Sector and AuSAE News

  • 23 Oct 2020 4:37 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Foundation regularly reports on association sources and ratios. According to a November 2016 report, revenues from membership dues were down to 45% of total revenue for trade associations and a meager 30% for professional associations.

    Advances in technology have opened new doors of opportunity to drive non-dues revenue. Let’s take some lessons from the business world and leverage them into association revenue ideas outside the traditional membership fee.

    PODCASTS

    For those who may not be aware, podcasts have enjoyed an enormous surge in popularity. At least 112 million Americans have listened to podcasts, a figure up 11 percent from 2017, with 67 million listening to podcasts every month.

    Podcasts supply an affordable way to drive content and engage members, as well as generate non-dues revenue. Talk about your association and its particular industry and benefits. Interview key association members on topics relevant to your membership. After you have a following, you may even consider charging to have some members or partners interviewed on the podcast.

    As your podcast grows in popularity, especially a wide local audience, you could look into sponsorships from other related businesses. Sell banner ads or even mentions in the podcast itself.

    Podcasts also supply an opportunity to collect new membership leads. End each broadcast with a way listeners can find out more about your association and its benefits.

    A YOUTUBE CHANNEL

    Depending on your association’s purpose or related industry, you can produce how-to or promotional videos and post them to your association’s own YouTube channel. Once a channel reaches 4,000 watch hours in the previous 12 months and 1,000 subscribers, it is eligible for the YouTube monetization program.

    YouTube also allows you to produce a live feed with up to 6 cameras that you control, for little to no cost. Imagine a world where you can do live telecasts at your events or interviews. And yes, even your podcasts can live on your YouTube channel.

    This combines publicity for your association with non-dues revenue. Win-win for everyone, especially your association members. And why not be the first association in your area with your own YouTube channel?

    A LA CARTE MEMBERSHIP PERKS

    Why not utilize the base of people that you are already engaged with to create non-dues revenue by expanding your offerings with a la carte purchase opportunities? Possible perks that could be available for an ongoing or one-time additional fee include:

    • Educational events that offer industry certification or earned credit
    • Listings in or access to an exclusive job board
    • Consultation with an expert who holds a broad appeal
    • Access to association resources (such as a state-of-the-art lab or online catalogs)
    • Paper copy of online resources (nominal fee)
    • Paid access to one-time or multiple direct mailing list
    • First look at market research
    • Opportunity to send out surveys or marketing materials to members
    • Access to pertinent industry data
    • Listing in an associate member directory

    This is another great opportunity to look at what you’re offering those associate members. Some services might work well as a free membership perk while others could be offered for an additional fee.

    Your association type and purpose will dictate which of these association revenue ideas will work for you. Whatever you decide to do, it may require a deeper dive into your association culture and structure.

    This blog was originally published by CIMATRI. CIMATRI delivers cost-effective, efficient solutions that optimize your association’s technology for complete digital transformation, and you can learn more about their offerings on their website.

    ASHLEY NEAL

    Content Intern at AssociationSuccess.org | ashleyneal@associationsuccess.org | Website

    Ashley joined the AssociationSuccess.org content team in March of 2020. Having previously interned with Innovative Advertising, a division of People Who Think, LLC, Ashley discovered her love for mass communication through hands on experience. Ashley is passionate about making a safer, and healthier environment through education, and does what she can to make the world a better place.


  • 15 Oct 2020 8:24 AM | Deleted user

    Influencers can drive a lot of attention and engagement toward your cause. But for the partnership to work, it takes the right influencer and an association that knows how to negotiate and collaborate effectively.

    When thinking through your cause-marketing strategy, working with an influencer might not spring to mind. But influencers are powerful persuaders who have built trust with their audiences. On top of that, influencers tend to prioritize authenticity—a useful trait for cause marketing—says Kristy Sammis, executive director of the Influencer Marketing Association.

    “A lot of influencers won’t take work if it doesn’t make sense for who they are,” she says. Consider these tips to find the right influencers for your cause-marketing efforts and how to collaborate with them effectively.

    LOOK WITHIN

    Before venturing out into the world of influencers, take a look in-house—the right influencer could be a member of your organization. “I guarantee that any association has members who are natural advocates, because they’re already members and they have a good following across social media,” Sammis says.

    If a member has a strong online presence, ask if they would be willing to advocate for your association and its cause. To promote participation, you could offer member incentives such as discounts and special benefits, similar to a member referral program.

    SEARCH WITH FOCUS

    If you look outside your association, you’ll want to find an influencer who naturally aligns with your cause, not just someone with a large following. Instead of mass-emailing stock messages to a bunch of popular influencers—which Sammis calls the “spray and pray” method—identify ones who fit your niche and reach out to them.

    A simple online search is a good place to start. To narrow your search, check Twitter and Instagram to see who’s been using hashtags that relate to your cause or organization.

    Take advantage of tools that go deeper: The free site Upfluence offers an influencer search tool, and Influence.co provides a platform where you can build relationships with influencers. Platforms like these offer data on an influencer’s performance, so you’ll get a sense for how effective his or her messaging is. As you search, keep in mind that featuring diverse and underrepresented voices will benefit your organization, as inclusive marketing is on the rise.

    Once you’ve identified candidates, do your research: Look at their entire social media presence to make sure they are truly compatible with your association’s message.

    “Even if you’re expecting them to post on Instagram, see what they’re saying on Twitter,” Sammis says. “It’s about looking at the whole picture.”

    FIND AN INFLUENCER WHO PRIZES AUTHENTICITY

    In cause marketing, you’re asking an influencer to advocate for a cause, not a product, which is why the message needs to be genuine. Sammis says influencers who post only sponsored content might not be your best bet because the message won’t seem as authentic.

    Look for someone who populates his or her feed with a balance of sponsored and nonsponsored content—a sign that the influencer knows how to work with a brand while maintaining a distinct, authentic voice.

    To see a successful example of this, look to the the Arbor Day Foundation, a nonprofit that partnered with popular YouTube content creators Jimmy Donaldson (better known as MrBeast) and Mark Rober on the viral #TeamTrees campaign, a fundraiser with the goal of planting 20 million trees. Donaldson’s and Rober’s positions as authentic, influential voices attracted major publicity and led to $20 million in donations in just a few months.

    INVITE COLLABORATION

    When approaching influencers, it’s useful to have a specific plan of action to present to them—where they’ll post, how often, the type of content, and so forth. But Sammis says that associations will not get the best out of influencers if they treat them as if they’re freelance copywriters or photographers instead of collaborators.

    “Influencers love to be consulted, to be collaborative, and to be given the freedom to be creative,” she says. Give influencers a chance to push back on your original idea and offer their own, as they’ll be most effective when using their own words in a genuine way.

    That said, cause marketing could have you talking about serious or sensitive topics, so it’s reasonable for associations to provide guidelines on tone, topics to avoid, and what language is appropriate.

    NEGOTIATE WITH INDUSTRY BENCHMARKS IN MIND

    It’ll help to have a sense of what to offer influencers based on their reach and what you’re asking of them. Sammis says while cost fluctuates from one influencer to another, an expected charge from a micro-influencer (someone with 10,000 to 50,000 followers) for a single Instagram post would be $300 to $500. Sammis says payment is usually preferred, but benefits such as a membership in your organization are appropriate as well.

    Some organizations may bristle at paying an influencer on ethical grounds, but Sammis argues that it’s not payment for a glowing recommendation.

    “You’re not paying the influencer for their favored opinion—you’re paying the influencer for their time, for their creativity, for the effort that they’re putting into this,” she says.

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

  • 15 Oct 2020 8:21 AM | Deleted user

    In the first of our three-part series about data today, we invite people who typically make gut decisions to consider the value of data-based decision-making. How do you win over the skeptics? Read on for a few ideas.

    COVID-19 has made the case for the value of data-based decision making to many association pros who might have previously missed it. After all, given the precarious situations the pandemic has created, who wants to be caught guessing?

    “If you can understand the data behind a business and how it ties to the operations, you could really understand how to control the outcomes you’re going to get,” says Association Analytics CEO Julie Sciullo.

    Still, not everyone may be on board. So, how do you effectively connect with the stragglers? Sciullo offers a few ideas for selling analytics within an organization:

    Narrow your initial focus. For many associations, trying to sell an analytics-based approach to a skeptical board or executive team means building a track record of success beforehand. “I would say start smaller, and start with whatever your main revenue driver is—so if you’re a trade group, with your event; if you’re a membership group, start with your membership,” Sciullo says. During this time, it’s best not to complicate things with data that goes too in-depth, she adds: “Start simple and then show the value.”

    Present the data in a dashboard format. In the past, some people might have rolled their eyes at data in part because of the way it was presented—Sciullo notes that data can be twisted to support an argument. But presenting data in an objective dashboard format, she says, can offer a stronger baseline for understanding the state of your organization and its members—something many leaders struggle to capture. “It’s really hard to get a 360 view of your customers—I mean members and nonmembers,” she says. “Typically, you want to know just as much of your nonmembers as you do your members.” An objective data visualization can supply that comprehensive view because of the breadth of information at hand. When presented this way, its value is more likely to click with leaders. “There’s just like this lightbulb that goes off,” Sciullo says.

    Set the example at a higher level. What if the data skeptics aren’t in your boardroom but on your staff? Executives need to set the tone. Sciullo cited an example of a client who now asks employees to study the data at meetings before pitching ideas, to ensure the ideas are relevant to the data. “They don’t go in and start an agenda until data is brought to the table,” Sciullo says. “And so if you don’t have data to support whatever you’re bringing to the table, it’s not going to be entertained.” This approach, she says, will encourage data skeptics at lower levels to take the research seriously “because you know your boss looks.”

    Once everyone is on board with data analytics, she says, it can open up opportunities, something she has seen in many organizations that have invested in data analytics in the wake of COVID-19. Among other things, she says it discourages a siloed approach and allows decisions to be made from a position of offense rather than reflexively—which matters now more than ever.

    “When it comes down to you and your organization and your members and, you know, your future as an association, you have to use your data,” she says.

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

  • 15 Oct 2020 8:11 AM | Deleted user

    Delivering useful, actionable information to members throughout their first year will have them ready to renew.

    So you’ve got a bevy of new members in your organization. Great news—but keeping new members engaged until renewal isn’t easy. Associations must captivate new members throughout their first year to build their member base long-term.

    “It’s about nurturing them in that first year because that is critical to them coming back,” says Rachael McGuffin, membership and community manager at the International Society of Automation (ISA). “You lose most of your members in that first year.”

    A drip campaign is an effective way to engage members, as it delivers personalized, relevant information. Some organizations run drip campaigns that last just a few months, but research shows that new members respond best to a campaign that lasts their full first year and is delivered through email, as association leaders rated email as their most effective engagement tactic for new members. Use these tips as you create your own yearlong email drip campaign.

    FOCUS ON NURTURING MEMBERS

    The goal of a first-year campaign should be to provide members with essential information that will help them make the most of their membership. At ISA, members receive four emails, one per quarter:

    • The first is about getting started, showing new members how to set up their member profile.
    • The second is about making connections, offering information about divisions within the organization that members can join.
    • The third is about staying informed, explaining how to get the latest industry news and content that will help them professionally.
    • The fourth is about getting involved, detailing how members can volunteer at ISA.

    “These emails actually had a higher open rate than any of our other emails at ISA,” McGuffin says, noting that this campaign’s key performance indicators (KPIs) exceeded industry benchmarks.

    PROVIDE A CALL TO ACTION

    Every email in ISA’s drip campaign directs members to a landing page with more information. Research shows that calls to action can have a dramatic effect on engagement—in some cases, a 371 percent increase in clicks.

    “You definitely want your call to action right upfront,” McGuffin says. “It’s about giving them something to do.”

    DON’T FILL UP MEMBER INBOXES

    ISA’s new-member campaign is only one part of its communications strategy. Consider how frequently you contact members overall to determine an appropriate number of drip campaign emails. McGuffin has found that spreading out a small batch of emails across a full year has kept new members engaged without overwhelming them.

    “Talking to members too much might scare them at first,” she says. “They’re also going to be getting emails about our products and services, so we have to be careful not to bombard them.”

    The optimal email cadence will depend on your members, but organizations such as MarketingSherpa have found that most people would like to hear at least monthly from organizations they’ve done business with. According to SendGrid’s 2018 global email benchmark report, the nonprofit industry’s median monthly send rate is two emails a month.

    TAKE ADVANTAGE OF AUTOMATION TOOLS

    Email marketing automation platforms are powerful tools for drip marketing campaigns. You can set up a campaign that is triggered by a specific action—such as a member joining your organization—and from there, the series of emails is sent automatically. Each recipient is on his or her own timeline, so the message is always relevant.

    USE SEGMENTATION TO PERSONALIZE MESSAGING

    You can divide your group of new members into smaller groups based on location, age, areas of interest, and other factors. Many email marketing platforms let you segment your audience, so you can tweak your messages to cater to each group.

    “It adds a whole new level of complexity, and if you are able to do that, I say go for that,” McGuffin says.

    The result? Higher open rates and click-through rates, according to Klaviyo’s Email Segmentation Benchmark Report.

    MEASURING SUCCESS

    Email marketing platforms track metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, and bounce rates. Compare these KPIs against nonprofit industry benchmarks to get a sense of how your campaign is doing. This will help you hone your campaign so you can better engage future members. And if you’ve done new-member drip campaigns before, you can see if there have been year-over-year improvements in engagement and renewals.

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

  • 15 Oct 2020 5:01 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    Change is an unavoidable part of life. 

    Some changes are positive, like a brilliant executive taking the helm or a sudden flood of funding transforming your association’s capabilities. Others can be difficult, like an economic downturn that prompts layoffs. And other changes are more mundane but no less monumental, such as the emergence of technology or shifts in language. 

    To survive and thrive, associations need to have change management strategies they can count on. 

    Having a change management plan that supports employees will help your organization evolve.

    Have a clear objective 

    By its very nature, change is disruptive. Before asking your entire organization to change its daily operations, it’s crucial to identify and articulate a clear objective. 

    Employees and members need to understand why the proposed change matters, what it will accomplish and how it will strengthen the organization in the long run. When organizations skip this step, widespread dissatisfaction can swiftly spread. 

    If you can demonstrate how a proposed change aligns with your association’s core purpose, you might be surprised by how quickly people adapt.

    Get the right people involved 

    Change isn’t just about telling others to do things differently — it also means listening to people with direct involvement in processes and trusting their expertise.

    When guiding an organization through a period of change, it’s important to make sure the right people are involved. 

    This doesn’t exclusively mean C-suite leaders.

    While some changes will be internal, others might even benefit from other sources of input. If your association is considering two equally promising courses of action, you could poll members or even the public to decide. The nature of the change at hand will help you determine who is best positioned to weigh in.

    As a general rule, the right people will bring lived experience, knowledge and insight to the table, helping your association to successfully move forward.

    Have an inclusive mindset

    Thoughtful, effective change management takes everyone into account. Every association is made up of people with diverse experiences, roles and identities. 

    These individuals may require slightly different support through times of change — and have unique strengths to offer.

    When assembling working groups or soliciting feedback, it’s crucial to include as many perspectives as possible. Not only is this a morally sound practice, but as the old saying goes, many hands make light work. 

    An inclusive approach to change management can help your association spot potential issues ahead of time, and come up with practical solutions. 

    Communicate like crazy

    Successful leaders never miss an opportunity to communicate with their teams. 

    When your association is experiencing significant change, a single email, meeting, or memo won’t suffice. Instead, leaders should spend time developing a plan for when and how to communicate—and reiterate—key messages.

    Though you might worry about nagging, repeating important information is rooted in empathy. During periods of intense change, your employees may need multiple reminders before they settle into a groove. 

    Reinforcing new information will help everyone cope with any bumps along the way, and help managers avoid making any one employee feel singled out. If you feel like a broken record, you’re doing something right. 

    With excellent communication and thoughtful inclusion, change management doesn’t have to be intimidating. With enough practice, your association will become nimble enough to weather changes big and small.


  • 15 Oct 2020 4:47 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    Most publications attract a handful of true fans — readers who devour every post, share content on social media and open every newsletter. 

    But in the long run, understanding who doesn’t regularly read your content — and why — is far more valuable. If you can identify the disconnect between your content and your audience’s needs, you can begin to close the gap and increase engagement. 

    Still, it’s not always clear how to start. Here are four steps you can take to begin engaging disinterested readers. 

    Understand your audience

    You understand your fans, but what about the rest of your audience? Developing a complete picture of your audience will help you develop content that addresses their needs and provides genuinely helpful information.

    The reality is your total audience will include multiple segments. These subgroups might be defined by:

    • Niche or specialty within your industry
    • Level of professional experience and seniority
    • Geographic region
    • Demographic factors, such as race and gender

    There are many ways to identify these segments, but two tactics stand out.

    First, take a look at any data and analytics you can access. Data will reveal basic demographic and behavioral information, such as where your audience lives and how they find your content.

    To clarify further nuances, you can go one step further by surveying your audience. Be sure to leave a few open ended questions so you can gather feedback about what kind of content they’re most interested in reading.


    Personalize your content 

    Because no two readers are exactly the same, adding personal touches can help cater to a variety of perspectives. It can also pull readers deeper into your content by helping them discover more articles they might enjoy.

    If your organization has the technological capability, you can implement website features that automatically recommend articles based on what a reader has previously read. This can create a variety of personalized journeys through your archive. 

    If your website capabilities are limited, you can still segment your newsletter audience with relatively little effort. Rather than sending out one newsletter that contains a mix of content that not all subscribers will be interested in, you can create several newsletters that focus narrowly on specific topics. 

    Nurture reading habits

    When it comes to content, less isn’t always more. Publishing too infrequently can cause your content to fade from readers’ minds. If other outlets are filling the void, your content might be lost in the shuffle. 

    To stand out in readers’ minds, it’s important to publish frequently and consistently. If publishing daily is out of reach — as it is for most organizations — a weekly cadence may be more reasonable. 

    While your current staff may be unable to meet this pace, there are plenty of creative opportunities to increase the amount of content you publish. 

    Launching a program for your readers to contribute content can increase the frequency of publication. If you’re unable to hire more full time staff, consider hiring freelancers to work on assignments as needed.

    Step 4: Plan for the Future

    Adjusting your content strategy using these tips may drive some initial results — but your content journey shouldn’t stop there. As your content gains traction, it’s important to step back, refine your plan, and repeat the cycle. 

    Analyzing your results will help you set attainable, metrics-driven goals. As you identify content that performs well, you’ll be able to replicate the factors that make it successful and cater further to your audience.

    BY ASSOCIATIONSUCCESS.ORG STAFF

    9 October 2020

  • 14 Oct 2020 10:37 AM | Kerrie Green

    Welcome back to our AuSAE Member Chat Series – Half an Hour of Power. This week we are delighted to have sat down with AuSAE member, Matthew Fisher, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Chiropractors Association (ACA).

    In a short 30 minute interview we discussed four key questions with Matthew to reflect on the last six months and look forward to the future post this crisis.

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

    In the next few months the associations’ focus will be on reflection and making decisions on what we want to continue, stop and start doing more of. Over this period the ACA has sent over 100 separate pieces of communication for members from both a business and health practitioner perspective. We will continue to monitor the current situation for members and provide support as we move into a stable COVID operating environment.

    After a successful membership renewal period, achieving a 95% retention rate, our focus will turn to non-member recruitment. The work we have provided over this crisis has impacted and helped not just our members but the profession as a whole.

    Most importantly, as an Association CEO I will be encouraging the team to take a break, rejuvenate and prepare themselves as we move towards the end of the year. The toll this year has taken on everyone is something we all need to consider. The focus shouldn’t be just on our teams but ourselves as leaders of Associations and drivers of key business objectives. We can’t fill from an empty cup. 

    Areas of concern

    The biggest challenge for the organisation moving forward is aligning our strategic direction, public perception and ensuring the broader profession understand why we do what we do. Over the last few years we have worked hard in media and public relations to increase awareness and understanding of the profession and the role the ACA plays.

    Areas of opportunity

    As an association moving forward we want to ensure we capture and harness the great work we have achieved in the past six months. The impact we have achieved in advocating for the sector during COVID-19 is significant and affects the entire profession.

    Looking forward into next year, we have an opportunity to focus on building the reputation and standing of the profession, building on positive public perception and increasing our penetration into the profession. 

    Celebrated moments in the last six months

    We moved out of our offices on March 24 and are still working from home. Over this period, the performance and culture of the organisation has improved. The team are working well together and this challenging time has aligned the team towards a common goal. We are seeing more communication, collaboration and understanding of one another.

    The team have transitioned well and as a leader it does make you think about your options for office space and working arrangements. Do we really need an office, do we want to wear office attire again, do we want to travel as much as we were, do we want to commute back and forth? This year has shown that we can perform and operate successfully in a new working environment and this needs to be considered as we move back into business as “normal”.

  • 13 Oct 2020 3:33 PM | Deleted user

    Alexandria, VA, USA (24 September, 2020) — Advanced Solutions International (ASI), a leading global provider of software and services for associations and non-profits, today announced that Brookside Equity Partners has made a significant investment designed to support the company’s long-term growth and expansion plans.  Learn more at www.advsol.com/prASIinvestment.

    ASI is the company behind the iMIS Cloud Engagement Management System (EMS)™.  Brookside Equity Partners makes strategic private equity investments in middle-market companies with a philosophy of partnering with what they believe to be excellent management teams to help create long-term value. The investment will be used to increase ASI’s market share in the global association and non-profit communities, enhance global product offerings, and support new initiatives.

    “Brookside Equity Partners’ investment in ASI is a testament to the value of our strategic transition to a Software as a Service (SaaS) model starting in 2014, our talented staff, and long-term growth potential,” said Robert Alves, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of ASI.  “Our partnership with this impressive, well-respected firm brings us access to patient and flexible growth capital in addition to an infusion of fresh ideas and experience that will guide us as we move into the future.”

    “ASI is a world-class leader in the global association marketplace and we’re looking forward to working with the company to expand its market share,” said Donald L. Hawks III, Managing Director & President of Brookside Equity Partners.  “As one of the longest-tenured software providers in the association and non-profit market, ASI has continually delivered innovative technology solutions over its nearly thirty-year history and developed meaningful relationships with its loyal customer base.  ASI also has tremendous upside potential in the years to come and we’re excited to support this.”

    Terms of the deal were not disclosed.  While Brookside Equity Partners is the primary investor, ASI is partnering with a number of financial institutions — including GarMark Partners and Investcorp Credit Management BDC, Inc. — that will provide debt and equity capital.  Mr. Hawks and Michael LaConti, Principal of Brookside Equity Partners, will join ASI’s Board of Directors.

    About Brookside Equity Partners

    Brookside Equity Partners LLC focuses on private equity investments, including direct control investments, majority or minority co-investments alongside of other investment firms, and, on a selective basis, investments in private funds or special situations.  Brookside Equity Partners emphasises LBO transactions but will consider a limited number of growth capital investments in partnership with other value-added investors.  The team at Brookside aims to partner with excellent management teams and co-investors to help create long term value.

    Brookside Equity Partners is not a traditional fixed-term private equity fund.  Its capital, whether from individuals, families, or other sources, is evergreen, patient, and flexible.  Brookside Equity Partners investment horizons are determined by the needs of the businesses in which it invests, rather than by pre-determined investment periods.  This flexibility distinguishes the firm from other private equity groups which may seek investment realisations based on fund raising cycles rather than fundamental business reasons.  Management teams can take comfort in the fact that exit decisions will be made in partnership with management and not pressures imposed by outside limited partners.  In addition, investments are structured with a conservative capital base and term that are appropriate for the company.  Learn more at: 
    www.brooksideequity.com/.

    About GarMark Partners

    GarMark Partners provides direct lending and structured equity capital to a wide range of middle market companies and small businesses. Since GarMark's founding in 1997, we have invested more than $1.5 billion in over 75 portfolio companies covering a wide range of industries and transaction types. We provide capital for sponsored as well as non-sponsored transactions through offices in Stamford, CT; Vero Beach, FL; and Detroit, MI. More information on GarMark may be found at www.garmark.com.

    About ASI

    Advanced Solutions International (ASI) is a leading global provider of cloud-based software to associations and non-profits.  We're the company behind iMIS Cloud, the Engagement Management System (EMS)™ that empowers you to engage your members anytime, anywhere, from any device.  Since 1991 we've helped thousands of clients grow revenue, reduce expenses, and improve performance by providing best practices, pragmatic client advice, and proven solutions.  Learn more at www.advsol.com.

  • 08 Oct 2020 5:02 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    A recent report found that associations that are focused on innovation have had more success in growing membership and meeting other challenges in the current environment—and overall. Here are three key reasons why.


    In our current turbulent environment, innovation may be more critical than ever for associations to remain healthy and vibrant. The most recent edition of the Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report highlights the need to change and adapt. The report revealed a strong correlation between associations that had a growing membership and those that had established a defined plan for innovation. At the same time, associations that did not have a focused innovation effort were more likely to be experiencing a decline in their membership counts.

    If innovation drives growth, how does it happen? In his book, How Innovation Works, Matt Ridley presents the foundations for the innovation process. He maintains that “innovation is not an individual phenomenon, but a collective, incremental, and messy network.”

    Innovation requires effort and experimentation. Ridley cites the example of Thomas Edison. Many people had the idea for an electric light bulb, but Edison and his team were the ones who developed a commercially viable product. “He did so not by genius, but by experiment.” Edison’s team tested over 6,000 plants before he found the right option for the light bulb’s filament.

    Associations’ innovation process is not unlike Ridley’s description. The elements that associations say make up their innovation efforts include active collaboration, forgiving mistakes, and providing encouragement to their colleagues who are focused on improvement.  As one survey respondent commented, “Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. The only way of knowing if a tactic or strategy is going to work is by trying.”

     
    Engaging Members Digitally
    This year’s benchmarking research identified several areas where associations have been successful with innovation. One of the best examples shows up where member participation is increasing. Historically, the three legs of the stool where members tended to engage with an association were in book purchasing, buying insurance, and volunteering. Today these are some of the slowest growth or declining engagements for association members.
    Interestingly, the products and services where associations report seeing growth in engagement now did not even exist years ago: mobile apps, webinars, and public and private social networks.

    The products and services where associations report seeing growth in engagement now did not even exist years ago: mobile apps, webinars, and public and private social networks.

    Shifting Membership Models
    Adopting new membership models is also a key component of association innovation. In the past five years, 58 percent of associations have either adopted a new membership model or investigated making a change. The models most likely to be selected are a tiered membership or a combination membership structure. 
    The tiered structure changes the membership relationship from who you are—like a job title or company size—to what you get in your membership package. This model offers a variety of membership options like gold, silver, or bronze benefits. The combination membership model, primarily introduced by individual membership associations, adds an organizational membership option available to allow for an entire department or company to access membership.

    More Digital Marketing
    Associations are rapidly shifting how they communicate with members and prospects. Each year in the benchmarking research, there has been a significant increase in the reported use of paid digital marketing tools. The data shows that 46 percent of associations now use some form of paid digital advertising. Thirty-one percent use retargeting ads to continue to follow and display ads to visitors once they leave their website. Additionally, the use of texting, while still rare among associations, has more than quadrupled in use over the last year as a communication tool.
    Innovation is not only a requirement during challenging times. It is a constant need for associations. An article by Gary Hamel and Liisa Valikangas, The Quest for Resilience, makes the case to prioritize change. “It’s not about rebounding from a setback,” they write. “It’s about constantly anticipating and adjusting. . . . It’s about having the capacity to change before the case for change becomes obvious.”
    Associations that have built innovation into their culture are finding help in weathering today’s storms. New challenges and opportunities are constant, so it is never too late to start.

    October 6, 2020By: Tony Rossell

    Tony Rossell

    Tony Rossell is senior vice president of Marketing General Incorporated.

  • 07 Oct 2020 12:22 PM | Deleted user

    When everyone is affected by the same crisis, figuring out what you can do to help others is not always easy. Here are three ways one association, inspired by its members, helped them during a critical time.

    In response to a recent blog post on keeping members close in challenging times, I heard from Keith Chamberlain, director of membership and experience at the Healthcare Financial Management Association, with some ideas he has implemented for members during the pandemic.

    HFMA’s members are finance professionals in the healthcare field, and the association helps them navigate many challenges in the U.S. healthcare system. Knowing that its members had the backs of the clinicians they were working with during the pandemic, Chamberlain said, we asked, “What can we do to have their backs?”

    HFMA created these new programs for its members in response to the pandemic:

    Renew now, pay later. With the help of its IT team, HFMA created a “Renew Now, Pay Later” program for its largest group of members, who were lapsing on June 1. Members clicked a button stating their intent to renew and gave their credit card information, but HFMA didn’t charge it for 90 days, providing a grace period for payment.

    It was not difficult to set up, Chamberlain said—the IT team simply created a new 90-day subscription for that group of members. HFMA already had monthly billing installed, so they just leveraged the technology to use monthly dues payments in a similar way. Fewer than 100 people have taken advantage of the offer, but those who have are “delighted” with the option, he said.

    Sheri Jacobs, FASAE, CAE, CEO and president of Avenue M Group, said she has seen organizations extending their dues payments from 60 to 120 days. “It is my recommendation that associations do what they can to keep their members,” she said, “even if it means they will experience a loss in dues revenue.”

    Responsive resources. In January, HFMA launched a new version of its members-only online community forum. Like many other online communities, this one has specialty areas focused on topics like revenue cycles and legal and regulatory issues. When the pandemic hit, the association’s business partners asked what they could do to help members, so HFMA created a unique forum for them where they could share ideas, solutions, and resources. It gave business partners “a place to reach out to their customers and connect in a way that was authentic and provided supportive value,” Chamberlain said. “It remains one of our more active community forums.”

    Thirty-day free trial. In April, Chamberlain’s team unrolled a full-access 30-day free membership trial at a time when people in the healthcare space needed access to resources specific to their field. HFMA’s publishing team had ramped up content related to Medicaid reimbursement and other pressing healthcare topics, which new trial members could now access when they needed it most. That program brought them “hundreds and hundreds” of new members, Chamberlain said. Almost 60 percent of those new members have stayed on past their free trial.

    Many associations had been slow to change until the crisis hit, which Jacobs attributes to their tendency to evaluate the “risk of change without considering the greater risk of maintaining the status quo.” Cognitive bias causes people to resist change because, she said, “they focus on what they might lose rather than what can be gained.”

    HFMA’s experience is a good reminder to consider the second part of that equation.

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


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