Every industry has trends that affect the future of the industry and its stakeholders. In association management it is very important to stay on top of trends and to implement change to the association while having little disruption. How do trends positively influence associations and why is it so important to be a leading association that stays abreast of all trends, while continuing to forecast future trends?

It is crucial that an association’s management team continuously stay on top of the trends in association management. Associations should focus on the future to stay relevant and to provide outstanding service to its members. See my colleague’s article for more on this.

Many associations are not adapting to change quickly enough, are using old messaging and are providing outdated services to their members. This ultimately leads to member dissatisfaction and the association being in danger of becoming obsolete.

A nimble association that is willing to accept change and adapt to the latest trends will have a long and successful lifespan. Association managers should identify and prepare for trends that are emerging and implement new ideas accordingly. Understanding the trends and how to use the new ideas is key for taking an association to the next level.

An association can rejuvenate their current systems by paying attention to trends and not being resistant to change. Association leadership should focus on the future, incorporating trends and considering how they will affect the association’s daily practices and all board discussions.

Some Tips for Staying on Top of Association Management Trends:

  • Prioritize the need to identify trends. Attend professional development events, read trade publications and perform regular research on trends in associations.
  • Ensure your board meeting agenda includes discussion about the future and addressing trends and how they would influence the association.
  • Take part in regular environmental scanning to be aware of what works and what doesn’t work.
  • Form a committee that represents members and presents to the board on what member needs are, and what they will be in five and ten years into the future.

A huge trend affecting associations is digital technology. Being up-to-date with technology can add vast benefits to the services associations can deliver to their members. Members can now communicate among themselves regarding hot topics and the organization can collaborate to strengthen the association’s voice.

Members can also have personalized access based on their preferences for communication and information management. Content can be more collaborative as members are providing valuable information based on their experiences and professional backgrounds.

  • The capabilities of member management software continue to grow. Adopting an internal philosophy of growth and development will enable your association to grow with the software. Member management software now allows for customized communication with members based on their preferences, ultimately creating two-way dialogue.
  • Multimedia content provides a customized method for members to receive information and training, and to be interactive. Members from across the country can communicate in real time on issues affecting their profession.
  • A social media platform allows for members to communicate and share information. Research can be shared and utilized locally and nationwide.

Benefits to Keeping up with Trends

There are many benefits to staying on top of trends and embracing change within an association. There is opportunity for increased revenue streams and non-dues revenue on top of the annual conference. Examples include webinar education programming or a subscription service to an association information channel.

Open door communication between the office and membership can more easily be obtained as there are many different communication channels available to fit members’ needs.

Final Thoughts on Adapting to Change

Association leaders cannot be resistant to change and should instead focus on the future to stay relevant and to be a thriving association. A focus on future trends is necessary in association management and will be the main component in ensuring a strong association for the future.

As society and the environment is changing at an unpredictable rate, trends should be anticipated and scanned for and addressed in the strategic planning of the organization.

Above all, change is positive and can promote growth and member satisfaction within organizations.

For more on the importance of accepting change in association management, click here.