Last year, we all made moves to find ways to keep engagement high with our associations’ members. We tried new things, spent countless hours improving our technologies and online opportunities, demonstrating the benefits of membership to improve recruitment and retention. We all worked tirelessly to answer the question: “How do we highlight the value of association membership during a time of budget cuts and job losses?”
Now, it’s time to answer a different question: “With so much still uncertain as we try to move forward from the pandemic, how do we move forward with strategic planning for our organizations?”
The answer is simple. Keep experimenting. Figure out what works best for your association and your members, and that will likely change as their lives continue to change. For example, most organizations have some level of plan in place for working post-pandemic, whether that means a full return to the office, a fully remote staff, or a hybrid model. And many associations understand that flexibility remains important.
Experiment. Rinse. Repeat.
Many associations had to completely change their structures over the past year and find success online. There are a lot of good lessons that came out of this time, and a lot of great connections. For many associations, the past year and a half has been an incredible opportunity to reach new audiences. Going virtual meant more cost-effective ways to engage for some, and it meant that organizations were able to reach people they never could before.
How can you continue to engage members going forward? I anticipate that many associations will find a hybrid between meeting in-person and meeting virtually. This may even help with association succession planning by offering multiple ways to connect and participate in association events. Not every member wants to receive information the same way, and this pandemic has taught us all that there are different ways of doing what we have always done.
Another great reason to experiment now is that your members are more understanding right now because they aren’t certain what to expect either! With everyone in the same situation, there will be a lot more understanding – and forgiveness – if you try something that doesn’t go perfectly; so if one idea falls flat, try a new one!
While your members are figuring out their new, new normal, it’s time for associations to do the same. Keep experimenting!