This week YourMembership.com is “on the road” in Tempe, Arizona attending the 2014 AMC Institute Annual Meeting. We are proud to be the Platinum Sponsor for AMCi, because Association Management Companies (AMCs) have always been an important part of our success.
In early 2000, we were focused on state and local chapter associations, which we viewed as being underserved by the association management software (AMS) providers of the day. It was our opinion that these associations were in the greatest need of the help the technology we were building could provide. They were simply being ignored because they weren’t considered a big enough fish for the big AMS companies then.
When looking at the bigger picture, it is important to recognize that AMCs have played a vital role in helping these same types of organizations survive and compete in the business world. The associations being served by AMC’s come in a variety of sizes, and represent a large spectrum of industries and professionals. This mirrors the makeup of our customers as well, making the synergy between AMCs and YourMembership strong.
We believe the AMC industry will continue to experience growth opportunities for the foreseeable future. It is no secret that the pressures being driven by technology, competition, and the economy are forcing associations to address tough challenges concerning their existence. These include:
- How to remain a relevant concern for their members and industry they serve
- How to keep up with the changing demands driven by technology advances
- How the serve an evolving membership, specifically the need to address generational changes within their member structure
More and more associations are being faced with the choice of consolidation within their industry or having to disband because of these forces listed above. It is an alarming trend we began to witness following the 2008 recession.
Some associations are losing market penetration within their industry when looking at the percentage of potential members versus the number actual members. The side effects of this change are:
- A loss of traditional revenue generated by membership dues
- An increase in the cost of providing programs and services as membership numbers and dollars decline
- The loss of leadership vital to the health of the organization
Smaller associations that have traditionally been “required” to do more with less are finding that even with technology getting less expensive, it is still tough to fit within their tightening budgets. And those looking at “free” or low cost solutions are discovering that they often do not serve their members’ needs.
Associations are having, in some cases, to deal with four distinct generations of members – each with their own needs and expectations. Younger members, especially millennials, have experienced technology as a key component of their entire education experiences, have expectations that will put pressure on associations not investing in current technology. Their expectations may be a stretch for some association’s technology budgets.
The Roadblocks to Success
What holds many of these associations back is an adversity to change. The leadership of these organizations find it difficult to move away from the “status quo” mentality that no longer serves their member’s best interests. There is almost an unwillingness to embrace new technology that allows a stronger connection to members. They question the value of:
- Mobile technology
- Social media/community
- The need to be present and engaged wherever their members are meeting – virtual or physical
Where many might see these as daunting challenges, we see great opportunity – especially for AMCs. Economic forces, especially around technology, will continue to make AMCs an attractive strategic choice for associations lacking the resources to keep up.
We recently published a case study featuring Ewald Consulting, one of the largest AMC’s we work with at YM. In the report we highlighted how Ewald is able to effectively work with 43 associations, utilizing one integrated solution to handle member management, online communities, and non-dues revenue creation. They have enjoyed remarkable growth with this strategy.
As Kathie Pugaczewski, CAE, Vice President of Communications and Technology for Ewald told me, “We are able to move from being an administrative focused business to a leadership focused business for our clients.” Please take a moment and download this case study.
Through the data we have pulled together from our newsletters, webinars, and other thought leadership content we have shared with over 60,000 association professionals we have come to this conclusion:
- Association professionals are hungry for knowledge
- They need leadership in all areas of their business
- How to retain members and recruit new members for the future
- How to create and drive engagement with a social networking strategy that includes an integrated online community
- How to access and analyze member data to provide greater value to members
- How to identify and implement non-dues revenue vehicles
- How to help members succeed in their careers
- They need leadership in all areas of their business
We believe the technology is available to help AMC’s provide solutions to the challenges many of these associations struggle with to stay relevant, and in business. Yes, we are bullish on AMC’s and look forward to helping them and the associations they serve continue to grow and prosper.