Association Laboratory’s ground-breaking environmental scan Looking Forward 2018 (access HERE) revealed how many association executives believe their volunteer leaders are creating substantial governance challenges that threaten the long-term viability of their association. Historical Membership Models and Governance Systems are Failing In Looking Forward 2018, 86% of association executives believed that membership acquisition, retention and engagement was the most serious association strategy issue. Association Laboratory has worked with hundreds of associations on the research and development of membership strategy and four aspects of strategy development are clear. The association must understand its markets and how these markets are changing. The association must accept that as audiences change, their needs change. New or emerging markets with different needs will require a different relationship with the association. An evolving relationship means that new models of engagement or membership must constantly be adapted or introduced. If the association doesn’t evolve, member engagement is
Why are so many chief staff officers so afraid of their Board of Directors? Because their Boards are difficult to work with and the decisions they make are so bad. Recent research and conversations with CEO friends in association management highlight the astonishing amount of time and energy devoted to convincing, navigating or just plain avoiding bad Board members. We Spend Too Much Time on Governance to Have Bad Boards Much of modern day association executive leadership is focused on preparing and using volunteer leaders to inform decisions. Recent data from Looking Forward 2018, Association Laboratory’s global environmental scan of the association environment, indicated that 69% of chief staff officers identified governance and volunteer management as one of their primary responsibilities. With so much time spent on governance and, specifically, the Board of Directors, why don’t our volunteer leaders do a better job?  At what point is a bad
Successful association membership is not always about the Big Reveal. One of the most common  expectations of a strategy firm like Association Laboratory, is The Big Membership Idea, The Silver Bullet. The new thing that will completely turn things around. The innovation that nobody else has ever thought of before. Current TV shows constantly show us the Big Reveal. This trains our members, volunteers and staff to think that the famed silver bullet exists. Associations Waste Time and Money by Focusing Exclusively on the Big Picture Unfortunately, for most associations, these types of ideas are not only rare but, often, counterproductive. I say counterproductive because while we search far and wide for the magical elixir that will save our associations, the real answer is much closer at hand. The great quest blinds us  to simpler, easier and more effective strategies that are well within our means to implement. Consider
Do you ever get the feeling that you’re doing the same thing every year – and the same things as everyone else – but for no better results? This, I think, summarizes all our conversations on engagement. Over the last several years, one of the most common themes has been the concept of membership or stakeholder engagement. How can we establish it? How can we expand it? How can we make it a more ongoing, or annualized relationship? The missing link in our conversations is annualized engagement. Annualized engagement is defined as the interaction between you and your members throughout the year, on an annual basis. How often do they engage with your association, in what manner and how consistently over time? Critical to annualized engagement is the existence of opportunities or channels for annualized engagement. Successful annualized engagement is more likely if there are more, not less, opportunities