Sector and AuSAE News

  • 25 Mar 2022 4:23 AM | Brett Jeffery, CAE (Administrator)

    Lots of companies realized that customer service wasn’t cutting it anymore, so the focus shifted to customer experience to respond to changes in customer demands. Lessons from the shift can pave the way for associations to improve the member experience.

    By Lisa Boylan Mar 15, 2022

    There has been an evolution from customer service to customer experience in recent years. It makes sense because, if you think about it, service is a pretty one-sided proposition. You are providing something to someone based on what you think they want. But what if you had a really good idea of what members want because you actually figured it out—and applied it?

    “Everybody thinks about the member experience,” said Kurt Heikkinen, CEO of Forj, a member experience and virtual events platform. “And there are parallels to customer experience with member experience.”

    A More Personal Experience

    By adapting lessons from customer experience to member experience, association professionals have an opportunity to improve the member experience by establishing relationships that are more meaningful and less transactional. Doing that will help boost member growthretention, and engagement, Heikkinen said.

    Understanding what members want and realizing that it probably goes beyond just a resource, course, or certification means looking at other customer-focused businesses that are responding to consumers on a more personal level and meeting their needs in the moment, without glitches, complications, or delays.

    For example, during the pandemic, consumers became accustomed to easily accessing streaming services and products from online vendors. And those expectations carried over into their experience with associations. If consumers can have straightforward interactions daily with their service providers, they are going to expect the same convenience from associations. Notably, 73 percent of customers said that one extraordinary experience raised their expectations of other companies, according to customer engagement research done by Salesforce.

    Measurable Outcomes

    Added to the mix, association CEOs are contending with multiple challenges, including competing priorities, a lack of resources, and reduced budgets. “Some of that comes from a lack of strategic alignment,” Heikkinen said.

    To help address that gap, Forj recently launched its MX Maturity Model [registration required], a framework to help leaders identify where their association is on the continuum of excellence in member experience. Providing members with a better experience starts with understanding why they join an association. It is usually for many reasons, including to learn, grow, contribute, and be part of a community. They want to connect and have an experience that meets their needs in a proactive and personalized way, which will reinforce their connection to the community.

    Having a positive experience increases members’ desire to not only sign up once, but also to come back to the community, renew their membership, and make an investment to advance their career, body of knowledge, and impact in their field of work and industry.

    It’s clear that consumers’ expectations have changed dramatically. “It’s moved from reactionary to predictive and personalized,” said Heikkinen. “We expect our service providers to know us. We expect them to understand who we are already and to tailor, personalize, and predict what our needs are before we have to ask for them,” he said.

    Taking a page from customer experience trends and applying it to the member experience will be a useful roadmap for associations to follow as they proactively seek to meet members’ evolving needs and expectations. “It’s what today’s members—and tomorrow’s members—will expect,” Heikkinen said.

    By Lisa Boylan

    Lisa Boylan is a senior editor of Associations Now.

    Originally posted here

    How Customer Experience Trends Can Improve the Member Experience | Associations Now

  • 25 Mar 2022 4:19 AM | Brett Jeffery, CAE (Administrator)

    The Great Resignation is only a small part of the employment story. We’re in the midst of The Great Reshuffle too. People aren’t just leaving jobs; they’re finding new ones. 

    In this reshuffle, your association is in a prime position to offer certification programs to professionals working in and entering your industry. So if you haven’t yet, now is the time to get your team and technology ready to take advantage of this massive market growth potential.

    Why Certifications Are More in Demand Than Ever

    I find it really interesting that during the pandemic, enrollment in short-term credential classes increased by 70%.  That makes sense, in an uncertain economy, career security means reskilling and upskilling. Jobseekers see certifications as a differentiator in the talent marketplace. Those who lost dead-end jobs during the pandemic know certifications will open up better opportunities for them. Professionals switching careers or looking for advancement understand the value of having industry credentials on their resumes.

    But, don’t forget that the demand for certifications is driven by employers too. In industries undergoing change, employers need staff who have the skills to keep their businesses profitable. Companies can’t do all this training themselves. They naturally look to your association to help them stay competitive as a business and as an employer.

    What It Takes to Be the Premier Provider of Certifications in Your Industry

    We all know that during the pandemic, habits and routines changed. Working, shopping, entertainment, education, socializing, you name it—everyone had their own digital transformation. Your association had to shift gears and speed up its digital transformation too, starting with the mindsets of staff and leaders. 

    Think and Work Agilely 

    I know one thing for sure, agile isn’t just for software developers. Debra BenAvram, FASAE, CAE, CEO of the Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies, spoke to Associations Now about a new certification program: “Now, if I don’t get that to market in an eight-month period, I may as well not even bother trying. We’re competing with the Amazons, Googles, and other groups like that, and we’ve got to compete. That’s what our members are expecting from us.” 

    How long does it take for a program idea to go from conception to launch at your association? If you want to remain relevant in your market, you can’t afford to take months or years to launch new programs. Associations that pivoted quickly during the pandemic and experimented with new practices were rewarded with larger audiences, more engagement, and increased revenue. 

    Agility requires having ideation and decision-making processes that allow you to act quickly despite not having all the answers. You also need configurable SaaS technology, like an AMS, that allows you to adapt to new scenarios. (Bonus points if the AMS has a built-in Certifications Management solution.)

    Become the Professional Development Partner for Industry Employers

    Who’s educating your industry’s workforce now? How much business do your competitors have? What’s preventing you from taking that market share back? 

    When you make it easy for employers to do business with you, they will rely on your certification programs to help them fill skills gaps and retain employees. Establish an employer advisory council to help you identify in-demand competencies and compliance training needs, develop career pathways, and ensure your certificate and certification programs are teaching and validating the right skills and experience.

    Develop credentialing programs for early-career professionals so they can quickly acquire the skills they need, prove their mastery of those competencies, and show prospective employers their commitment to ongoing growth. 

    Differentiate Your Programs from the Competition by Focusing on the Learner Experience

    With all the online competition, education is a commodity— too often, the lowest price wins. To rise above the rest, you must focus on the learning experience. What can you provide customers that they can’t get anywhere else? What need do they have that is going unfulfilled? 

    Do market research to find information. Talk with people and watch what they do. Are they looking for more opportunities to connect and have conversations with others? Then build that into your programs. Experiment with ways to bring learners together more often. 

    Tune-up Your Smart Marketing Machine 

    There’s a lot of noise in your audience’s inboxes and social platforms, so your marketing campaigns must grab and hold their attention. Earn your audience’s attention by telling them what they need to hear in a way that makes them want to take action. What emotions can you activate? What will also appeal to their logical mind?

    I recommend starting with the basics. Know what you want (goals), how you’re going to measure progress toward those goals (metrics), and then come up with persuasive, relevant, and helpful messages targeted at different audience segments. See which tactics meet your metrics and which don’t, then tweak and test again. 

    If you don’t understand your target audience’s behavior, interests, and aspirations, none of this will work. Siloed data is of no use here. You need the full picture of a member or customer—one you can get if your AMS’ API makes it easy to integrate with other systems. 

    Tap into the Experience and Network of Your Technology Partners

    You usually only think about going to your technology partners when you have questions about your software, but your partners are focused on people and practices too. When thinking about experiments and new directions, your Customer Success Manager can help you figure out how to leverage your AMS to make these visions happen. 

    Your tech partners have seen all kinds of programs at associations facing the same challenges and using the same technology. They can introduce you to counterparts in other organizations. I recommend starting a peer network to discuss challenges, share what’s working, and inspire each other to elevate your certification programs to the top of the market.

    Don’t miss the window on establishing your association as a trusted provider of certification programs that stand out from the rest of the competition. If your AMS is not up to the job, it’s time for a technology reshuffle. 

    Val Brotherton

    originally posted here

  • 24 Mar 2022 3:10 PM | Sarah Gamble (Administrator)

    1. Whistleblower Legislation

    Both the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (‘Corporations Act’) and the Taxation Administration Act 1953 (Cth) contain protections for whistleblowers.

    Amending legislation that came into effect on 1 July 2019 saw Part 9.4AAA of the Corporations Act expanded to provide greater protections for whistleblowers who reported misconduct. As part of this suite of whistleblower reforms, public companies (including charities registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC)), large proprietary companies and proprietary companies that are trustees of registrable superannuation entities are required by law to implement a whistleblower policy and to make that policy available to their officers and employees. Effective from 1 January 2020, it is an offence of strict liability for these organisations to not publish a whistleblower policy.

    2. Whistleblower Policy Requirement

    Amongst other things, the Corporations Act requires a whistleblower policy to include information about the legal protections available to whistleblowers, how and to whom the whistleblower may make the disclosure, and how a company will investigate disclosures and protect whistleblowers from detriment.1

    There was a swift response to this new policy requirement. Numerous submissions were made to the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) concerning the unreasonable regulatory burden and onerous requirements that compliance with a mandated whistleblower policy would place upon charities and not-for-profit organisations. The Law Council of Australia made a submission to ASIC seeking an exemption for all companies limited by guarantee registered as charities with the ACNC.2

    3. Exemptions to the Whistleblower Policy Mandate

    ASIC subsequently quelled concerns and provided an exemption under the ASIC Corporations (Whistleblower Policies) Instrument 2019/1146 on 13 November 2019. Under the instrument, charities and not-for-profits are exempt from publishing a whistleblower policy if their annual consolidated revenue is less than $1 million and they are not trading or financial corporations.

    Whether or not charities and not-for-profits fall within the definition of a trading or financial corporation can sometimes be unclear and is dependent upon the organisation’s activities.

    Whilst the exemption lessens the administrative burden for smaller charitable and not-for-profit companies, it does not exempt eligible entities from complying with the general application of the whistleblower protection regime.

    4. Failure to have a compliant whistleblower policy

    There are penalties for failing to comply with the requirement to have a whistleblower policy. Whilst there are no pecuniary penalties available, there are criminal penalties as follows:

    • For an individual: 60 penalty units ($12,600)3
    • For a body corporate: 600 penalty units ($126,000)4

    5. Conclusion

    If an organisation falls within the exemption to need to have a formal whistleblower policy, there may still be benefits from ensuring, in line with legislative requirement, that there is clear documentation on strategies for dealing with whistleblower reports. In fact, the ACNC recommends that all charities – especially those with complex operating environments, high volunteer numbers or those with third party arrangements – consider producing a whistleblower policy even if they fall within the exemption.

    Article written by Mills Oakley

    About Mills Oakley 
    Mills Oakley is a leading independent Australian law firm with 120 partners and more than 650 staff located in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra and Perth.

    We are a Top 10 Australian law firm by size. Our mission is to provide a superior service experience while operating an efficient business model that delivers value for clients, without compromising quality.

    We assist leading corporates in transferring their legal work from higher cost firms in order to achieve significant fee savings whilst retaining an excellent standard of work and client services.

    We service a full range of clients, from ASX200 corporates through to government departments and agencies, private companies, and individuals. Our client base includes some of Australia’s leading companies such as Qantas, Citigroup, Suncorp, IBM, Investa, and many others.

    In 2017, we were awarded the Law Firm of the Year title at the Australasian Law Awards and have consistently been ranked by independent media surveys including those conducted by The Australian and The Australian Financial Review as Australia’s fastest growing law firm as benchmarked against other leading corporate law firms Our continued growth across Australia demonstrates not only our commitment to clients, but also the trust that our clients place in Mills Oakley as a preferred legal service provider.

    Our comprehensive expertise, in conjunction with our entrepreneurial spirit and national reach, means that we are ideally placed to provide the highest level of service.

    For more information, visit


    1 Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) s 1317AI(5) (‘Corporations Act’).
    2 Law Council of Australia, Whistleblower Policies (Consultation Paper 321, 18 September 2019) 4.
    3 Corporations Act (n 1) sch 3.
    4 Corporations Act (n 1) s 1311C. 

  • 23 Mar 2022 1:05 PM | Sarah Gamble (Administrator)

    We all know finding and attracting good talent is difficult right now. But, has your association considered recruiting internally and looking at the staff already part of your team?

    Recruiting and promoting staff from within can strengthen employee engagement and shows that you value your employees and want to invest in them. Giving employees more opportunities to advance their careers, learn new skills and move to a new position that may interest them, is good for morale. It also helps your association build a culture of trust that enhances employee engagement and retention.

    Louise Roper, the Principal Recruitment Consultant at Beaumont People, shares her insights about recruitment struggles the association and membership sector are facing right now. Take a look at the video below.

    Whether you decide to recruit internally, externally, or both, remember always to look at the job requirements and the skills your current employees have, and your association’s culture needs. This will help you make good hiring decisions and build trust in your hiring process.

  • 18 Mar 2022 12:57 PM | Sarah Gamble (Administrator)

    In June 2020, the Federal Government passed the Treasury Laws Amendment (Registries Modernisation and Other Measures) Act 2020 (Cth), requiring all new and existing directors to obtain a Director Identification Number (DIN).

    Resultingly, Part 9.1A was inserted into the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (‘Corporations Act’) and Part 6-7A into the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (Cth) (‘CATSI Act’). These new parts set out the requirements to obtain a DIN and offences for failure to do so.

    1.         What is a DIN?

    A DIN is a unique identifier number comprised of 15 digits issued to directors to verify identity. Directors need only apply once for a DIN as it is permanently assigned to the director.

    2.         What is the purpose of a DIN?

    The Australian Business Registry Services (ABRS), which is overseen by the Australian Tax Office (ATO), is the body responsible for the implementation and administration of DINs. The ABRS notes the purpose of the regime is to help prevent the use of false or fraudulent director identities, ease the tracing of directors’ relationships over time for external administrators and regulators and to combat unlawful director activity such as illegal phoenix activity.

    3.         Who needs to apply and when?

    A DIN is required for directors and acting alternate directors of:

    • a company, registered Australian body or registered foreign company under the Corporations Act;1 and
    • an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporation under the CATSI Act.2

    When a director must apply for a DIN is dependent upon the date of appointment.

    The table below sets out the requirements for Corporations Act directors.3

    Date the individual becomes a director

    Date the individual must apply for a DIN

    On or prior to 31 October 2021

    By 30 November 2022

    Between 1 November 2021 and 4 April 2022

    Within 28 days of appointment

    5 April 2022 onwards

    Prior to appointment

    The table below sets out the requirements for CATSI Act directors.4

    Date the individual becomes a director

    Date the individual must apply for a DIN

    On or prior to 31 October 2022

    By 30 November 2023

    1 November 2022 onwards

    Prior to appointment

    4.         Implications for charities and not-for-profit organisations

    The DIN requirements apply to all ‘registered bodies’ which is inclusive of charities and not-for-profits even if the organisation is registered under the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012 (Cth). Obtaining a DIN is not necessary for incorporated associations which are not registered Australian bodies. Therefore, directors of charities and not-for-profit organisations are required to have a DIN.

    5.         How to apply

    Applications for a DIN must be made personally and are at no cost.

    Directors who are Australian residents can apply with a paper form or online through the ABRS website which requires a myGovID account. Foreign directors must fill out a paper application with the necessary identity documentation.

    6.         Non-compliance

    It is essential that directors comply and keep up to date with DIN requirements as both civil and criminal penalties apply for non-compliance. The Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) is responsible for the enforcement of associated offences set out in the Corporations Act. Relevant offences include failure to have a DIN when required, failure to apply for a DIN when directed by the Registrar, applying for multiple DINs and misrepresenting director ID. Non-compliance may result in an infringement notice leading to potential civil penalties of up to 5,000 penalty units (currently $1.1 million) and/or criminal penalties resulting in up to 12 months imprisonment.5

    Article written by Mills Oakley

    About Mills Oakley 
    Mills Oakley is a leading independent Australian law firm with 120 partners and more than 650 staff located in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra and Perth.

    We are a Top 10 Australian law firm by size. Our mission is to provide a superior service experience while operating an efficient business model that delivers value for clients, without compromising quality.

    We assist leading corporates in transferring their legal work from higher cost firms in order to achieve significant fee savings whilst retaining an excellent standard of work and client services.

    We service a full range of clients, from ASX200 corporates through to government departments and agencies, private companies, and individuals. Our client base includes some of Australia’s leading companies such as Qantas, Citigroup, Suncorp, IBM, Investa, and many others.

    In 2017, we were awarded the Law Firm of the Year title at the Australasian Law Awards and have consistently been ranked by independent media surveys including those conducted by The Australian and The Australian Financial Review as Australia’s fastest growing law firm as benchmarked against other leading corporate law firms Our continued growth across Australia demonstrates not only our commitment to clients, but also the trust that our clients place in Mills Oakley as a preferred legal service provider.

    Our comprehensive expertise, in conjunction with our entrepreneurial spirit and national reach, means that we are ideally placed to provide the highest level of service.

    For more information, visit


    1Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) s 1272C (‘Corporations Act’).
    2Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (Cth) part 6-7A (‘CATSI Act’).
    3Corporations Act (n 1) s 1272D.
    4CATSI Act (n 2) s 308.25.
    5Corporations Act (n 1) sch 3.

  • 18 Mar 2022 4:31 AM | Brett Jeffery, CAE (Administrator)

    It turns out there is an optimal email plan for successfully engaging new members at the outset. And two simple and specific questions in the emails help kickstart the relationship in several beneficial ways.

    Want to get excellent renewal and retention rates with new member onboarding emails? According to the New Member Engagement Survey [PDF] by Kaiser Insights, LLC, and Dynamic Benchmarking, associations that include new member-specific emails in onboarding programs had higher retention rates.

    And the associations that had the best renewal rates used an email plan that roughly follows this 3-3-6 schedule: three emails the first week, once weekly for the next three weeks, and then monthly for six more months.

    “We finally have an evidence-based model for bringing people on board,” said Elizabeth Engel, CAE, chief strategist at Spark Consulting. She recommends asking two specific questions in the latter part of the schedule.

    How Does It Work?

    The initial messages in the first part of the 3-3-6 model tend to be very process oriented,  such as getting members set up with website login information and so forth. Once you are in the monthly email phase, Engel suggests asking these two questions:

    1. How did you hear about us?
    2. What were you looking for when you joined?

    Include a variety of radio buttons or a checkbox in the emails, depending on whether you want one response or multiple responses, but it’s a good idea to have some preset options members can choose from. And in both instances, be sure to include a comment box in case a member comes up with an option you haven’t thought about yet. If enough people come up with the same idea, then you can update the preset options.

    Why Is It Effective?

    Asking people how they heard about your association helps you understand the return on investment of your marketing efforts so you can allocate future dollars appropriately. It also reveals which marketing campaigns are successful—indicating you should do more of them—and it shows which campaigns are less successful and should have dollars redirected from them.

    Asking members what they were looking for when they joined allows you to immediately connect them to what they are interested in to help build a relationship early on with the association’s programs, products, and services.

    “It shows that you are paying attention to her as an individual, that you want to know what she needs, and that you’re there as a solution provider for her,” Engel said.

    What’s the Benefit?

    “The overall benefit for both the member and the association is that everyone is happier and able to get the relationship started more quickly,” Engel said. But once you have that information from the member, it is imperative to do something with it. “It creates a virtuous cycle for everyone,” she said.

    Originally posted here

  • 18 Mar 2022 4:24 AM | Brett Jeffery, CAE (Administrator)

    While many factors contribute to employees leaving their jobs, burnout is a key one in the current environment. To help combat staff burnout, one expert suggests organisations acknowledge the problem, focus on wellness and vacations, and improve work-life balance.

    Over the past two years, many employees continued to work long hours to help keep their organization afloat through the ups and downs of the pandemic. This has inevitably led to burnout, with many workers quitting as part of the Great Resignation.

    To help your employees battle burnout, it’s important to focus on a few key areas, said James Bailey, professor of management at George Washington University. First, employers should acknowledge that burnout is happening.

    “Organizations need to say, ‘Everybody, we know that this is going on, that some of you are burnt out,’” Bailey said. “And then, show that at the top of the organization, you care and you understand.”

    By acknowledging the problem, organizations make space for solutions. Bailey said solutions for burnout typically include things like meditation and taking a break to recharge—such as a vacation. However, during 2020 and 2021, workers took fewer vacation days.

    However, if organizations give employees the opportunity to enact solutions, they are more likely to take self-care actions.

    “Provide resources for employees,” Bailey said. “It could be something as simple as an app, but also it could be your employee assistance program building in elements for a stress-related or burnout-related hotline. Or buy everyone in the organization a yearlong subscription to Headspace.”

    Also, encourage staff to take real vacations, where they truly disconnect from the rigors of work.

    “We’re at the beach in Jamaica, and we should be relaxing, but what are we doing?” Bailey said. “We are checking our phones, answering emails. We’re returning calls. That is exactly what we should not be doing when we’re on vacation.”

    Instead, he said tell staff no email, no phone calls, and no work during their time off. If they have a work mobile phone, make them leave it at the office. Don’t require them to do makeup work when they return—assign staff to cover their duties, so it’s a true vacation.

    “I think vacations aren’t taken seriously in some organizations,” Bailey said. “When you are on vacation, you should be on vacation the whole time. That’s one of the ways you deal with burnout is to reset and move away.”

    Work-Life Balance Matters

    Finally, helping employees achieve proper work-life balance can reduce burnout and help retain staff. This lack of work-life balance is evident when one looks the reality of the Great Resignation versus the myth that’s sprung up around it, according to Bailey.

    “One myth associated with the Great Resignation is that people are using this as an opportunity to career shift,” he said. “For example, they are going from a career in accounting to one working in nonprofits in a non-accounting function, so they feel like they’re giving back more to the world. Or people are becoming carpenters or artists. That is not happening.”

    What is happening, he says, is people are looking for the same type of job, and finding it with more flexibility, better work-life balance, and, sometimes, more pay.

    “One place is saying, ‘We are all going back full-time starting May 31’ or whatever the date might be, and the other one has said, ‘Nope, we’ve already decided we’re going to stay on two days a week in the office and three days at home.’ It’s a really big lifestyle drop.”

    Ultimately, organizations must figure out how to create that work-life balance in a way that employees find desirable. “That’s going to include working from home,” Bailey said. “That’s going to include better bonuses, more vacation time, more discretion over their work, and if possible, more pay.”

    What has your organization done to reduce employee burnout? Share in the comments.

    By Rasheeda Childress Mar 16, 2022

    Originally posted here 

  • 18 Mar 2022 4:20 AM | Brett Jeffery, CAE (Administrator)

    Every organisation is unique in its own way, with its own challenges and opportunities. Your customer base may be comprised of members, subscribers, donors or “friends.” However, there are five important topics of exploration and discussion that will improve your relationship with your audience, no matter what you call them. Follow these guidelines and it will become a pleasure for your team to interact with your valuable constituency!


    Sounds so simple, but if your acquisition team isn’t in sync with your benefit delivery team, a chasm can open up.

    Acquisition is all about getting a “YES,” certainly. But if the promise doesn’t match the experience, your retention will suffer.

    How realistic is your acquisition pitch?

    • Do you position your organisation as the most authoritative source, and promise to answer all their questions? It’s a very good goal, but make sure people know how to ask the questions so you can answer them.
    • If your portfolio has a lot of discounts, are they truly good deals?
    • If you have a product testing program, are you prepared to manage expectations (because it’s unlikely you’ll have enough products for 100% of your audience members to test-and-keep)?
    • Are benefits exclusive, or can they pick up the magazine on the newsstand for less (or read it online at no cost)?
    • If you’re an advocacy organization, do you really represent the audience?

    Persuasion is necessary to get a prospect to say yes, but it’s also the first step on a journey you’re asking them to take with you. It’s the foundation of your solid, authentic, long-term relationship.

    If you never get that second “date,” maybe your elevator pitch is out of touch.


    Almost without exception, relationships come apart because one or both parties weren’t listening. It’s no different in a community-based organisation.

    You might be thinking about your organization all day, every day. It’s likely your audience members only think of you when you prompt them, or when they need you. So what else is consuming their day? Find plausible ways to ask, and you’ll discover new opportunities to make yourself more valued (and improved retention will reflect the effort).

    For example, when COVID-19 brought in-person networking events to an abrupt halt, organizations that listened and responded with live-stream options won the day.

    Listen at every possible interaction. For example, if you’re publishing information, do you know if your recipients are a) reading what you publish and b) understanding what it means for them? A simple, frequent reader satisfaction survey can give your content team great feedback.

    If a regular column isn’t being read, replace it with something that does engage the reader. You can’t influence your audience if they aren’t reading what you send.

    Are your benefits resonating and perceived as important? Active listening might uncover something that is changing in their world that could influence how you modify benefits, or seek new ones.

    We often find that the benefits new audience members say are very important (like getting good deals through the organization) fade over time and other, less quantifiable but more satisfying reasons for affiliating take over. Networking. Pride in affiliation. Having fun. Looking to your organization first as a reliable, trustworthy source of information that makes what they do more rewarding.

    Conversely, you need your audience members to listen to you as well. You can’t retain your position as an authoritative source and justify that fee for participation if your audience isn’t engaging with you. And that means relevant, authentic communication. Because here’s the thing: nothing you send is required reading.

    A good communicator can take the feedback from your member surveys and craft your messages in a style, format, cadence that your audience will read. “I hear what you’re saying” goes a long way toward engagement.


    Once they say “yes” to your invitation, it’s time to stop selling (sidenote: use “invitation” not “application” unless you really could deny them access).

    This is especially true when it’s time to renew. Reselling benefits can backfire. They may not have used some (or even any) of the benefits, but still value affiliation. Reminding them of benefits they didn’t use gives them an opening to say, “Well, I got along just fine without all those things, I guess I won’t renew.”

    Inclusive, engaging communication that sends the message they belong, are valued, and welcomed as a part of the community makes for a stronger bond.

    But don’t assume without a foundation. For example, if you assume they know how to log in and find the good stuff without a guide to train them, both your staff and your constituency will be frustrated. Here’s where a well-crafted onboarding/re-boarding program is a wonderful surrogate for the neighborhood welcome wagon. It’s not that you want them to do everything by themselves, it’s that you want them to be comfortable with your benefits and programs enough that they COULD find an answer without calling your service team.

    If they reach the end of their term and say, “I didn’t know I had access to  <insert benefit here>,” you’ve failed them and sold yourself short. You’ve also failed your team by not making it clear what they do all day on behalf of the audience and your organizational goals.


    Don’t be the person at the party who only talks about themselves. A relationship with a self-centered person doesn’t last long, right? The same is true in a community. If everything that comes from your organization is “We/Our/I/Me,” you’re sending a pretty strong message that it’s not about the individual and how THEY value and engage with you.

    How many times have you read (or written) the phrase “we’re so proud” in your communications? This phrase is a big brick wall. Consider instead, “you will benefit from” which says the organization has something to share that will improve their experience.

    More than almost anything else you could do, this is a culture-creator. When staff starts to tear down the “we” wall, collaboration and community thrives.


    Your team is NOT there to wait on your audience members. Environments that allow constituents to bully, berate or make direct demands of your staff are toxic and painful for everyone.

    Mutual respect, engaging communications and a culture of service is the goal. Think of staff as hosts. They are experts on your product, and are best equipped to show your audience members how to maximize their experience. Your staff should be considered skilled guides, not pack mules!

    Instituting a practice of listening and sharing results can help you create a healthy culture of service. When staff knows that what they do to enhance someone’s experience results in a higher satisfaction score (like those who use the Net Promoter Score methodology), they better understand how their actions impact the score and the ultimate goal of retention.


    Have you walked in your their shoes lately? Turn around and look at your organization through their eyes. Would you go on that second date, or would you be edging your way toward the door to get away from the person who really isn’t interested in anything but hearing him or herself talk?

    A healthy, mutually beneficial relationship between audience members and staff is possible if you follow these steps.

  • 11 Mar 2022 4:24 AM | Brett Jeffery, CAE (Administrator)

    The natural desire to see people again, mixed with the need to lean on networking for hiring reasons, might be enough to get people to come back to in-person events in 2022.

    After two years of virtual and hybrid meetings, signs are showing that in-person events could make a big comeback in 2022, thanks in part to a decline in COVID-19 cases, improved protocols, and a recharged economy.

    But a big factor might actually be the networking element—something that Inc. contributor Ken Sterling, executive vice president at the speakers bureau BigSpeak, pointed to in a recent piece, in which he made the bold claim that “2022 will be the busiest year in event history.”

    And for associations looking to put on events, there might be a good reason to emphasize networking in the coming months.

    Great resource can be downloaded here

    What’s the Strategy?

    There’s a case to build some of the earliest return in-person events around networking opportunities, as noted by The Wall Street Journal, which said that both traditional conferences and smaller gala-style networking events have started to pick up interest this year.

    Even events that have found themselves sitting on the sidelines during the early parts of the pandemic, such as South by Southwest and the annual TED conference, are making their returns within the next month.

    And attendees of those events may need to shake off a bit of rust in the process.

    “We were joking about how we had to relearn our social skills,” said Lisa Lopez, a psychology professor, in comments to the Journal, about attending an event in San Diego recently. “We’re all developmental psychologists who study social and academic development, and we had to retrain ourselves on social development.”

    Why Is It Effective?

    To put it simply, people are starved for in-person interaction, so evidence is growing that people who typically attend events might finally be driven to do something in person again thanks to a growing need for networking.

    And there’s even an underlying factor making networking important, per Sterling—the Great Resignation. Companies are in need of new employees.

    “Many talented people are looking for better working conditions and wages,” he wrote. “One of the best ways to network for and to keep new talent is to send people to in-person events and meetings.”

    What’s the Potential?

    Beyond the obvious business benefits—the revival and return of the event industry, which could help associations bounce back in a big way in 2022—it also reflects an opportunity to strengthen the bonds that tie your association together.

    There are, of course, challenges to consider—including having effective COVID-19 protocols and factors such as social distancing—but networking might just be the factor that ensures a return to event success.

    By Ernie Smith Mar 07, 2022

    originally posted here

  • 11 Mar 2022 4:21 AM | Brett Jeffery, CAE (Administrator)

    Aiming to get more member referrals is a great way to grow your membership because there's no better way to prove that you're delivering value than to have happy members tell their friends. In fact, the time that you spend on setting up processes around member referrals will be well worth it for several reasons.

    Benefits to Using Member Referrals

    First of all, it's cost-effective.

    Word-of-mouth is the most trusted form of advertising there is and it can literally cost you nothing once you get your initial systems set up. However, referrals won't just automatically happen. We might think that they will because we're awesome enough...but most people are busy and your organization is not necessarily top-of-mind for them. You definitely have to make an intentional effort to ask.

    Secondly, it's scalable.

    Scalable means that you can get more results without putting in more effort. Once you have the systems in place to ask for referrals and to follow up on those referrals, most of the work can be automated. At that point, it doesn't really matter if you get one referral a week, ten referrals a week, or a thousand referrals a week. Automation takes care of everything, so it's not additional work for you to get more member referrals!

    Third, referrals build relationships.

    And we are definitely in the relationship business! The referred person comes in as a much warmer connection than someone who is brand new to your organization. Plus, when you take exceptionally good care of the referred person, the member who referred them feels good about making the introduction.

    Fourth, this is a sustainable strategy.

    With other types of marketing, you often have to gear up for a big push or make a big investment anytime you want to implement. When you have a referral system in place, it just chugs away behind-the-scenes day-after-day without sucking up more resources.

    Encouraging referrals is a really smart growth strategy. There's a big upside without much additional time and effort on the part of the membership leader.

    To get those referrals rolling requires a bit of planning, though.

    Things to incorporate into your member referral approach

    1. Some type of landing page for your referral program, or at least a dedicated page on your website.

    If you are offering any kind of incentive for referrals, you'll need someplace to talk about how that works. And even if you're not offering an incentive, you need someplace for members to submit their referrals.

    2. A form for submitting the referred person's information

    You'll want to capture the referred person's contact information so that you can reach out to them with follow-up. You should also capture the member's information so you can appropriately thank them and keep them in the loop if their referred person ultimately decides to join.

    3. A follow-up sequence for the referred person

    A well-constructed follow-up can make the difference between whether the potential new member is intrigued by what you offer, or if they just ignore you. When you use a software like JourneyCARE, you can build all sorts of things into a follow-up sequence to nurture this referral in a really special way. Incorporate emails, text messages, voicemail drops, personal reach-outs from one of your ambassadors, or a wide variety of other creative actions.

    4. A follow-up sequence for your member who made the referral

    At a minimum, you want to thank this person for thinking of your organization and going to the effort to refer their friend. Beyond that, be sure to add in a piece where you specifically let the member know when their friend joins. They may hear about it from the person that they referred, but it's also nice for them to hear it from you. It says that you noticed and appreciated their effort, which makes them more inclined to do it again in the future.

    5. A process for automatic asks built into your membership journey

    There are a lot of organizations that encourage referrals just at specific times during the year, like during a Member Appreciation Month or an annual membership drive. However, you can actually build the process of asking for referrals right on into your member care check-ins, perhaps timing them quarterly, or after major events, or when a member has submitted a testimonial, or if you've done a member profile story. As with most aspects of building an exceptional member journey, you are limited only by your imagination.

    Most of these ideas could be implemented in your organization quickly. In fact, you may be doing some of these things, but not others...but all of these pieces kind of work together to create a well-oiled referral engine, so I encourage you to look at what's in place and what's not.

    This last week, I did an over-the-shoulder training focused on how JourneyCARE can be used to encourage member referrals. If you missed that, you can connect with the live trainings here. You'll see all of the upcoming topics and be able to access past replays.

    And, of course, if you'd like to chat about how to build this out for your organization, let's get on a Zoom and chat. In just 30 minutes, I'm confident I can show you how to start getting more referrals from your members in just 30 days.

    You can hop directly into my calendar by going to There, you'll see days and times that are available and make an appointment instantly.

    I'll be back next week with another great article. In the meantime, take care!

    About Joy Duling

    Joy Duling headshot

    Joy Duling has been working with leaders of associations, trade groups, and nonprofits since 2005, through her consulting practice, which is aptly named, The Joy of Membership. In addition to her role as a trusted advisor, Joy served for more than a decade as Executive Director of a membership-based nonprofit herself and is a national speaker and podcaster on topics related to experience design and membership growth.

    Connect with Joy on LinkedIn

    Book a Consult on Joy's Calendar

    originally posted here

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