Observation from the Field: one of the major influential trade associations in the country may choose to dissolve over policy differences, etc.
Over the last five years, I’ve had the opportunity to chat with many different organizations, review business models, offer advice and suggestions. Here are a couple of things I’ve observed:
1. We can’t assume that our organization will continue based on the way it’s working today. If you have the assumption that your organization will perpetuate itself over time through inertia, that’s a problem. That’s a challenge because I don’t think we can assume the future anymore.
2. There are critical factors to be able to sustain the organization. If you have the assumption that your organization will perpetuate itself over time through inertia, that’s a problem. That’s a challenge because I don’t think we can assume the future anymore.
- First and foremost, the value you and members get from government relations and public policy apparatus is significant. It’s critical to stand for strong policy positions because you will attract people. Now, you may lose members along the way because of those stances as well, but I think that’s okay. Some organizations and some companies may stay because they want a seat at the table and want their voice to be known. They may not get their way all the time, but they certainly want to play defense if there are differences of opinion in the industry.
- The second thing is the dues model. The business plan must be sustainable. We often see too much reliance on a few big companies to fund the organization. Then you’ve got a major doughnut hole where other organizations don’t pay enough.
- The third thing is we’ve got to continue to look at the organization’s overall value proposition. Do people find that it resonates with their company? These little levers have to be pulled all the time. Government relations have to pull the business model to make sure it can sustain itself.
3. You must listen to your members to ensure that they are getting value for the money they paid and the influence you have.
Those things have to work together and never make the assumption that you will continue to operate. Never assume that it will continue to go the way it is. If we’ve learned one thing over the last 24 months, it is that.
Wish you the best. I hope this is helpful. Move forward.