Sector and AuSAE News

  • 25 Jun 2021 5:33 AM | Brett Jeffery, CAE (Administrator)

    In Summary

    • Assessing what you need from a CRM starts with taking a good look at where you’re already at in terms of digital transformation readiness.
    • The next step is to be very clear about your goals and where you want to be, being both aspirational and realistic about what is possible.
    • Finally, you will need to list out your requirements regarding functionality and technology to support your goals.


    Choice paralysis. In a marketplace flooded with solutions and a rapidly changing digital environment – how do you even start to choose a CRM? It needs to be the right fit. It needs to be able to grow and change as your Association does. These are givens. But they are not enough to get you started on the evaluation and decision-making process. In this second article in our CRMs for Associations Super Blog Series, we drill down into a four-step process that will help you know exactly what you need from a CRM.

    Step 1. Assessment – Where are you?

    You want to get a realistic sense of the digital maturity of your Association across a number of different areas. A good way to do this is to give each area a ‘grade’ of: early, developing or mature. As a starting point, we recommend the following assessment areas:

    • Strategy
    • Leadership
    • Workforce development
    • User focus and culture

    Of course, you can expand on that list, change it, add to it – the crucial thing is that it makes sense to you and the people in your Association. Equally, you can amend the ‘grading’ system to words or levels if that makes more sense to you. And you should extrapolate a little with each point so you get a clear picture. The aim of the exercise is to assess where you are up to in terms of digital transformation readiness. For example, we have created an assessment here of a fictional Association – based on our years of experience working with associations:

    Step 2. Aspirations – Where do you want to go?

    There are two parts to this step – external and internal. Externally, it’s good to take some time and look around you. What are your closest competitors doing? How far advanced is their digital transformation? Beyond that, what about aspirational Associations? The ones you look to for inspiration or motivation whether because of their size, scale or sophistication. Where do you want to be in relation to them? Then, turn your attention inward. Revisit your assessment matrix and create an aspirational one for the next 6-12 months. It’s important to be realistic here in terms of what you can achieve. Don’t set yourself up for failure by saying you want to be ‘mature’ across every criterion within a short timeframe.
    To continue our example from above:

    You may also want some high level goals such as ensuring your work culture is open to more change and innovation in how you engage with technology. A key thing at this stage is to make sure you have this conversation at the management and board level. The more people in key roles who are invested in digital transformation, the more chance you have of effective implementation (see the fourth in our CRMs for Associations Super Blog Series for more on this).

    Step 3. Functions and Features – What do I need to get there?

    It’s time to get down to the brass tacks. This step is all about generating lists and being specific about the functions and features you need so you can answer this question: What specifically does your Association want to be able to achieve? Be expansive in how you generate this functional ‘wish’ list. It should not just come from one person’s thinking. Ways to generate the list can include:

    • develop use cases
    • use focus groups
    • hold brainstorming sessions
    • record observations about current issues
    • conduct staff interviews
    • conduct an interface analysis
    • use prototyping

    Following on from our fictional Association example, we have generated two lists of functional requirements:
    Web portal

    • member directory
    • member self service
    • event and course registration
    • product purchase
    • subscription and communication preferences
    • delivered to web and mobile

    Core internal business system

    • web portal well connected to internal system
    • management dashboard and reporting
    • 360 view of stakeholder management and member management
    • has ability to deliver EDMs
    • marketing automation
    • manage events and conferences
    • continuous professional development
    • financial integration

    You may have internal teams who can build up your list requirements or you may want to engage a business analyst. The Associations Forum can be a good place to start if you’re looking for external assistance here. Or you can get in touch and we can assist you. In summary, the main thing we always hear – over and over – is that the number one priority for Associations is: EASE OF USE. That applies to both public / membership and internal stakeholders.

    Step 4. Technology – What tools will best support you?

    You might notice that we haven’t focused up front on technology when it comes to your assessment process. The temptation can be to talk about hot trends like AI and chat bots. But this is the wrong way to look at things. You need to start with a holistic approach, based on what your organisation needs and find the technology to support that. Developing your technology requirements is another list-generation process. Again, this may be something you can do internally or you may benefit from some external guidance.

    Here is the basic list of technology requirements for our case study Association:

    • Easy to learn
    • Good user interface
    • Well documented product – training resources and videos online
    • Product is easy to change – we want a strong core product but we have specific requirements, and these may change over time so we want it to be able to evolve as we evolve – this is called extensibility
    • Integration – we want all systems within the infrastructure to be able to communicate with each other – this is called interoperability

    Finally, some broad level questions will help prompt your list generation process in regard to technology requirements:

    (i) Where will data be stored and will it be safe? Data security and compliance are increasingly important, so you need appropriate controls in that space. There are many options including:

    • on premise (on own infrastructure)
    • hosted in the cloud
    • SaaS (Software as a Service)
    • PaaS (Platform as a Service)
    • IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)

    You may have specific requirements around where you want the data to reside and need a product and partner who can support this.

    (ii) Do you want the platform to be cloud first? Mobile first? How digital, how mobile do you want it to be? Build your own requirements set and don’t be afraid to be really specific about your technology needs.

    Our next article in this series is all about finding the right vendor or partner for your CRM project.

    Original blog posted at cams 

  • 24 Jun 2021 2:11 PM | Sarah Gamble (Administrator)

    National membership association Governance Institute of Australia is delighted to welcome two new board members: Caron Sugars and Greg Hanigan.

    Caron is a Governance, Risk and Controls Advisory Partner at KPMG and has been involved with Governance Institute since 2007 when she was a course director.

    She participated in the Subject Advisory Council and Governance Institute’s Western Australia Council. She has also regularly presented at Governance Institute short courses and certificates.

    “I have seen so many careers and lives expand because of people joining the Governance Institute family,” Ms Sugars said.

    “I’m delighted - and flattered - to have been chosen to join the Board where I can contribute to the growth of this amazing organisation.”

    Greg Hanigan is a Risk Partner at IOOF and has been a Governance Institute Tasmanian Council member since 2016.

    “This is an exciting time to be joining the Board as Governance Institute looks to deliver many new improvements for our members to assist them to promote good governance in their organisations,” Mr Hanigan said.

    “The Governance Institute member community provides a trusted network for governance professionals to access useful training, practical tools and insights. I look forward to working with the Board in their pursuit of providing valued services to our members.”

    Governance Institute CEO Megan Motto welcomed Caron and Greg, saying she is looking forward to working with them during an important time for Governance Institute.

    “We are delighted that Caron and Greg have joined Governance Institute’s Board and know they will play an integral role in helping set – and oversee - the future strategic direction for the organisation,” Ms Motto said.

    “The role of the Board is particularly crucial in these current times with the governance and risk management profession in the spotlight like never before. It is therefore so important to have experts such as Caron and Greg on the Board.”

    Media contact: Hannah Edwards 0403 024 149

  • 18 Jun 2021 8:07 AM | Brett Jeffery, CAE (Administrator)

    Welcome packets and emails can offer a good starting point for new members, but that may not be enough to keep them around. Here are some tips to help supercharge your member onboarding process.

    When someone joins an association, they’re often looking for a path forward as a new member—a little help to find their way, a compass that they can follow.

    Associations can offer that help—or they can be a little more passive and do something minimal.

    But doing the minimum at the beginning might just cost them the chance of keeping that member around. A 2018 report from Dynamic Benchmarking and Kaiser Insights [PDF] found that associations that implemented an effective onboarding strategy were able to increase their member retention from 62 percent to 68 percent.
    Plus, there are other benefits that come from stronger onboarding, including more usable feedback, more detailed information about members, cleaner member databases, and easier identification of potential volunteers.
    “Immediate value received upon joining prompted a high level of life-long engagement,” the report stated.

    In other words, a little TLC goes a long way. So what does that engagement look like? A few ideas for effective member onboarding upgrades:

    1. Personalise early. Often, the first way that members interact with your organization is through some sort of welcome message. Problem is, personalization is desired but not always offered in member communications, according to research from Community Brands—just 18 percent of associations offer it. Welcome emails can be a great area for personalization, as it can help members feel heard. The hard part, as noted by YourMembership, is getting the next set of data to allow for further steps into personalization. A measured approach can help. “If you need new members to complete an online member community profile or set up their communications preferences, send them a specific email communication about that action,” the firm’s Michelle Schweitz explains.

    2. Instead of an onboarding packet, consider drip marketing. Member welcome packets can be done well—Personify’s Wild Apricot has plenty of ideas on where to get started. But an email drip campaign can supply that information in a more careful manner over a longer period. Chamber of commerce expert Frank J. Kenny suggests that drip campaigns can replace onboarding packets entirely. “This way they get bite-size tips they can read quickly and start using immediately,” he writes.

    3. Lean on your chapters—but not too hard. Chapters can be effective in building a new member base, as they can put a friendly face within proximity of a member and give a local spin to a national or global association. However, Billhighway’s Charlotte Muylaert warns that putting too much pressure on local chapters does not a good chapter strategy make. “You have membership expertise, but they know the day-in/day-out challenges of running a chapter,” she writes. “Instead, collaborate with components on your new member onboarding plan so it’s both practical and sustainable.”

    4. Integrate your social strategy. It’s important when building your onboarding strategy to stretch beyond the inbox, as fundamental as it is. Sharing welcome messages for new members on social media is one thing—introducing them to a broader conversation is another entirely. Lia Zegeye, senior director of membership at the American Bus Association, told Associations Now last fall that she hosts onboarding webinars. During that effort, she highlights the organization’s social media platforms and encourages new members to engage—which has been particularly successful at driving members to the association’s Facebook presence.

    5. Don’t drop off too quickly with your messaging. As MemberNova noted in a 2019 study, 95 percent of organizations send a welcome email, but just 8 percent continued to send messages beyond the second week—and 2 percent beyond the first month. In an article discussing the survey, author Divya Tandan notes that cutting off the messaging too soon could strand new members during an important time. “The first 90 days are the most crucial for a new member, because it’s during this month and a half that they are evaluating you, assessing the value membership to the association offers them and trying to familiarize themselves with all the resources made available to them,” she writes.

    6. Offer special notice at events. It’s not just about driving messaging to the newbies, but giving special notice. As MemberSuite explains, it can help to direct some of that new member onboarding energy to first-time attendees as well—perhaps by creating dedicated first-time event pages, tip sheets, and signifiers that show others that this is an attendee’s first time at an event. “These first-time attendees aren’t likely to come back next time unless you make them feel welcome and help them get the most out of their event experience,” the firm’s Val Brotherton writes.


    Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun

    originally published associations now

  • 18 Jun 2021 8:01 AM | Brett Jeffery, CAE (Administrator)

    In the past year, associations have faced an enormous shift in how they communicate with their constituents. A newly developed toolkit, based on the drivers of change identified in ASAE’s ForesightWorks research, can help association communicators rise to the challenges of these times.

    The 50 drivers of change identified as part of ASAE’s ForesightWorks research have been an important element for association communicators since they were originally published in 2017. Last year, ASAE’s Communication Professionals Advisory Council took a more strategic look at the challenges the drivers identified, using the lens of skill sets that association communicators need to address them. The result is the Competencies for Association Communication Professionals toolkit [ASAE member login required], a resource that provides best-practice strategies for communication professionals to use when developing new initiatives.

    For this initial version, four drivers are filtered through the communication lens:

    • shifting environment for content
    • declining trust
    • diversity, equity, and inclusion
    • next-gen professionals

    The first driver—shifting environment for content—provides foundational competencies that address the expectations of personalization, developing effective content strategies when departmental priorities are siloed, and differentiating content for different audiences. Communications must be proactive to meet organizational goals, and therefore it is vital that communication professionals are able to serve internally as the translators, collaborators, and facilitators between departments, as well as within the C-suite. Understanding individual needs, while also considering the 10,000-foot view, can be the difference between a successful campaign and one that falls short of its goals. In addition, it is becoming increasingly important to create emotional connections with different audiences. Collecting and analyzing stakeholder and other research data, as well as participating in the content lifecycle(strategy, design, create, maintain, and assess), is key to gaining an understanding of audiences' values and motivations.

    Meanwhile, declining trust, already a growing concern, has quickly risen to a crisis situation in some circumstances as confirmation bias, misinformation, and targeted algorithms have eroded trust in expertise. Communication professionals must take the lead in both risk management and in building credibility with consistent, transparent dissemination of credible facts.

    In addition, a growing awareness of unconscious bias has forced long overdue reexaminations of how organizations serve their constituents. Diversity, equity, and inclusion has been a powerful driver in prompting associations to question whether they are being inclusive enough so that all members truly feel like they belong. Communications play a critical role in fostering conversations, applying empathy, and leveraging relevant spokespersons to more clearly represent an organization’s values and mission. In addition, communications also must play a role in giving a voice to members to create more opportunities for belonging.

    Empathy, values, and feelings of belonging are also important to the constituents of the next-gen professionals driver. Here, too, it is important for associations to engage its future generation of members. Communications professionals can identify relevant channels to develop emerging leaders, as well as help resonate a better understanding of organizational culture and expectations to foster more passionate participation.

    In addition to these four drivers, the council identified several general leadership competencies to help achieve buy-in at the C-suite level, including the need to acquire a broader point of view with implementing organizational goals. Whether it is formally defined on the organizational chart or not, every aspect of an association’s structure has a communication component. As a result, communication professionals are more likely to be involved in cross-departmental collaboration. Communicators must have highly developed situational awareness of diverse perspectives of staff, departments, and even members. Employing a holistic strategic approach to messaging is an effective way to engage leadership support and to ensure all contributions feel a sense of ownership of programming initiatives.

    June 14, 2021By: Blake Stenning and Dina M. Lewis, CAE

    Originally published ASAE

  • 18 Jun 2021 7:57 AM | Brett Jeffery, CAE (Administrator)

    Navigating a board member’s conflict of interest is sensitive business. CEOs, partnering with their general counsels, can take steps to address the situation in a way that preserves the association’s interests and member relationships.

    Most association CEOs and general counsel are well aware of the importance of directors fully understanding and exercising their fiduciary duties to the association, including the duty to avoid conflicts of interest. Yet, especially among associations with directors who represent corporate members, conflicts can arise in complex areas, putting the association in difficult and potentially dangerous positions.  

    Consider this real-life scenario. It involves an industry association with a board primarily comprising individuals nominated by organizational members paying above a certain dues level. The association had a formally established policy position that was well known, was approved by the board, and represented one of its primary policy aims. One board member, based on her employer’s competitive interests, consistently undermined the organization’s position by lobbying against it publicly and assisting her employer in policy-based litigation where her employer opposed the association.

    Although a mandate that an association’s directors not act against its established policy positions may seem to invoke an antitrust issue, this is generally not the case. If the association is a voluntary membership organization and if the director and her member company can thrive in the marketplace without association membership, antitrust concerns are rare. When a director acts against a formally established position of the organization, that conduct represents just cause for removal or other disciplinary action against the director, based on a violation of their duty of care (requiring that decisions be made in good faith as a fiduciary of the association from an ethical and legal standpoint) and potentially their duty of loyalty (in placing economic gain from an employer above the association’s interests).

    Three Options
    When confronted with a director who has acted against the association’s interests, the organization’s leaders typically have three options to remedy the situation.

    Removal. Although the CEO or general counsel in the situation described above might understandably be eager to vote to remove the troublesome director or expel her member company from the association, there are good reasons to explore other options first. Associations are in the business of recruiting, not losing, members, especially those who play a significant role in the industry. Expulsion remains a legal backstop, but it should be seriously considered only when all other options have been exhausted.

    Replacement. Another option is to replace the board member. The CEO can request that the member company’s leadership appoint a different representative, explaining to both the director and her superiors that her actions on the policy issue are contrary to the association’s mission. However, this option fails when the member company insists that its representative be free to act against the association’s position, both in her votes as a board member and in her external conduct. At this point, a review of the written conflict-of-interest policy may be helpful, although likely not for the most recalcitrant of members.

    Recusal. A third alternative is recusal on issues related to the policy position in question. This allows the association to effectively cordon off the source of the conflict, while still allowing the director to retain her role. This may keep the member company from leaving the association, prevent the director from serving on any committees related to the sensitive policy issue, and give the board chair the power to remove the director from any board discussion of the issue.

    An option of recusal allows the association to effectively cordon off the source of the conflict, while still allowing the director to retain her role.

    In the real-life case, the third alternative worked. It allowed the director to remain on the board and carry out directives from her employer, while keeping a longtime association member in the fold and preventing the issue from escaping into the media. In accordance with the bylaws, the full board voted to approve the specific parameters of the voluntary recusal. (Had the director not agreed to the recusal, a forced-recusal vote by the board would likely have led to the member company’s withdrawal from the association—an outcome still preferable to expulsion.) When the policy position eventually became moot for the association, the recusal was lifted.

    Director Education
    Directors who serve on association boards as representatives of member organizations often face a difficult balance:  Although accustomed to representing their employer’s interests, they must check them at the boardroom door and act instead in the best interests of the association. Recognizing this reality, associations need to take proactive steps to prevent conflict-of-interest situations from arising in the first place.

    Board education is critical. An association’s general counsel should repeatedly instruct the board on fiduciary duties and conflict issues while also preparing and implementing appropriate conflict-of-interest policies. Board-member onboarding should include a thorough one-on-one discussion reviewing the association’s bylaws, its conflict-of-interest policy, and board member fiduciary duties. New directors in particular should be educated that conflict avoidance, and proper disclosure of conflicts when they do arise, are not only matters of association policy but also are among a director’s legal duties.

    Every regular board meeting should include a brief review of director duties, using relevant real-life examples to the extent possible. Another best practice is an annual disclosure of potential conflicts using association-approved forms. Completed forms should be reviewed by the general counsel, and potential conflicts should be raised for discussion and action by the full board.

    Conflict-of-interest situations may implicate fiduciary duties, association policies, membership considerations, and even antitrust concerns. When facing a real-time crisis, it is important for the CEO and general counsel to understand the motivations of the directors involved and find a creative solution that preserves the association’s fiscal health and diversity of leadership, while making clear that a harmful conflict-of-interest cannot be tolerated.

    Thomas P. Kimbis

    Thomas P. Kimbis is an attorney and the executive director and CEO of the National Postdoctoral Association in Rockville, Maryland.

    Originally published ASAE

  • 18 Jun 2021 7:52 AM | Brett Jeffery, CAE (Administrator)

    Your ability to effectively communicate with your employees is key to success as a leader. But to motivate and inspire people with words takes a very human approach in the way you speak to them. 

    For example, do you compliment your workers for doing good work -- for going above and beyond? If so, how often? Do you acknowledge and celebrate your team's efforts? 

    We spend the majority of our time at work, but most of the time we treat each other like strangers. Taking into account all the conversations and digital text-based exchanges we have in the course of a workday, there are certain undeniable phrases that, if we use them more often with team members, will result in an increase in trust and loyalty.

    Here are five examples of what great leaders will genuinely express verbally to engage the hearts and minds of people.

    1. "We couldn't have pulled off this project without your help."
    Consider this a great way of expressing gratitude and saying thank you to someone for going above and beyond, especially if it made you look good in your leadership role. Saying it publicly in front of the whole team is especially gratifying and puts your employee on the pedestal that he or she deserves.

    2. "I could use your advice on what to do in this situation."
    There's this false notion that leaders who ask for advice are perceived as less competent. On the contrary, research has linked people who ask for advice to being perceived as more competent.
    The reason this works is that the most effective leaders are emotionally present and ask for help when it's needed. In turn, they create space for authenticity and truth so that others are free to do the same. By being real and emotionally honest, and giving team members permission to be the same, teams connect and collaborate better.
    So, as a leader, checking your ego at the door and asking a knowledge worker for input into a strategy will only increase that person's level of work engagement.

    3. "What can I do to help?"
    This phrase has been especially welcome during incredibly stressful times brought on by the pandemic. It is also useful for team members posed with a deadline or any challenging scenario. Offering to help demonstrates that you genuinely have the backs of fellow employees.

    4. "That was clearly my mistake."
    Effective leaders aren't hiding behind their own hubris or status and deflecting responsibility to someone else. They show up with humility to acknowledge and own up to their mistakes. This sets the example for their tribe to be honest and not fear making their own mistakes. 
    Admitting to being human and making mistakes has also been found to actually increase trust. Paul Zak, author of Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High Performance Companies, says, "People who are imperfect are more attractive to us. We like them more than people who seem too perfect."

    5. "I don't know."
    Quite honestly, it's uncomfortable admitting you don't know something, especially in a leadership role when people expect you to have all the answers. Now imagine putting yourself in the position of getting comfortable with not knowing. Rare, indeed. Unless you're Garry Ridge, chairman and CEO of the WD-40 Company.
    Ridge says "I don't know" are the three most powerful words he's ever learned in his life. "I've been really happy being the dumb guy. And then most of the time I am; I often say I'm consciously incompetent. And I think that does help people feel comfortable," Ridge shared on the Small-Cap Institute Presents podcast.
    Ridge says when he got comfortable with not knowing, he began to learn and grow -- a lot. "As soon as you make out you know everything, you shut down all the opportunity to learn more and get different points of view," says Ridge. "So not only do I get comfortable with I don't know, but even more today, I keep asking myself, 'Why do I believe that?' Because the world's changing so quickly."

    This article was originally posted on INC

  • 18 Jun 2021 7:29 AM | Brett Jeffery, CAE (Administrator)

    Not every attempt at digital transformation has to be massive or earth-shaking. A smaller, more methodical approach can work as well. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

    The words digital transformation strike fear in the heart of some leaders, in part because it sounds like a heavy lift.

    But the truth is that you don’t have to transform everything all in one bite. By working more slowly and efficiently and narrowing your digital transformation goals to focus on smaller pieces of a larger whole, not only do you stress-test your organization’s ability to handle change, you also lay the groundwork for a bigger change later on.

    A few examples of smaller-scale digital transformation in action:

    Modernizing something you’re already doing. 

    Before the podcasting boom, the National Speakers Association would send copies of its audio productions to its members on a CD attached to its magazine. But when NSA tried to move this format to a podcast, the approach didn’t fit the needs of the audience. So, as a part of a broader reinvention of its membership model, the organization hit the reset button, creating Speakernomics, a podcast that offers listeners short, insightful advice on becoming more successful professional speakers. The organization’s CEO, Mary Lue Peck, says that the group emphasized creating unique value in a short amount of time—each episode is around 25 minutes—and found an effective host, Thom Singer, to present the new offering. “Launching a new podcast allowed us to rebuild our audio program from the ground up,” Peck says. “We were able to set new goals for our show and develop a new workflow for each episode to ensure each episode is laser-focused on our core purpose of helping listeners become better speakers and build better businesses.”

    Promoting cross-department collaboration. 

    It can be harsh to change everything all at once when trying to tackle a digital transformation culturally, but a great place to start that conversation involves getting people who might have traditionally been siloed to talk to one another. During the 2020 ASAE TEC Virtual Conference, presenter Kevin Hastings, a manager for web strategy at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, explained how the pandemic shifted the organization’s strategy for working across departments. “One thing that’s been really great and eye-opening is that you have these conversations about all of these fragmented systems, and all of these capabilities that one department is working on,” he explained during the event. “And you have these lightbulb moments where someone in another department says, ‘Wow, I had no idea that we’re putting together a comprehensive system for taxonomy.’ That’s really great.”

    Presenting a seamless image of integration to members. 

    A key to strong digital transformation is to send a message that everything works efficiently as one piece. Problem is, it’s common to have many accounts across an organization—and it can be a major pain point if your organization’s WordPress site doesn’t talk to your association management system (AMS), requiring the use of separate logins. But building an integration between your platforms via the login page can help make the different platforms work more seamlessly together. Joe Aldeguer, the director of IT for the Society of American Florists, says that he worked with his AMS vendor to integrate single sign-on (SSO) functionality into his organization’s different platforms using an application programming interface (API). “Our members can navigate from all platforms—AMS, CMS, and LMS—using one login,” Aldeguer says. “Many of our members are not tech-savvy, so I wanted to make sure technology does not get in the way whenever they want to use our member resources.”


    Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun.

    Originally published by associations now

  • 11 Jun 2021 6:05 AM | Brett Jeffery, CAE (Administrator)

    After a year of disruptions, seeing a gradual return to normal offers a welcome sense of relief. But it does pose a question: How can associations create more value for members during this period of transition and beyond?

    The challenges of the past year have given us all new perspectives. We’re much more aware of the importance of staying connected, whether it’s via now-routine online meetings or in person. And the need to prepare professionally for whatever the future might bring is more apparent than ever.

    To provide greater value for members, associations have an opportunity to recognize and respond to shifts in expectations and viewpoints. Some specific examples include:

    • Hosting hybrid events and meetings. Even as in-person events return, the convenience of attending events and meetings online is something people will continue to want. Associations that offer hybrid events with in-person and online attendance options will accommodate members’ specific budgets, schedules and health concerns.
    • Investing in training and certification programs. Training and certification rank consistently among the most important benefits to members. Now is a good time for associations to review their programs and find ways to offer training and certification opportunities beyond an annual event. For example, offering year-round learning opportunities, such as in-person, live-streamed, and on-demand educational sessions can accommodate members’ schedules, learning preferences, and educational and certification needs as they return to office environments.
    • Expanding career advancement resources. While many associations already connect members with job opportunities through online job boards, there’s an opportunity to provide even more value in this area. Providing career advancement resources, such as interview and resume writing tips, salary data, and outlooks for job growth can deliver greater value for members—especially as they make career decisions in a fluctuating economy.
    • Making ongoing networking easier. As associations begin to plan in-person networking events again, they also have the opportunity to capitalize on members’ new comfort levels with online interactions. For example, offering an online member community can provide networking benefits between in-person events.

    As we step back into a familiar world, our industry has an opportunity to do more than just return to normal. By embracing the new perspectives we’ve all gained over the last year, associations can provide members greater value than ever before.

    Community Brands is a purpose-driven company that delivers purpose-built solutions for nearly 120,000 leading associations, nonprofits, K-12 private schools and faith-based organizations worldwide to thrive and succeed in today’s fast-paced, evolving world. Our focus on accelerating innovation, fulfilling unmet needs and bringing to market modern technology solutions and engagement platforms helps power social impact, affect positive change and create opportunity. With Community Brands solutions and services, purpose-driven organizations better engage their members, donors, educators and volunteers; raise more money; effectively manage revenue; and provide professional development and insights to power their missions.

  • 11 Jun 2021 5:55 AM | Brett Jeffery, CAE (Administrator)

    A surge of free offerings for members and nonmembers during the pandemic led to increased engagement and stronger advocacy efforts. Find out how to keep leveraging those offers to enhance value and build relationships.

    When the pandemic hit, many associations responded to member needs immediately with free resources to help them navigate the crisis. Now that we have emerged (mostly) from crisis mode, does it still make sense to offer free resources to members and nonmembers? The answer is yes—with caveats.

    Being strategic and selective about what to offer and how to get a return on what you are offering are key, said Elisa Joseph Anders, senior account director at Marketing General Incorporated, who co-presented “Creating Member Value: Give a Little to Get a Lot” at ASAE’s Marketing, Membership, and Communications Conference (MMCC) last week.

    “By giving some things away for free and marketing them properly, your association can not only deliver value for others but also create value for the association, which ultimately helps you deliver on your mission,” Anders said.

    The idea is to give away resources or other items that demonstrate value and deliver value to the people who need them. An association’s products, programs, services, and membership have value. However, you don’t want to diminish that value by giving too much away. Instead, be selective and give a sample, because offering too much for free is not a good strategy for growth and revenue.

    How do you determine whether to offer benefits for free?
    Start by assessing your market and its needs. For example, if many of your members have lost jobs or had to close businesses, they might need free career resources or professional development courses to help them get back on track. You might already have a good gauge of member needs but conducting research to better understand what members want is also a good plan. It can be as quick and simple as low-cost pulse surveys, Anders said.

    During the pandemic, many associations extended membership grace periods

    , which members appreciated. So, it could be a good idea to offer a free trial or introductory membership, or a “freemium” membership where you offer a free quality product that people want. In those cases, you would need to work on converting members to a higher level of membership, which takes a sustained marketing effort with a budget to support it, Anders said. She also cautioned that a relatively low percentage of those members will convert to paid memberships, so it’s important to make sure the economics work before offering that kind of option.

    Another key tip is to trade content for contact.

    When you offer a free webinar or a downloadable research report, make sure to ask for the person’s contact information. Getting their opt-in helps start a two-way conversation that leads to an ongoing relationship

    . Then you can give them more free information like newsletters, legislative updates, professional development resources, or other communications that showcase your value. The goal is to cultivate them and get them to engage further with the association.

    “The more people see your value and engage with your association, the more likely they are to join, register, buy, and renew,” Anders said.


    Lisa Boylan is a senior editor of Associations Now.

    Originally published at associations now

  • 11 Jun 2021 5:52 AM | Brett Jeffery, CAE (Administrator)

    Asking members surprisingly simple questions can help start conversations that build much more meaningful engagement, rather than bombarding them with an avalanche of information in the hopes of finding something that sticks.

    Conversational engagement creates a two-way exchange that helps organizations get away from a broadcast-only mentality of jamming a lot of content in emails and talking at people. That kind of communication might lead to a few click-throughs, but that’s it, according to Dave Will, cofounder and CEO of software platform PropFuel.
    A deeper, more focused conversation begins with easy questions that yield better and more personalized outcomes, he said during an express talk at ASAE’s Marketing, Membership, and Communications Conference last week.

    Conversational engagement is a process that allows the membership team to listen and respond to members so they can better target individual member needs. “The process is: ask, capture, act,” Will said. “We ask a question and capture some input, which allows us to then take much more relevant action.” It not about talking to segments or personas: “We’re talking to a market of one,” he said.

    One way it is effective is for reaching out to “never members” who have interacted with the association in the past but have never become members, said Diane Scheuring, CAE, co-presenter and vice president of membership and marketing at the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association.

    “This is our opportunity to really reach out to them to start that conversation,” she said. “It’s all about engagement and being present at the member’s point of need.”

    Scheuring’s team uses this prompt: “HPNA members are part of a larger mission dedicated to advancing expert care in serious illness,” which draws prospective members into HPNA’s mission. Then they pose a question: “Would you like to join us as part of this mission?” That approach makes it less transactional and more centered on asking if they would like to be a part of something larger.

    Starting a conversation by emphasizing the organization’s mission demonstrates that joining is about more than just benefits or discounts. It’s about who you are as a person and whether you are interested in getting “emotionally connected to your industry,” Scheuring said.  By phrasing the conversational exchange that way, she said, “You’re planting the seed that by joining this association, you’re joining something bigger than a discount.”


    Lisa Boylan is a senior editor of Associations Now.

    Originally published at associations now

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