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Where Does Your Association Stand on Stakeholder Development?

by | Jun 12, 2015 | Industry News & Trends

This week I received an email from noted thought leader and speaker, Jeff De Cagna, FASAE, sharing his thoughts on my most recent blog post on member engagement. Along with his comments Jeff sent an article he wrote that was recently published in “Association Forum” magazine titled Build Your Association Through Stakeholder Development. In it Jeff pushes back on the traditional practices of member engagement and suggests an alternative strategy that he has labeled “stakeholder development.”

As Jeff so rightly pointed out, there is a lot of discussion in the association world these days focused on identifying and implementing new member engagement strategies. This coupled with the proliferation of new frameworks and tools to track, analyze and interpret data related to member engagement is playing a role in the profound and relentless transformation that is reshaping the way current stakeholders associate.

Jeff wrote that, “member engagement is an approach that seeks to extend the life of the membership-centric business model at precisely the time when associations need to think beyond membership and focus on creating distinctive new value with and for broader networks of stakeholders. The focus of these efforts must be on creating more frequent and more meaningful interactions between value seekers and value creators that drive greater collaboration on solving short-term problems, meeting intermediate-term needs and helping to achieve long-term outcomes.”

This relates to some of the thoughts Anna Caraveli, PhD. and Elizabeth Weaver Engel, MA, CAE, presented in their recent whitepaper Leading Engagement from the Outside in: Become an Indispensable Partner in Your Members’ Success, which was the subject of our most recent Thought Leadership Series webinar and Ask the Thought Leader Episode. The status quo for how organizations connect with members and prospects no longer holds up. Associations defining engagement by what they value, not by what members value, is outdated and closes the door on participation for many people.

Jeff writes about the real need for associations to become “thrivable” — to be able to flourish within the context of societal transformation during the next decade and beyond.
In order to do so, associations will have to move away from default membership-centric business models and implement more adaptive and resilient business models designed to co-create meaningful new value by nurturing more intimate relationships with diverse networks of potential contributors.

Creating value by delivering a unique membership experience will be mandatory in order for associations to keep pace with the speed of transformation we are experiencing in virtually every field of human endeavor.  As Elizabeth Engel suggested, the ability for associations and their members to collaborate and focus on co-creating unique value is what will ultimately drive deeper connects between associations and their members.

As Jeff noted, “by placing the focus on co-creating unique value driven by shared purpose reduces any unnecessary barriers to participation, and opens the door to intriguing new connections beyond the association’s usual suspects and accelerates trust-building and collaboration. This is the work of “stakeholder development.”

And while I have you here, I want to invite you to attend our June Thought Leadership Webinar next Wednesday, 5 Ways to Ratchet Your Retention Rates through the Roof. Led by Mary Byers, CAE, author of “Race for Relevance: 5 Radical Changes for Associations” and “Road to Relevance: 5 Strategies for Competitive Associations” we will be diving into association membership – specifically what tech companies can teach your organization about membership. Mary will share her thoughts on perpetual membership, touch points and managed contacts. You’ll learn what associations with high retention rates are doing that others aren’t; and, most importantly, identify the five questions every membership association needs to be asking today. Mary will leave you with practical ideas and a roadmap for reworking and re-invigorating your retention efforts. I hope you can attend.

Also, if you happening to be in Sacramento, CA on June 24th, be sure and check out CalSAE’s TechTalks 2015 Conference. I will be speaking on a panel with other AMS providers, talking about the state of our industry and what every association should know when considering a member management system for their organization.


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