Knowing the right people in the legislature is important, and often the responsibility of an association’s government affairs staff. But knowing your members’ backgrounds and getting them in front of said lawmakers and staffers can be just as powerful an advocacy tool. The trick is balancing an association’s reliance on staff and volunteer efforts to be sure that they work together effectively.
By Sheryl Jackson
If associations aren’t careful, they’ll follow the same path Eastman Kodak Company’s film business took, warns Shira Harrington, chief engagement officer of Purposeful Hire and an association recruitment expert.
Kodak knew photography was moving to digital formats, even building one of the first digital cameras in 1975, but the company was slow to transform its business which accounted for 90 percent of film sales in the 1990s.
Likewise the value proposition for association membership has changed over the past 10 years as millennials have become a larger part of the workforce – and a larger percentage of the association target audience, points out Harrington. “If associations don’t change their current business models to attract and engage them, they will be defunct in 10 years as existing members retire,” she warns.
Here are 12 strategic steps association leaders can take to recruit, engage, retain and develop younger members, to prepare the association not just for survival, but also for success.
How do you measure success on Facebook, Twitter and other social media? For the American Association of University Women (AAUW) it was with a combination of online campaigns that generated 16,000 page views on Facebook, a 40 percent increase in Twitter followers, and a 400 percent growth in Instagram followers.
For the Certified Financial Analyst Institute (CFA), it was a rebranding campaign that went 148 percent over their engagement goal, and reached 65.5 million impressions from 2,282 mentions and 1,608 users, in just one month!
Find out how they did it, here.
On the face of them, unbranded websites might seek to allow those pushing products to reach a wider audience, raise awareness, or link to a branded product site. But for associations and nonprofits, is it really worth spending all that money and time on a piece of real estate that doesn’t advertise your issues and membership?
The whole membership structure is facing a problem. Many people are no longer willing to pay for belonging to an organization unless they can see a tangible benefit. So what’s a member-based organization to do? Well, a great place to start is to attract younger people to your association. And there’s a way to do that that’s pretty unique to the younger generation.
When the National Speakers Association of Colorado increased their membership by almost one-third in less than a year, there were no special contests, big events, or splashy membership campaigns. As Leslie Shivers, manager of the association says, “We just went back to the basics.”
Conferences, professional education webinars, advocacy efforts, networking opportunities, or even a magazine, are all obvious benefits for most member associations. But often overlooked is a career center that can serve as a recruitment tool for highlighting non-members.
The One-Two Punch
A well-run career center helps an association identify potential new members, and generate non-dues revenue, as well as acting as a benefit for its current members.
Assessing a contract advocacy professional’s performance, and justifying the expense to board members, or even yourself, can be tricky.
Whether you hire a lobbyist to address a single issue, or to supplement the association staff with an ongoing, more comprehensive assignment, ask yourself these five questions when determining if they met expectations.
How many balls can you juggle at once? That’s a question many association leaders ask themselves at one time or another. But for those that have a staff of one, two, or three, it’s a constant reality. Read on for 5 tips on getting the most bang for your buck from a small staff.