December 16, 2008

Associations in a Down Economy: Talking the Talk or Walking the Walk?

So lately, it seems as though the doom and gloom has been everywhere! Ebeneezer Scrooge has multiplied by about a million, and they all seem to have a radio or television show...

However, in what should be no surprise to association professionals and executives, I am here to tell you that I (as well as many of you Association bloggers) believe associations are MORE IMPORTANT in a down economy than people/members may think. The problem as I see it is that we need to be letting our members know it and we need to be backing up this claim!

I posted a few months back now about things we should be doing to prepare for the down economy, and that there are many opportunities at which we should be looking.

As I re-read that post, I thought to myself "is cutting programs and outdated communication vehicles really an opportunity?" The answer is yes in terms of keeping the association viable, but not really in terms of providing tangible benefit to members in difficult times.

So in this post, I guess I wanted to try to come up with a few ways that associations can become MORE IMPORTANT to your members in these difficult times:

1. Make Networking Easy -- Networking is a HUGE benefit of membership in most associations, so how can your group provide ways for your members to find its value in this down economy? Are components offering local get-togethers? If so, promote them! Can you use social media tools like a group on LinkedIn to enhance networking? If you don't have one, start one!

2. Supplement Professional Education Offerings with Personal Development Programming - While your association might be more professional in nature and offer CEUs and other ed opportunities in a professional sense, there is always value in providing personal development programming for your members. Just think - your association offers a personal development program on "resume writing" for people who haven't updated resumes in years. They see the value, and have more loyalty because of it, which talks directly to a recent post by Ben Martin about being ready for when the economy turns around. You have kept a member by helping them when they needed it.

3. Communicate Regularly About What You're Doing to Assist - Members won't know what you can offer unless you are telling them about it. Promote the things you're doing on your web site and through your other regular communication vehicles.

What other ways are your associations stepping up and providing value to your members in this down economy? What am I missing?

What do you think about my not so bold claim above that associations are more beneficial during economic downturns? Are we talking the talk or walking the walk in helping our members through this?

Are there any associations out there doing cool programming that you can share with others?

As Mike Myers used to say on Saturday Night Live, "I'll give you a topic... Associations: talking the talk or walking the walk... Discuss..."

1 comment:

Edna said...
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