Association Management is Changing

Association Management is Changing

The way we manage an association is going to change and here is why!


Working within a COVID-19 world has forced many association leaders to rethink how they will manage their organisation in the future. With changes to the way associations can run events, engage with members, and continue to offer value, it is important that all organisations are able to be flexible and adapt.


One way that associations can continue to operate sustainably and effectively into the future is to change the way they manage administrative functions. Outsourcing administration is an option for associations looking to focus more time on other areas of governance and operations. 


If you are planning to restructure your association, it is vital that you carefully follow the necessary steps for a smooth transition and to prevent the loss of essential staff, knowledge and resources.


How has association management changed in recent times?


The last two years have seen significant shifts in the way that businesses and organisations around the world have managed their operations. From losses of staff and revenue, to changes in the way they deliver goods and services, almost every company and group has needed to adapt and learn new ways of operating in these uncertain times.


Associations are no different. The requirement to attract and retain members has become more difficult as events and conferences became impossible, but many have adapted their services to meet a changing demand. 


Changing technology has revolutionised how we communicate and deliver our services, providing the benefit of allowing us to provide the same advantages from any location. Now, members can utilise the services and opportunities of associations without the need to travel or attend events in person, all from the comfort of their homes.


The ways that associations manage their administrative functions have also changed to fit the new working environment. Many association administrative functions have relied on a combination of full-time, part-time employees and volunteers managing the needs and expectations of members. The most significant expense and time for these organisations are often managing staff and leasing of office premises.


Association Executive Services have received several inquiries from association leaders seeking to outsource all their administrative functions to an association management company like AES. Many associations are not renewing their office lease. With outsourced core administration functions, more resources and time are being spent on areas such as member engagement and growth or influencing government policy.


What are some key administrative functions?

There are many administrative functions that can be outsourced to a third party, such as Association Executive Services. Some of the key ones include:

  • Answering phone calls during business hours
  • Managing member enquiries
  • Organising Board meetings
  • Managing databases
  • Running membership drives
  • Managing the association website and social media channels
  • Developing budgets


How to restructure your association


Restructuring an association requires time, planning and careful consideration to be done correctly. It is important that these decisions are not taken too quickly, or important functions and personnel may be lost. 


Before undertaking any restructuring, association leaders should take an audit of current resources and people. Work out exactly who does what. This may take some time and require consultation with different levels of the organisation, as often managers and CEOs aren’t aware of the day-to-day tasks of volunteers or entry-level staff. 


Remember that the volunteers and staff currently managing your organisation are your most important asset. Make sure you consider all their needs and communicate with them about the change on a regular basis. Be honest and transparent, and explain the reasoning for any decisions being made.


Before outsourcing the administration or other business functions to a third party, ensure all the work procedures are documented. Written procedures make it a lot easier for the outsourced company to continue with the service. Again, this will often require consultation and collaboration with different segments of the association.


You will also need to ensure that access to all systems and databases is possible – don’t let the only person who knows the website management password disappear!


Finally, decide what you want out of the restructure. Are you hoping that outsourcing administrative functions will result in better member management, greater compliance, increased sponsorship procurement, or something else? Developing some clear goals and objectives will help you to measure success over time.


Ready to change the way you manage your association?


If you are a business or association leader and looking to outsource administration or other functions, get in touch with Association Executive Services. 


Our services are provided by the most experienced association professionals in Australia, and include management of all member queries and requirements, management of events and conferences, maintenance of websites, finance reporting and analysis, tax and GST reporting, governance training programs, and much more. 


If you’re not sure what services you need, contact us and we can work with you to identify your requirements.

If you need help with change management, call the friendly team at AES on +61 3 8393 9382.

About the Author: Nick Koerbin (Executive Director, AES)

With over 30 years of management expertise, Executive Director and Founder of AES, Nick Koerbin is one of the most experienced NFP leaders in Australia. He has held positions as the CEO of Materials Australia, theNational Parts Code, as well as senior positions in the Institute of Insurance, Australian Quality Council, the Financial Planning Association, the Australian Human Resources Institute, and the Furniture Industry Association of Australia. Nick created AES with a vision of creating a set of management practices that could be consistently followed to ensure success. Over his 30 years in the industry, he noticed that inconsistent management practices often impeded delivery of services to members, which in turn created issues with membership renewal. By establishing AES and creating the NFP Association Best Practice Self-Assessment, Nick has been able to assist leaders in becoming more confident and informed decision makers so that they can create more effective strategies and implementation plans.

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