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As we continue to nativate these unprescendted times, it has us also thinking about preparing for the next recession. Now, is the ideal time to take steps to make sure you are prepared to weather an economic downturn and protect you small association’s future. Are you prepared?

Choosing the right technology to support your association is a powerful step toward preparing for whatever might unfold.

Here are four ways to put your organization on a stronger footing for the future.

1. Create a strategic plan.

Strategic planning is critically important to an organization’s success. And a strategic plan includes technology to support your organization’s acquisition, engagement, retention, and revenue goals.

If your association doesn’t feel tech-ready, you’re not alone. The Community Brands Benchmark Report on Small-Staff Associations found that small associations feel technologically unprepared to meet their members’ needs in the future.The idea of building a strategic plan may seem overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. Even if your association is volunteer-led or has only one or two staff members, you can take steps toward a strategic plan by defining a few key goals and using that list to hold your team accountable for progress and growth.

TIP: Polish up on best practices around key performance areas for your organization and incorporate them into your strategy. Be sure to include a plan for association technology to support your goals. Here are some resources to get you started.

2. Streamline your processes.

To move your mission forward – especially in tough times – your team needs to be efficient. Automating manual tasks allows you to spend more time engaging members and delivering member value, which leads to increased growth and retention.

Look for association management software (AMS) that can automate things like email communications, membership renewals, and reports so your team can focus on delivering a great member experience. For example, when members join your organization and pay their annual dues, they can receive an automated email confirmation that includes a receipt of payment. Or when members register for your association’s annual conference and provide their updated mailing address, the system can automatically update their profile instead of requiring a staff member to manually update it.

TECH TIP: YourMembership AMS gives you an easy-to-use interface and simple workflows to streamline day-to-day operations. You can do things such as schedule automatic email renewal reminders and offer members the option of automatic credit card renewal.

3. Offer continuous value.

Keeping members around means continually providing them with value – now and during challenging times. The 2019 Digital Evolution Study shows that the most loyal members place more importance on technology in their lives and feel their organization delivers a better technology experience. This data suggests that a lack of emphasis on technology in your organization could leave many of your members questioning the value of membership – which, in turn, could impact acquisition, retention, and the long-term outlook for your organizations’ success.

Here are some ways to give members the technology experience they expect while providing them services they can’t resist – even if the economy is down. Provide valuable content, such as an online member community and an online job board, with limited access for non-members to give them a preview of the benefits of becoming a member.

  • Set up an online member community that connects members with personalized content, career and learning opportunities, and other benefits that are specific to their needs and interests.
  • Allow members to easily engage with your online community, register and pay for events/dues, take learning courses, view job board and websites – all from their mobile devices.

TECH TIP: Look for technology systems – including AMS, learning management system (LMS), event management, and career center solutions – that integrate to help you deliver a great online member experience.

4. Make it easy for members to stick around.

The last few months before renewal present a prime opportunity to remind your members of the value your organization has provided so far, and also re-kindle the relationship with members whose interest may have faded.Some tips for the 90 days before renewal:

Offer auto-renewals. The 2017 Member Loyalty Study found that 13 percent of lapsed members simply forgot to renew. Address this issue by offering an option to automatically renew membership, with the membership fee charged to the member’s credit card. And consider offering a monthly payment option to make it more affordable. Your membership management software should allow you to set up these options, with corresponding automated emails that notify members when their membership has been renewed and payments received. Communicate value. Remind members of the benefits and value they receive from your organization. This is a great time to segment your list and send targeted messages. For example:

  • Remind members of the benefits they have not yet taken advantage of, and that there’s still time to do so.
  • Reinforce the value of membership by reminding members of the benefits they have taken advantage of.
  • Let members know about upcoming events and opportunities they’ll miss out on if they do not renew.
  • Consider offering different member models for those that might have lost their job or may be struggling during a time in need.

Don’t wait for tough times. Prepare your organization with association technology that supports your organization now and for years to come.

For additional tips, watch the on-demand webinar “How to recession-proof your small staff association.