Q&A on Permanent Changes for Associations – Ask JP #031



Today on Ask JP we are joined by Grace Moery, Salesforce Administrator and Executive Assistant to the President to ask JP your burning questions.
“What do you think is going to permanently change for associations moving forward?”
I think associations are going to have to evaluate some of their legacy programs and whether they’re worth continuing or make sure that they’re strategically important to the organization or their mission. I recently spoke with an association CEO who said that they started evaluating their meetings portfolio and about half of their meetings do not make money; they began the evaluation prior to pandemic, however, now they really need to evaluate which ones they’ll continue hosting. The big question to ask is, “Do these events keep our mission moving forward?” If yes, keep doing them. If not, the business model needs to be reevaluated to ensure sustainability moving forward.
The pandemic is forcing associations to see that what they were doing before wasn’t as profitable or provide members value. Just because you’ve been doing it for 20 years is not reason enough to keep doing it for another 20.
“What type of people associations need to have on their teams moving forward?”
This is one of the bigger changes happening right now. We all good folks who have been in the association space for a very long time that don’t have the ability to adapt and have the speed that we now need in order to compete, survive, and thrive. I remember a story from 1987 when the University of Oklahoma was still running the wishbone. There was a team called the Miami Hurricanes that could easily disrupt the wishbone with faster athletes on the defensive side of the ball than the offensive side of the ball. That is what has happened with the pandemic. We’re running the wishbone and the world is now running the Miami defense. The groups that can be faster –speed and frequency – and the people that can perform in that environment are the folks that we need for our associations moving ahead.
“What will change in the relationship between the member and the association?”
There’s definitely a change there, however, I think there is upside to it. A lot of associations members were kind of – especially those at the board and leadership level –in the association’s business way too much. They weren’t allowing the association staff to take the reins, execute and perform. They hired the team to do all that but then they got in the middle of it. In some cases, the interference had a direct impact on members.
I think that the association volunteers, leaders, board members, and company members that are participating in the association are now going to say, “Whoa, hold on. We don’t know this association stuff, and you guys need to do it because I’ve got to run my own business. I don’t have time to think about my volunteer business.” Right? I think it’s will be imperative for the association to adapt some of the things that we talked about when answering earlier questions.
Associations need to become faster and to continually evaluate their business models. Those are the things that have changed and that’s a good thing.
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