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Sector and AuSAE News

  • 30 Sep 2020 3:26 PM | Abby Fields (Administrator)

    The smartphone giant delays a plan to take commissions from apps being used for virtual events. 

    For event organizers looking to take advantage of the iOS ecosystem to put on paid programs, Apple just offered a temporary App Store reprieve.

    Last week, the company announced it would suspend plans to take a 30 percent commission for paid virtual events offered through the iOS platform through the end of the year. Apple said  it would not take commissions for virtual events put on by small businesses through Facebook’s app in particular—but as a compromise, it would continue to take commissions for online-native events such as game streaming.

    Apple has faced controversy over the size of the cut it takes from app publishers in general, particularly Fortnite developer Epic Games, which is at the center of a legal battle with Apple. (The game publisher is part of a new advocacy group, the Coalition for App Fairness, along with Spotify, the European Publishers Council, Match Group, and News Media Europe, among others.)

    In-person events organized through iOS apps have never been subject to the 30 percent fee, so as gatherings turn virtual, some event planners may be running into the commission for the first time. As we wrote last month, this could prove a long-term problem for event planners looking to offer virtual events through mobile platforms.

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

  • 29 Sep 2020 1:31 PM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    It’s now very unusual to find a city building that doesn’t cater for the disabled in some way.  Access ramps, enhanced sightlines and layouts, modulated acoustics, that kind of thing.  It’s just standard, good design practice these days.

    But who among us has a website that’s disability-friendly?  All public service and non-public service agencies must meet the NZ Government Web Accessibility Standard 1.1, but what about your site and the websites run by your member organisations?

    There are 1.1 million New Zealanders with a disability, or one in four of us. Around 11 per cent of children are disabled in some way and 27 per cent of adults are limited in their daily activities by a range of impairments.

    But, you can bet a very high percentage of disabled Kiwis are still browsing the internet.  They want what everyone wants.  They choose where to shop, where to eat, which product to buy, what hotel to stay in, which vehicle to buy, what airline to fly.

    They’re looking for information, products and services; they’re looking to transact and engage in some way with your organisation and with your members.

    But, how much of this audience are you losing if your website doesn’t reflect their needs?  How big a market - a customer base - are you or your member organisations potentially losing because around 1.1million Kiwis find it too hard to engage with your website and its valuable content?

    Think about it from your audience’s perspective: if you are blind or deaf, or could not use a mouse or trackpad, how would you navigate the intenet? And, how much preference would you give to brands and organisations that design their websites with your needs in mind?

    This is why organisations are starting to make website accessibility one of their core digital goals.  It might entail extra work, but so, too, did the installation of ramps and escalators and the changes to interior lighting and layouts that now make buildings and office space more navigable and habitable for people affected by disabilities.

    Paying attention to people with disabilities isn’t just the right thing to do; it makes sense from an organisational perspective.

    What is website accessibility?

    Website accessibility encompasses all disabilities that affect access to the internet, including:

    • auditory
    • cognitive
    • neurological
    • physical
    • speech
    • visual

    Website accessibility also benefits people without disabilities:

    • people using mobile phones, smart watches, smart TVs, and other devices with small screens
    • older people with changing abilities due to ageing
    • people with “temporary disabilities” such as a broken arm or lost glasses
    • people with “situational limitations” such as bright sunlight or in an environment where they cannot listen to audio
    • people using a slow Internet connection

    For a 7-minute video with examples of how accessibility is essential for people with disabilities and useful for everyone in a variety of situations, see: Web accessibility perspectives (You Tube)  

    Accessibility benefits to organisations

    Improve your search engine optimisation

    The websites that Google ranks on the first page of its search results are the ones they consider to be the most relevant and useful. Google determines that by using a complex algorithm which takes into account 200+ factors.  Website accessibility and search engine optimisation (SEO) have a number of shared principles, meaning making your website more accessible is likely to improve your SEO. 

    Increase site usability

    Many accessibility requirements improve site usability for everyone. For example, providing sufficient contrast benefits people using the web on a mobile device in bright sunlight or in a dark room. Captions benefit people in noisy and in quiet environments. Some people have age-related functional limitations, and may not identify these as a “disability”. Accessibility addresses these situations too.

    Enhance your brand

    Creating accessible web experiences helps your organisation – and your members - enhance the all-important brand experience by demonstrating a tangible and proactive focus on inclusion.  The more welcoming your site appears to be, the easier it is to navigate, the more likely your site is to reinforce your brand values.  The converse is also true - when websites aren't easily accessible some people are automatically excluded from having a positive brand experience — although they may definitely have negative ones.

    Accessibility creates more opportunities for brand advocates 

    When people have ongoing positive interactions with your organisation they become more loyal to your brand. When they feel the service or treatment they received could benefit people they know, they're going to make recommendations to them.  Something for you and your member organisations to think about.

    Accessibility demonstrates social responsibility

    Consumers have no shortage of options. People are increasingly choosing to support brands that share their values. As web accessibility continues to become mainstream, those values for many include the inclusivity and accessibility of products and services. If you've committed to accessibility, you should let people know.  Social media, press releases, blogs posts, and emails are all ways you could get your message in front of interested, like-minded people.

     

    Incorporating accessibility into your brand

    There are robust guidelines around website accessibility and The PR Company would be delighted to review your site and provide detailed advice and recommendations about how your accessibility ratings can be improved.

    Remember, around a quarter of us are disabled in some way but that doesn’t mean disabled people don’t surf the net or want to engage with brands.  Which brands they choose to engage with can be determined by which websites they can access easily.

    Let’s work together to make it as easy for them as possible.   To learn more contact us.


  • 23 Sep 2020 11:28 AM | Abby Fields (Administrator)

    In the final instalment of our series on the hybrid workplace, we look at establishing flexible policies that will allow both remote and in-office workers to thrive.

    Congratulations: You’ve made it through the chaos of abruptly switching to a remote workforce, and perhaps you’ve decided to transition to a hybrid workplace model. Now it’s time to evaluate whether your policies accommodate all workers, be they in-office or remote.

    “For the most part, policies should be applicable to both remote workers and employees at a regular work site,” says Katie Brennan, a human resources knowledge advisor at the Society for Human Resource Management. “But there are certainly going to be some considerations that an employer will want to take.”

    Brennan suggests that employers re-evaluate the following policies for a hybrid workplace.

    DRESS CODE. Does your organization have a strict dress code? Now could be the time to rethink it.

    “If no one else is looking at an employee, does it really matter if they’re wearing a suit? Usually, employers are not going to enforce that if employees are not in a public setting,” Brennan says. Consider relaxing the office dress code too—providing guidance for staffers who have face time with members, donors, and partners—to avoid any perceived favourable treatment of remote workers.

    BENEFITS PACKAGES. Benefits required by law vary by state, so a newly dispersed workforce needs a policy that meets requirements for all states where employees are located. Brennan says organizations can look at which applicable state requires the most generous benefits, then provide those benefits to all employees. That way, some employees don’t get better packages than others based on location.

    FLEXTIME. Over the past months, you might have begun letting remote employees exert more control over their schedules instead of requiring a rigid five-day, 9-to-5 work week. In a hybrid environment, consider expanding your flextime policy to apply to the entire workforce on a job-to-job basis.

    “Certain jobs can more easily flex regardless of their work location, whereas others really have to be completed within a certain time period,” Brennan says.

    Flextime is often associated with remote work, but there are options for any worker, no matter the location: alternating schedules, compressed schedules, gliding schedules, maxiflex. As long as it’s feasible for your association, flextime is worth implementing in some form, as it can be a productivity and morale booster.

    WORKPLACE SAFETY POLICIES. When the office reopens, your employees shouldn’t be walking into the same environment they were in before the shutdown. New policies need to be put in place to keep everyone safe, such as guidance on gatherings, social distancing, and employee health screenings—all in compliance with federal, state, and local legal obligations.

    Another consideration: how to ensure that employees follow the new health protocols. For employees who do not, disciplinary steps should be prescriptive (for example, first a verbal warning, then a written warning, then termination) but leave room for discretion.

    “Employers are going to want to be consistent in how they discipline employees for the various infractions,” Brennan says. “But sometimes things don’t fit into a certain box, or [the infraction is] so egregious that it warrants skipping the whole disciplinary process and going straight to termination.”

    EXPENSE REIMBURSEMENT. Employees who remain remote might request more equipment to help them operate at their best from home. Add a section about remote work to your reimbursement policy, detailing what will and will not be covered.

    Brennan says organizations generally provide a computer and reimburse tech expenses such as internet and smartphone-related costs, but they will not cover the costs of something like office furniture.

    PAID TIME OFF. “Generally, PTO policies will be dependent on different criteria, like years of service or whether someone’s full-time or part-time,” Brennan says. “

    Because an employee’s work location typically is not a factor in PTO, you probably won’t have to make permanent adjustments to your policy. But Brennan cautions that as more of the world reopens, your employees might feel inclined to use their saved PTO all at the same time, leading to critical overlaps in vacations.

    Organizations can temporarily modify PTO policies to prevent this. For example, if you have a “use it or lose it” policy in which vacation days do not transfer to the next year, provide a grace period in 2021 when some PTO can carry over to avoid a vacation logjam at the end of 2020.

    Brennan offers one final tip: As workers find their footing in this new environment, the last thing they need is to be caught off guard by a surprising change to a workplace policy. Although employers are generally not legally required to give advance notice, it’s a best practice, she says. Provide policy updates in writing so employees have a copy of what’s expected of them.

    This article was sourced directly from Associations Now here, and is written by Michael Hickey.

  • 23 Sep 2020 11:21 AM | Abby Fields (Administrator)

    It can be challenging for sponsors to extract the same value from virtual events as their real-world equivalents. But a little flexibility can go a long way to change that.

    In-person events naturally offer lots of opportunities for bringing attention to sponsors, whether a prominent banner, a sizable floor space, or a spot on a stage. But how can you give sponsors the visibility they paid for in a virtual context?

    Simply put, the old strategies don’t work. A recent white paper from Ricochet and Bruce Rosenthal Associates suggests that the conventional sponsorship model for meetings may need to be thrown out.

    “During the pandemic, the traditional benefits offerings repurposed for virtual events are not likely to be of interest. The old way of courting sponsors has likely come to an end for most events and associations,” states the report, titled “The New Sponsorship Model for Virtual Events.”

    So what can be done to ensure sponsors get the value they’re after? Perhaps the new play is to position your sponsors as thought leaders, giving them a way to raise their voices, rather than just their logo on a banner. Here are a few ideas on what form sponsor thought leadership could take.

    Work sponsors into your virtual event sessions. As the virtual event platform Socio recently noted, many in-person event tactics translate to virtual. Sponsors can help moderate or take part in panels and even be given a speaking slot where they can talk about issues relevant to the sector. Just make sure your sponsors are well versed in how to moderate or present. “Speakers need to be able to run their own tech, switch slides, and roll with the technical glitches as they come up,” Socio’s Corey McCarthy writes. “Training your speakers on strategies to keep the audience engaged wouldn’t hurt either.”

    Focus on presenting provocative ideas. Thought leaders present ideas that challenge the status quo or question traditional thinking. And while there’s often a lightning-in-a-bottle aspect to how provocative ideas reach an audience (example: what happens on Twitter basically every day), associations can plant the seeds for thought leadership to flourish, writes the Bizzabo blog. Start by picking hot topics with the potential to drive thought-provoking responses that will raise a sponsor’s profile. Contributed blog posts and other engagement strategies could have a higher chance of catching fire with a perfectly selected topic.

    Adapt digital marketing tactics for sponsors. While you may not be able to re-create the impact of an in-person appearance, digital events put different tools at your disposal—whether it’s short interstitials between virtual sessions, email marketing campaigns, or sponsored chat messages during livestreams. With a little bit of workshopping or the right links to the right places, these can be effective messages for trustworthy voices. That said, virtual events differ greatly from physical ones, and that should inform how you roll out these messages. “Treat virtual events as something new. You have the framework of what you are used to doing, but think outside the box and reimagine as you go,” Cvent’s Madison Layman writes.

    Consider the value of your event data. While attention can be a major benefit for sponsors during virtual events, a bigger win might be the additional access to data that events offer. Using data from your meeting, sponsors can better target their efforts for future events. “Companies need associations to provide the type of marketing data and prospect access they receive from their own digital marketing efforts,” Ricochet white paper authors Christopher Gloede and Bruce Rosenthal write. The secret isn’t just giving sponsors access to the data, but also helping them interpret it so they can put the right kinds of thought leadership in front of the people they want to reach.

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

  • 23 Sep 2020 11:15 AM | Abby Fields (Administrator)

    A good online experience could be the difference between retaining new members and driving them away. Tackling a few important questions before you start your website redesign will help you create a roadmap to success.

    An association’s website is a window into the soul of an organization, its people, and its mission. It’s where people go to learn about you—but they’ll leave quickly if your site is poorly designed. An Adobe survey reported that 39 percent of people will stop engaging with a website if images won’t load or it takes too long to load, and 38 percent will stop engaging if it’s unattractive. On top of that, 88 percent are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience.

    To get started on your redesign journey, ask these three key questions.

    WHAT IS OUR MAIN GOAL? 

    Narrowing down your goals and objectives will help inform your design decisions. Are you redesigning for easier navigation? Is the site too slow and in need of a performance boost? Does the redesign reflect a larger change of direction within the organization?

    For the California Speech Language Hearing Association, a website redesign came as a result of a brand refresh. After CSHA approved a new vision statement, mission statement, logo, and tagline, it began redesigning its website. In addition to its improved overall functionality, the new website now tells the story of where CSHA is today and puts more emphasis on its members and their stories.

    In addition, its new tagline, “Human Lives. Human Connection,” is prominent, and CSHA’s revamped position as a thought leader in the industry is right on the homepage, with links to a resource library and education opportunities.

    WHAT DO USERS NEED RIGHT NOW?

    Internet browsing habits and expectations have changed over the years, so what your website offers might not be the kind of web experience people are currently looking for. Nowadays, users want to find new information immediately—and from the palm of their hands.

    The Lung Cancer Research Foundation tapped into these needs and redesigned its website for easier navigation and mobile optimization. Now, the site’s homepage contains three categories—patient or caregiver, researcher, and supporter/advocate—so visitors can quickly access the information that is relevant to them.

    To keep visitors abreast of what they need to know right now, the organization regularly updates its site with new content, including the latest advances in lung cancer treatment, upcoming events, and updates on foundation programs.

    DOES OUR TEAM HAVE WHAT IT NEEDS TO RUN OUR WEBSITE?

    It’s easy to think of a web redesign as something for members and other visitors, but just as important is how well your website works for internal users who are responsible for managing security risks, handling sensitive data, and creating content that will live on the site.

    Sure, Choose Chicago’s website redesign aimed to improve the user experience by offering more immersive content experiences. But the organization also offered more versatility for internal users by moving from a licensed content management system to an open-source solution, which allows developers to modify a piece of software’s source code to suit their needs.

    This article was sourced directly from Associations Now here, and is written by Michael Hickey. 

  • 23 Sep 2020 11:10 AM | Abby Fields (Administrator)

    Members need their association when times are tough, but they may be facing hardships or other impediments to staying connected. Here are three ideas for keeping your members close and engaged with your community.

    Associations are based on connections. It’s why people join: to find their people and their place, and to benefit from being with like-minded individuals who share a common purpose and interests. COVID-19 threw a major wrench into togetherness, as we all know. It also magnified how important community—every aspect of it—really is.

    Last week, I shared some ideas from a small-staff association executive whose organization was finding creative, low-cost ways to engage and retain members. Continuing the theme of membership tips for challenging times, here are three more membership strategy ideas, with a focus on staying connected with members.

    VIRTUAL CONNECTIVITY. Recognizing that its members and nonmembers need a sense of community more than ever, the Council on Undergraduate Research opened up its online member community from April 1 to May 31 to nonmembers so they could participate in sharing information, asking questions, and learning from each other during a critical period, especially as campuses were switching to virtual teaching.

    “We converted a high percentage of those members from people who were leveraging the community at that time,” said Lindsay Currie, CAE, CUR’s executive officer. “They got behind it and saw the value and were able to connect with the community.” It didn’t cost any money, and it was an easy lift technologically.

    EXTENDED GRACE PERIODS. In March, the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research experienced a lag in membership renewal. Instead of dropping members, ISPOR allowed members to remain, even after the 60-day grace period expired. Staff continued to reach out to let members know what they were doing for them in light of COVID-19 “to foster that sense of connectivity and a sense of loyalty,” said Jason Cohen, ISPOR’s senior manager of member services.

    Rather than sending out typical renewal notices, Cohen worked with the membership team to tailor their messaging to show that ISPOR was mindful of the times and aware that members were struggling and wondering how they would pay their dues.

    “Understanding who your members are and making sure you are tailoring your messages is part of building loyalty to the organization,” he said.

    That extra few months of grace period helped stabilize ISPOR’s membership. “It also showed good faith,” Cohen said. While ISPOR offers a fee-waived membership option for those residing in a qualifying country, it is not otherwise waiving membership dues. ISPOR is exploring changes that would address the concerns of members who want to keep their memberships but who have budgetary constraints.

    A PANDEMIC FIELD GUIDE. The National Business Officers Association was able to hold its in-person annual meeting in February, before the storm really hit, and dues renewal began July 1, so the organization was lucky financially—this year.

    Knowing that challenges will continue next year, NBOA—whose members are business officers in independent schools—decided to invest in member resources, specifically a 150-page pandemic field guide, “Operating Guidance for Independent School Pandemic Management.” NBOA developed the guide with an engineering firm that has done a lot of research on how schools can operate safely amid COVID-19. The guide is free to members, but nonmembers have to pay a fee. It was released on September 1 and has already been downloaded 700 times.

    NBOA announced the upcoming release of the field guide in a renewal email at the end of its grace period, August 31, as a powerful and timely reminder of the value of membership.

    “During times like these, associations need to show their value,” said Barry Pilson, CAE, NBOA’s vice president of membership and marketing. “This new environment pushes people to do things we should have been doing and never did.”

    This article was sourced directly from Associations Now here, and is written by Lisa Boylan.

  • 23 Sep 2020 11:04 AM | Abby Fields (Administrator)

    Cybercriminals are getting more clever about targeting organizations and individuals. Here are three new threats you need to be on the lookout for.

    Being savvy about cybersecurity doesn’t mean just knowing the big trends. You also need to stay on top of new tricks and tactics that hackers are using to target people and organizations. Study up on these three emerging threats so you can stay ahead of attempted cyberattacks.

    Conversation hijacking. It may look like your colleague is engaging with you and your coworkers, but in reality, it’s a hacker taking advantage of someone who’s already been exploited to score an even bigger kill. Speaking to ZDNet, Don Maclennan, senior vice president of engineering and product at Barracuda Networks, noted that the secret to this attack is research. “Once they gain access to the account, attackers will spend time reading through conversations, researching their victims, and looking for any deals or valuable conversations they can insert themselves [into],” he said. A related tactic involves domain impersonation, in which an attacker uses a domain that looks similar to your own.

    OAuth-based phishing. If you use a Microsoft-based cloud service, you’re going to want to keep an eye on this one. As CPO Magazine recently reported, such attacks look like credible add-ins to Office 365, but they allow unfettered access to an entire account until the user realizes the account has been compromised. “The usefulness of a captured Office 365 user logon to an attacker is only valuable until the logon’s owner realizes they’ve been compromised, and their password is changed,” Stu Sjouwerman, founder and CEO of KnowBe4, told the magazine.

    Hyper-specific Google ad targeting. While examples of this are not yet common, there is a lot of potential for this type of attack in the future, notes Patrick Berlinquette, an expert search advertising marketer, at Medium’s OneZero vertical. He explains that the large amount of data Google has on its users makes it easier to target smaller and smaller groups of individuals—for advertising or, potentially, an attack that could lead to the public exposure of personal information, known as “doxxing.” “Clicks amass the world’s thoughts in an indelible ledger, held by a corporation,” he writes. “Clicks are packaged into more precise ad targeting tools that Google hands off to marketers. These tools help refine who sees an ad, and create ads that attract more clicks.” This risk is more hypothetical, but Berlinquette makes the case that it’s growing.

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

  • 16 Sep 2020 1:48 PM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    Associations could learn a thing or two from Amazon. 

    Amazon is one of the biggest membership-based companies in the U.S. In January 2020, more than 112 million Americans belonged to the company’s Prime membership, which offers benefits such as free two-day shipping in exchange for an annual fee.

    But Prime’s famous two-day delivery is far from the only service Amazon offers. As the global company experiments with brick-and-mortar retail, web services and online sales, members and non-members alike can take advantage of the company’s offerings.

    Engaging non-members is something associations could benefit from. Though they’ve traditionally focused on attracting and retaining members, associations that ignore non-members risk falling behind. 

    Is your membership offering enough value?

    Here’s a closer look at steps associations can take to engage non-members:

    Allow non-members to take a test drive

    Have you ever bought a car without taking it for a spin around the block? For most shoppers, a car is a major investment that requires careful thought. A good test drive will allow you to see how a vehicle handles and whether you feel confident driving it. 

    Similarly, joining an association is also a major investment for most members. Membership is not only a financial investment, but a commitment to become part of a community. It’s no wonder some potential members will hesitate before taking the leap.

    Amazon addresses this problem by allowing non-members to shop freely on its online marketplace. Though non-members won’t have access to the full membership benefits, they’ll be able to get a feel for Amazon’s selection, customer service, and more. The more non-members rely on Amazon, the more likely they are to join Prime.

    Associations that offer public content — such as videos and newsletters — offer non-members a chance to see the rich benefits full membership provides. Unless they realize how much value your association truly offers, potential members may simply seek community and content elsewhere.

    Fully commit to your association’s core purpose

    As mission-driven organizations, associations’ decisions should always align with their core purpose. An effective core purpose uses a short, action-packed phrase — typically five to eight words — to inspire and align an association’s forward momentum.

    Associations that ignore non-members might not be living up to their core purpose at all. Like Amazon, Disney is a global company that regularly makes headlines. Disney’s core purpose is just three words: “Make people happy.” 

    Once fans purchase a ticket to a Disney theme park or subscribe to its streaming service, Disney+, it’s natural that the company would work hard to keep them happy. But what about children whose families can’t afford these experiences, or people who only occasionally encounter Disney products in their daily lives? 

    Interpreted literally, Disney’s sweeping core purpose applies to everyone, everywhere. To truly live up to this promise, the company must experiment with creative ways to ensure that anyone who encounters Disney has a positive experience. That means the company might license select characters to external partners, donate to children in need, and create enjoyable retail stores that anyone is welcome to visit.

    In today’s modern world, associations must compete with many other online communities that  promise similar experiences. By serving members and non-members alike, your association will be better able to live up to its core purpose and ensure its relevance for generations to come. 

    BY ASSOCIATIONSUCCESS.ORG STAFF 
  • 16 Sep 2020 1:39 PM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    Word-of-mouth recommendations and email communications were the two best channels for new member acquisition for membership organizations last year, according to Marketing General Incorporated’s latest Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report

    The report provides important data and analysis on membership organizations and their members, offering insight into new membership models, communication methods, dues increases, best practices and products and services that have improved member participation.

    According to the report, individual member organizations, trade organizations and organizations with a combination of membership types reported that word-of-mouth recommendations and email communications were the two highest channels for new member acquisition: 67% and 52%, respectively.

    With over 860 associations making up the respondent pool, having such a large percentage back up these methods reinforces why others should adopt the same strategies.


    Successful engagement or retention strategy

    When asked to describe a successful engagement or retention strategy, one respondent said they “divide, through data analysis, (their) members into engagement segments.” Depending on the results, this respondent’s organization sends each segment different messages. “Through this strategy, we consistently maintain 83%+ membership engaged in one or more programs,” they continued.

    Not only does personalizing your messaging increase engagement, it also increases the likelihood of your audience passing word-of-mouth recommendations. According to Invesp, “88% of consumers placed the highest level of trust in word-of-mouth recommendations from people they know.” Fostering a personal connection with your audience builds the trust necessary to inspire a good word of mouth review.

    Member Value Proposition study

    Another respondent said that “since completing a Member Value Proposition study, (they) have begun focusing more on marketing content (they) are creating/providing for (their) members instead of the ‘benefits’ of membership and have found an increase in the open and click rates of (their) emails which has led to increased attendance at our webinars and in-person events.”

    Creating bigger, better, newer and nicer content for your membership is not always the right answer. As this respondent found, focusing on the value of content already provided strengthened the relationship between their organization and its existing membership. Taking a step back to conduct a self audit and refocus retention efforts internally could lead to increased engagement and retention outcomes.

  • 16 Sep 2020 1:36 PM | Abby Fields (Administrator)

    Bringing in new members with a health crisis in full swing and the economy reeling sounds pretty daunting. But it is possible, according to an expert who sees hope for associations amid adversity.

    A couple of weeks ago, I reported on some good news from Marketing General Incorporated’s Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, which showed promise for ongoing membership growth, even in a pandemic.

    In a session at ASAE’s 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting & Exposition last month, MGI’s Elisa Joseph Anders followed that report with some action items associations can consider right now to increase membership growth—or to set the stage for growth once the economy rebounds.

    “Investing in membership recruitment should be a top strategic priority,” she said.

    The years following the 2009 recession produced the best new-member recruitment numbers to date in MGI’s research. In 2013, associations reported that new-member acquisition was at an all-time high. While many associations are seeing a drop in membership now and anticipating challenges going forward, the historical data following the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression provides hope for the future, Anders said.

    BE A GO-TO RESOURCE

    What can associations do now to minimize membership loss and rebound as quickly as possible? Anders recommends doubling down on marketing efforts as much as possible.

    “Organizations that stay active in the marketplace during tough economic times are among the first to come out on the other side,” she said. Understanding member needs and showing how you can meet them will create mutually beneficial short- and long-term relationships that will increase loyalty and value.

    Anders touted the American Nurses Association as a prime example of an association that has focused on informing and supporting its members during the pandemic. ANA’s strategy has been to conduct research to understand its members’ needs and engage as many members as possible. ANA is delivering trusted information and free COVID-19 resources to help nurses stay informed and help them do their jobs better during an unprecedented health crisis.

    It’s a good time to do research so you can understand your prospects’ challenges and what you can do to support them, Anders said. Knowing what obstacles prospects are facing will allow your organization to position itself as a reliable, trusted place to come in a difficult time. It will also make your messaging more meaningful and resonant because it will be targeted and informed.

    STAY AHEAD OF THE CURVE

    “Without innovation, membership stagnates,” Anders said. Sometimes that means broadening your tent. She cited the National Retired Teachers Association, which was founded in 1947 and a decade later expanded its membership to all retirees. That huge market expansion created AARP. In 1984, AARP lowered its membership eligibility age from 55 to 50, boosting its membership again.

    Does your association have market expansion opportunities? For example, Anders said, if your association represents doctors, could nurses join? If your organization is domestic, could it expand internationally?

    New membership models are also worth investigating, she said. Creating a tiered membership that offers a low price point could be particularly inviting to professionals and organizations experiencing financial hardship. Prospects have different needs and budgets, so a tiered membership structure would allow associations to meet those varying needs with greater flexibility.

    What if all of this seems too overwhelming to consider right now? Anders recommends setting the stage now in anticipation of better times ahead. Being a go-to resource for members, developing new membership models, and expanding your market are among some good options to consider and plan for once things do improve.

    “There is light at the end of the tunnel,” she said. “There is hope for associations coming out of the pandemic and the recession.”

    This article was sourced directly from Associations Now here, and is written by Lisa Boylan.

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