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ASSOCIATION TRANSFORMATION

Membership do's and don'ts for 2021

During the last 12 months, if anything was disrupted it was membership. Renewals can't be taken for granted anymore, and associations need to take this more seriously, with an urgency in redefining the membership experience.

Kim Hall, the director of membership for the National Association of Counties, and David D'Souza, Director of membership with the Chartered Institute of personnel and development spoke to us in this podcast about the approaches their organisations are taking to ensure that lessons learnt during the pandemic are taken forward and help shape the future of membership bodies.

Kim pointed out that after you get over the shock that the world has changed so dramatically, it is a real eye opener to have to pivot to a virtual environment especially if your membership has always been extremely focused on live interactions, and conferences throughout the year. This transition can be even more challenging when you realise that your audience perhaps aren't always the most tech savvy.

There can also be a challenge when you realise that a large percentage of your membership doesn’t have access to reliable broadband - how do you redefine the relationship?

Organisations may have been running things in a similar way for 20 years and then world changes. If you and your members have been embedded in a way of thinking for so long, it can be a huge challenge. However, it's important for the organisation and the membership to embrace the opportunity to rethink and restructure.

Organisations need to make sure that membership recruitment and retention are not put on the back-burner – that they can't be forgotten about.  The last year has showed us that they cannot be taken for granted any longer. We need to continue to hold the industry accountable to membership best practices and prioritising the member experience.

Last year may be the beginning of this new membership reality, not only how we engage but how we quantify value, how we strive for relevance, we need to be forward thinking. 

Expectations of associations should be that we maintain high standards and not use the external economic environment as an excuse for these to decline. We make sure that we are doing absolutely everything that we can to keep on working the model and on the method in the right ways to keep things driving forward in future years.

All this change is coming off the back of such a huge amount of disruption but embracing the changes and continuing the improvements is of great value. The organisations that have survived and are striving forward are those who have handled this crisis in an efficient and effective way cutting away all that is unnecessary. This really is an opportunity for organizations to increase relevance when members need them most in areas they may not have previously been serving.  It's our job to make sure that we keep supporting people because, unless it's making a difference in the outside world - it's just noise.

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