Industry Insights for 2021

This past week, a great partner of ours, David Carrithers shared with us the latest Association Laboratory Looking Forward report.  What a treasure trove of insights; and ones we look forward to discussing with David in an upcoming 6 Degrees episode. 

Here are some key take-aways we got from diving a little deeper into the data as it aligns with topics we’ve addressed on our show:

  • Self-organizing groups are a growing source of competition for associations. This seems to be especially true of associations with budgets more than $5M and 20,000 members.  What might this reveal? Your members may feel lost in the shuffle, or perhaps your association benefits from being such a well-known entity that companies feel they must pay their dues but it’s ultimately just a “check the box” budget line item.  You need to ask yourself, what is tethering your members to the soul of the association? If the relational value isn’t there, eventually, neither will the desire to keep just paying the bill.
  • Creating more in-depth engagement and building positive awareness among non-members are the biggest barriers to a successful membership strategy. Once again, this concern ranked highest among the largest organizations. You may wonder if the two are related, and in a relational culture where individuals want to be seen for who they are while also feeling a part of a community, we’d argue that yes these are absolutely connected.  Engaged people want to engage more people.  If you are suffering from members of your own tribe feeling disconnected, the outside world will see and feel that.  Social media is built entirely on the desire for people to build community, start on the inside and the outside will come.
  • Government Advocacy ranked third among strategic concerns.  Given the time we are in right now, it seems right on target for associations to be concerned about member retention and events, but government advocacy?  In an episode of 6 Degrees, we visited with Josh Babb about this very topic.  Considering that government advocacy could be an untapped source of differentiation and diversified revenue, it’s hardly the time for associations to be pulling back on this area of service.  From a strategic perspective, it would be useful to see how the advocacy is tied into the mission authentically and to determine if yesterday’s methods of advocacy match with today’s connected, top of the news cycle way of making noise on important issues.

What insights resonated with you?  Check out the report here and let us know what you are thinking and look for our next 6 Degrees of Associations episode featuring more thoughts and take-aways with David!

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