share social media posts and share their own volunteer journeys with new and prospective members.

    Solicit Member Expertise

    From member value surveys, to association management software, to regular check-ins with your committees and task forces, there is no reason that associations can’t get to know their members. Organizations that truly understand the benefits of volunteering know there’s no substitute for personal outreach and connection. From highly engaged volunteers to first-time members, ask questions about what excites your members, why they connect to the mission of the organization, and what their career goals are. Find ways to connect these individuals with projects or people that align with their skills and goals.

    Skilled-based volunteering involves taking a skill used every day in a job and applying it towards volunteer efforts. According to the Taproot Foundation, 68% of nonprofit professionals do not have the resources needed to successfully complete their work. Your existing network of members and volunteers likely possess many of those skills, but it’s up to your organization to identify them through personalized outreach and utilize them by aligning abilities with opportunities. Examples of skill-based volunteer opportunities include copywriting, web design, online fundraising, and virtual mentoring.

    While physical volunteers will once again be in demand in a post-pandemic world, the value of virtual volunteering as a benefit to both associations and the members we serve should not be overlooked. In times of difficulty and uncertainty, the value of volunteering to our associations, industries, economies, and personal sense of meaning is priceless.

    This article is written by Amy Thomasson, Marketing Director, Congress of Neurological Surgeons

  • 02 Jul 2020 11:41 AM | Kerrie Green (Administrator)

    Welcome to our new member chat series - half an hour of power. This week we are delighted to have sat down with AuSAE member, Fiona Brown, Chief Executive Officer, Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals Australia (SOCAP Australia). In a short 30 minute interview we discussed four key questions with Fiona to reflect on the last four months and look forward to the future post this crisis.

    What do the next 6 months look like for your association and your members

    Everyone is waiting for the September/October deadline with government support and funding ceasing, to understand what the real impact of this crisis has had on the economy. This deadline will have an effect on our members and their customers, and the support they will need to provide their customers during this time. It is a really interesting time for our association as the next 6 months will provide the building blocks to set us up and the way we respond and move forward over the next 18-24 months. We have already shifted the way we deliver member value and the way in which we operate, but I think this will only continue and change even further. This crisis has uncovered the need for associations to adapt, shift and change their business models, income streams and delivery of member value. We are still in the cycle of change.

    Areas of concern

    A concern for me is around the ongoing capacity for our association to deliver this new model of member engagement and value. I think as we move through this situation we need to continue to be ready and move quickly whilst providing the support for our teams to deliver their goals for members. An ongoing juggling act for any Association CEO. I think something that has been and will continue to be difficult is the unknown – as a CEO you focus on the strategic planning and outlook of the organisation and this has been a hard ask for CEO’s as the landscape changes daily and we are still unsure of what the end will look like.

    Areas of opportunity

    In some ways this situation has provided us with the time and space to really look at our overall goals and what we need to do to deliver for members now. We all had a plan coming into 2020 and those plans vanished quickly, and now we have been given the time to re-evaluate and reimagine what service delivery and desired outcomes look like. I am enjoying this process, and the ability for our team to reshape the delivery of programs and ensure the alignment with our true mission as an organisation. In chaos you can certainly find clarity.

    Celebrated moments in the last four months

    The brilliance of our team to adapt so quickly in such an unknown environment is fantastic to see. They have shifted to working from home, delivering services and not missing a beat for our members and at the same time increasing the output and delivery for members. I am thankful to the team for their agility and support over this time. The engagement with our members has never been stronger, I know that the team and I are nourished by the conversations we are able to have with members every day. 

  • 02 Jul 2020 11:36 AM | Kerrie Green (Administrator)

    As associations quickly transition their conferences online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important that they also recognize some of the benefits that come with making the pivot to virtual.

    As many associations work fast to pivot their in-person conferences to virtual ones, staff involved in getting it done may feel stressed and concerned about executing it well. For example, how do they get presenters to be engaging on video? How do they create opportunities for virtual attendees to network and collaborate? How do they get sponsor and exhibitors on board?

    While those are all important questions to address, it is also important that associations realize the benefits that could come with offering virtual conferences. Here are five of them:

    It may appeal to a broader audience. A virtual conference doesn’t require attendees to travel, which means they don’t have to pay for a flight or a hotel room or spend time away from their families. Because of the lower price point and ability to join from anywhere, you may be able to entice people who have never attended in person to join your virtual event. For example, your international attendance could go up, or more parents with young children may register.

    Repurposed content could be a new revenue stream. Virtual conference platforms allow content to be easily recorded, which means it can be repurposed at a later date. While attendees could be given access to the archive as part of their registration fee, consider repackaging it and selling it to those who missed the virtual event. This could help your association create a new revenue stream.

    It could offer new opportunities for interaction. A lot of people attend events for the networking opportunities and hallway conversations that take place. While those may be difficult to replicate in a virtual environment, consider other ways you can help participants interact—perhaps in ways that would not typically be available at a face-to-face event. For example, you might give attendees access to a live chat with a keynoter or small breakout-room Q&As with your board chair or CEO.

    The platform will gather lots of data. Data collection is typically much easier when you host a virtual conference. Virtual platforms let you know exactly who your audience is and what they do. You can gather demographic data, attendance numbers, number of views, types of engagement, and more to get an idea who is tuning in, to what, and for how long. You an also track this type of data for your exhibitors to see how people are spending their time in the virtual tradeshow environment.

    The virtual conference could serve as a testing ground. While virtual and hybrid meetings have been increasing in popularity over the past few years, COVID-19 left many associations that perhaps weren’t full sold on them with no choice but to actually host them. While it may have happened faster than you wanted, and you may feel like you didn’t have enough time to create the perfect event, celebrate it as a milestone and consider it an opportunity to test new things. Watch how your attendees, sponsors, and speakers interact with the virtual tools, and ask them what they enjoyed and didn’t like about the experience. Their answers can inform other virtual products, programs, or services your association creates in the future.

    This article was sourced directly from Associations Now here and is written by Samantha Whitehorne. 

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