Thursday, December 5, 2013

Don't Go Another Year With a Board With Old Thinking... Make 2014 Count For Something

It's December 2013 and every association is about to embark on a new year.  A year in which we want our associations to go to a new level, membership to increase, more members engage in our programs and a vibrant board who is thinking futuristic with great ideas and innovation at the forefront.

In reality, the problem is many boards are still stuck looking into the past, not the future.  Hanging onto traditions, which at the time were amazing, but that aren't meaningful to the overall membership any longer.  Trying to appeal to the new wave of members in ways that don't draw them closer to the association.

Associations are currently experiencing one of the biggest dynamic shifts in technology and demographics ever experienced in human history. Business is changing at lightning speed, traditional business models are no longer relevant, and each demographic group wants things differently.

Yet many boards are choosing to ignore these changes and instead make decisions and instead make decisions that are driving their associations to become irrelevant to their members.   One of the biggest challenges associations face today is motivating and inspiring their boards to face facts and take steps to move their association’s communication strategy, value propositions, and member service models into the future.

The problem, you see, is that many board members believe they are in the membership business. Success and failure is defined by asking, “How much did we grow membership this year?” That is wrong thinking.

Right thinking is to not just sell a membership, but to sell a cause.. a revolution built behind a passion of decisions that can empower members and make a real difference in their lives.

Your association is in the business of creating a financially strong organization that has the funding to do the purpose of the organization. If you do that, people will want to join.

The questions that you, as a board member, constantly need to ask are, “What real value are we delivering to the member?” and “Is it shifting with the changing demands of our current and future members?”

Many boards today are predominantly controlled by baby boomers, who in large part rebel against making radical changes away from how it's always been done to adapt their associations. Baby boomers belonged to associations just to belong because their fathers were there at the birth of the organization and they ran around as a child at the association meetings.  The younger generation was not there and is far removed from the emotional experience of the start of the association.  They want to know, "What's in it for me?  What is the real value?"

Engaging with the concepts of innovation and change isn’t about making some radical shift that disrupts the association so much it splits the membership. Successful innovation and change starts with small steps, and continues with targeted, incremental changes that sees member value, loyalty, and excitement rise year after year. (I’ve seen this in my own association, where in the past eight years membership has increased 13%, non-dues revenue up 132%, and our overall net member surplus increased 858%.) 

Some associations may actually require a radical shift, but most simply need a series of small consistent changes over time to create the wave of excitement every association longs for. 

Below are three of my ten keys for tapping into innovation as a board member and building that Association Revolution that maximizes the recruitment, engagement and strength of any association:

Identify the problems you need to solve as an association:  I’m amazed at how many associations embrace solutions because “everyone is doing it” without identifying the problem first. You shouldn’t be putting up a Facebook page without answering the question, “What problems are we solving by having the Facebook page?” Real innovation means matching up tangible solutions to meet real member problems, while also introducing futuristic ideas to solving problems we aren’t aware of yet. The key is to define the challenges of your members, and help them solve the problems they can’t solve effectively by themselves.

Survey your membership:   As a board member, you serve the membership. That’s why you were elected. A key element to making great decisions as a board is to survey your membership on its thoughts about problems and solutions. Keep your finger on the pulse of how your overall membership views programs, services, and technology, and use the data to drive your value proposition. If they believe in the programs, they’ll remain members.

Look at your financial trends:  There are four key metrics you need to look at over time. These four numbers tell you whether board decisions are enhancing member value, or driving the association into the abyss.

  • Total Member Surplus at Year End. This displays the overall success of the organization in building financial resources to do the work of the association.
  • Total Membership Each Quarter. This tells you the direction of member confidence. If members have confidence in your association, retention rates are high, and membership continues to grow. 
  • Rolling 12 Months of Revenues and Expenses Each Quarter. This helps you see the impact of your board decisions on monthly basis.
  • Revenue Per Member on a Quarterly Basis. This shows how engaged the members are in member programs.
  • Quarterly Non-Dues Revenue vs Dues-Revenue.  This allows you to see the connection of non-dues vs dues revenue to your overall budget.  If dues is level, yet non-dues revenue is growing, you don't need to think about a dues increase as seriously.  It helps you make good decisions and not knee jerk, "We need to raise the dues."
Looking at these trends graphically at a board meeting will tell you within seconds if you are on the right track, or if you need to do something different. It’s amazing how quickly the conversation changes when you see any of those numbers heading south.

NOW FOR THE GOOD NEWS:  Would you spend $495 to change the thinking of your board?  I have recently launched my "live" presentation online, "How to Get Your Members to Scream Your Name and Beg for MORE".   The most common comment after my session is, "I wish my board would have been here to hear this."  Well now they can.  Click the short promo video to the right to see what others think about this session.

SPECIAL OFFER:   Purchase the 90-minute energetic program before December 31, 2013 and you will get it for $495 ($500 savings) for up to 20 of your board members and staff to watch.   Each one will have until March 31, 2014 to complete the session on their own, its 24/7 and able to be viewed on computer, tablets and other mobile devices at their convenience.  It includes my powerpoint handouts, the 90-minute session and a set of ten mini-breakouts in a document for each one to work through a series of thought provoking questions from the video.

Don't go another year letting your board think the way it was done in the past is going to sustain their association in the future.  Help them make the shift in thinking NOW!  Enroll your board and staff in my Association Revolution session today.

CLICK HERE to see full details, promo videos and order link.