Clarity is a cornerstone to working with associations. It is hard to function well without it. Being an Association Manager and working for an Association Management Company (AMC), I find myself using the word “clarity” constantly when working with Boards.  

During a recent Board meeting, we referred to clarity of documentation several times during the meeting asking, “Will members understand what is being asked of them after reading this document?” 

For fun, I Googled the word “clarity” and recorded some of the phrases used to describe the word (not exhaustive): 

  • Clarity gives you direction & purpose. 
  • The quality of being clear & easy 
  • The ability to think clearly and not be confused. 
  • The state of having a full, detailed, and orderly mental grasp of something 


Clarity gives you direction & purpose. 

As an AMC, a lot of time is spent working through strategic planning activities with an association to better define its desired purpose and direction. The strategic planning process is an opportunity for the Board to add clarity to the mission and vision of the association and define how to allocate resources to fulfill it. Effective Boards understand the value of strategic planning to provide the clarity needed to be successful.   


The quality of being clear & easy 

Messaging and communications are a large part of today’s world.  Associations need to have a clear and easy message. Clarity of message and communications is crucial.  

Stakeholders, members, the public and staff need to have a clear understanding of what the association stands for to ensure all are on the same page. Keeping the message clear and easy to understand goes a long way and ensures the association thrives. Clarity, in this sense, provides direction for members to realize the value of their membership and for other key audiences to better understand the value of the association and its role in said industry. 


The ability to think clearly and not be confused. 

This aspect of clarity comes into play for all associations but especially those that provide licensure/certification. Registrants need clarity to understand the scope or practice, standards of practice, and code of ethics for their profession. Registrants/members should have a clear understanding of the rules of engagement from their professional body. Without clarity in the profession, it creates confusion for the members/ registrants & the public at large. And may impact the profession and its members negatively. Clarity helps to protect against any outside negativity. 

Recently I was at a Board meeting discussing updating a professional standard for the profession. Several times the question was asked, “Is this clear enough for registrants to understand, is there enough clarity in what the standard outlines for registrants to follow and understand it?” This question was asked several times throughout the meeting to guarantee the Board understood how the registrants may interpret the standard. Clarity was vital to the conversation, discussion, and any next steps.  


The state of having a full, detailed, and orderly mental grasp of something 

Associations have a purpose.  All associations are created out of a need to represent a group of people and organizations that have a common goal. Clarity is necessary in all aspects of an association’s operations. Here are some key examples of where clarity kicks in:  

  • Communications to members needs to be clear, simple and provide enough detail to add value for members.  It shouldn’t leave members asking more questions! 
  • By-laws need to be concise for Board members and members on how the association needs to be run. 
  • Policies & procedures need to be uniform and succinct throughout the association so Board roles, & staff roles are easily understood. 
  • Agendas for meetings need clarity to operate meetings efficiently and talk about the important issues of the association. 
  • Minutes from meetings need to provide a straightforward call to actions that are derived from Board meetings. 

In a world where people are bombarded with ads and messages each day (In a Google search, the website states that the average American sees 4,000-10,000 ads per day!), clarity of message and purpose is really key for a successful association. It is the bread and butter of what you do and why the association exists. If your Board isn’t talking about clarity in some shape or form around the boardroom table, the conversation needs to change – effective immediately.

Read Strauss’s latest blog:

Recognizing the Value of Board Members as Volunteers