I’ve recently seen an interesting trend developing, and it’s the growing interest of volunteer leaders in association business. Over the last several months, I’ve given presentations to various boards of directors about membership growth strategies, sponsorship opportunities, and revenue diversification – the business of associations
We expect these leaders to be strategic and map a path for us and often we are of critical of their ability to do so. To be successful, we must ensure sure we give them proper context around our organizations.
During my presentations to these groups, some of the most thought-provoking and engaging exchanges are the questions these volunteer leaders put forth:
- What is the percentage of dues other associations receive in terms of their business model?
- How many associations are adopting new sponsorship programs?
- When thought leadership sponsorships are sold, do people feel like they are being pitched to by a vendor?
We must better educate members of our boards and committees on the association trends, best practices, where innovation is occurring, comparisons to other organizations, and the business of running associations. This context will make them stronger and better-informed volunteer leaders for you. And, association CEOs must lead the effort.
What’s surprising to me is when I meet these folks, from trade associations, in particular; they are business people. So, when you talk to them about association business – you have their attention, and that is pretty cool.