How Associations Should Embrace Change During

How Associations Should Embrace Change During Rapidly Evolving Times

Some associations have been around since the 19th century. Take the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association, for instance. It was founded in 1883 and is still standing to this day.

The Custom Tailors and Designers Association is also a prime example.

However, that doesn’t mean that all associations are here to stay. Industries and workplaces are also evolving, and so should the associations that represent them.

The “Great Resignation” Is Hitting All Nonprofits

After the pandemic, a wave of mass quitting hit the workforce, with more than 47 million Americans leaving their jobs in one year alone.

Unfortunately, the nonprofit sector isn’t immune to the “Great Resignation” movement. Experts predict that leaders in the sector are now gaining a new perspective on their work and personal lives, which might eventually drive them to quit.

Obviously, dealing with turnover is expensive for any organization, but it can even be more challenging for nonprofit associations with limited funding and resources.

A Possible Solution: Strong Retention Programs

Retention programs are no longer a luxury. Associations need to understand and cater to their staff’s changing needs.

Remote work options, flexible hours, and building a positive work culture are strong places to start.

Associations Aren’t Taking Enough Risks

The nature of associations makes them advocates for a particular profession, which means they already have their members’ trust. Yet, we still see board of directors and leadership taking fairly conservative approaches that can kill innovative ideas before they’re even analyzed.

Innovation is fueled by a willingness to take calculated risks. This does not mean associations need to “swing for the fences” and do something completely out of their comfort zones, but there should be a commitment to experimenting with new things and implementing novel ideas.

A Possible Solution: Membership Participation and Creative Culture

Associations need to start actively seeking innovation. This can mean pushing for more member participation, especially when tackling existing problems in the industry.

It also calls for fostering creativity and allowing for an open flow of ideas from the leaders, staff, and constituents who hold a stake in the organization’s success.

Do-Good Corporations Are Seen as Competition

In the past few years, people have started talking about a possible shift in the for-profit sector: being a do-gooder pays off.

The general idea here is that sharing information is now easier and faster than ever. In turn, this hyperconnected world of ours makes it easier to find (and incentivize) companies that embrace “good” initiatives and steer away from “evil” business tactics.

If this theory is true, why would it be a concern for nonprofit associations?

Well, some people think this shift threatens the existence of many organizations in the nonprofit sector, including associations. The way they see it, do-good companies can be strong competitors once they adopt advocacy roles.

A Possible Solution: Glass Half-Full Mentality

Rather than get lost in the corporate vs. nonprofit debate, associations might want to look at this shift as an opportunity.

They can start considering possible collaborations with interested parties. After all, the overarching goal is serving the members and the industry. There is no silver bullet that will help nonprofit associations overcome today’s challenges. We all need a blend of structural changes and fresh perspectives to stay relevant.

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