The new role of the executive director in today’s associations

Being an ED in today’s challenging and evolving times means adapting to trends.

Here are some effective ideas for incorporating current trends within your role as ED.

Michelle Schweitz, YourMembership Marketing Manager

By Michelle Schweitz, Marketing Manager, Community Brands


As an association executive director, you juggle a lot of responsibilities – from driving revenue and developing the board to ensuring the organization continues to grow while delivering a great member experience.

Today, you have an added role – adapting to changing membership trends. Of course, keeping up with trends that are continually shifting isn’t always easy – especially with all of the other hats you wear and especially in this challenging year.

YourMembership is here to help. Based on our experience and research, here are some effective ways to address current membership trends within your role as ED:

Drive strategic growth initiatives.

Growing and retaining membership requires delivering more of the benefits members expect. For example, job opportunities and networking are among the top reasons members join a professional organization. Also, findings from a recent association industry study by Community Brands suggest that member engagement is growing, and that members who are now interacting with their professional association more than ever place greater emphasis on virtual ways to connect and learn. With these trends in mind, you can grow your member base and keep members more engaged by offering an online job board, virtual events, and an online member community.

Ensure that association activities boost revenue.

Make sure your virtual member activities drive revenue by securing sponsorships for those activities. For example, sell sponsorships for virtual events or webinars. And, sell ads for your online member community.

Be a board-builder to ensure strong governance for the organization.

An online community is not only a great tool for delivering the virtual engagement opportunities your members want, but also a great way to support your board. Having online collaboration tools in place can help your board work more effectively, especially when meeting in person is not convenient or feasible. For example, using your association’s online member community, you can set up a group for board members to connect and easily share documents with each other.

Design great experiences throughout the member journey.

While member engagement might be growing, keeping members engaged is another story. Especially in rapidly changing times, it’s increasingly important to automate as many manual processes as possible so your staff members can spend more time creating a great member experience. For example, use workflow automation to schedule automatic emails, such as membership renewal and expired notices, send virtual event confirmations, and schedule reports for automatic distribution via email to appropriate staff members.

Learn more

These are just some of the ways to adapt to changing association trends. With 2021 just around the corner, we’ve pulled together a guide to membership trends that will help you tackle your role in these evolving times. It includes tips and resources to incorporate into your plans to help you deliver an experience that will meet (and exceed) your member’s expectations – next year and for years to come.
Read the guide, 6 Trends to Help You Meet (and Exceed) Member Expectations in 2021.

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