October 21, 2008

The Economic Crisis and Associations

While not many people can find much that is positive about the economic crisis that is happening, ASAE's blog Acronym had a great post about how associations are stepping up to assist members and others navigate the downturn. Very commendable on their part!

I also wanted to point out that as we in the association management profession are looking at this downturn and its impact on our bottom lines, I believe that there is tremendous opportunity that when things are going well, we don't always think about. You're probably asking yourself 'where does this guy think there is opportunity in a recession?'

I believe that this economic downturn gives our organizations a great opportunity to really step back and look strategically at our offerings, and become more lean and agile by looking at each of our programs objectively to see if they are meeting the original purpose of their existence. To steal a phrase that one of our presidential candidates is very fond of "using a scalpel" to trim the fat.

The questions that this should have us asking right now are:
  • Is this program or service really serving the membership? If no, why not and is there another way to accomplish what we're trying to do with it?
  • What are specific ways that we can make the dues money we get go farther?
  • What are specific ways to bring in more non-dues revenue?
  • How can our current offerings generate more revenue?

I hope these questions aren't news to anyone, and that you are all asking them a lot more often than when we go into recession. It just seems to me as though the economic downturn gives us an even more urgent need to ask them to determine if we are meeting our members' needs.

In my eyes, while it's not a great situation to be in, it's not all doom and gloom. It's an opportunity for us to re-prioritize and redevelop our plans to meet the needs of the everchanging association and economic landscape.

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