Are associations losing members?

The pandemic has made it necessary for associations to adopt bold changes in order to remain relevant.

Associations are urged to adopt bold changes in order to attract new-generation members and to remain relevant.
Associations are urged to adopt bold changes in order to attract new-generation members and to remain relevant. Photo Credit: gettyimages/designer491

Is the membership model of associations in question? How does education keep its value as a core proposition when professional development sources are so varied and readily available? How can members continue to be actively engaged?

As association leaders look at navigating the post-pandemic landscape, myriad questions and shifts in approaches are being pondered and considered. One of the most pressing action items is to resume the engagement activities that have been affected by the pandemic. 

To increase the likelihood of membership renewals, now is the time to sync up and align with members’ consumption behaviours and preferences. Harnessing the right data with the right digital strategy will go a long way in growing and connecting with members.

According to experts from MCI Group, it is particularly crucial for small-sized associations to create a user-centric digital experience that adds value to the community. Innovation and investment must be prioritised to ensure the association’s offerings and relevancy in the new landscape, especially in engaging new-generation members.

MCI Singapore’s Marcel Ewals, director of association management and consulting for APAC says that adding virtual meetings to in-person events “offers more opportunities for international growth”. It creates a “volume business” for associations with no audience limitations, and creates more effective reach beyond the converted audience. 

For associations such as IACC, transforming itself amidst a declining situation involved a structural and business model change to a global board that was equally represented; a review of its governance structure; and an ambassador programme to identify vocal members and industry leaders to be key influencers.

World PCO Alliance recommends that associations invest in digital educational platforms to create an online community with e-learning opportunities in addition to in-person engagement. One of the urgent challenges identified is in attracting the younger demographic members, which are a necessary voice to be heard. A multi-generational strategy will ensure engagement and continuity into the future.

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