How to Ensure Your Association is Running at Peak Performance

How to Ensure Your Association is Running at Peak Performance 

Is your association operating at the best of its capabilities? For an association to be performing well, it needs to be involved and invested in a range of activities and programs that offer benefits to members and that contribute to the overall goals of the organisation.

From creating a value-adding range of products and services, to hosting informative and engaging events, to working with strategic partners, there are many ways that an association can ensure it is achieving its objectives now and into the future. 

Creating New Products and Services

All associations will have a core offering that they provide to their members, including support, advocacy, resources and networking opportunities. However, many associations have broadened their scope, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, to offer a wider range of services and products which can assist individuals within their specific industry.

Creating new products and services can do more than provide a better experience and value proposition to members; it can also entice new members to join your association, improve retention rates, and generate revenue.

Not all services and products need to incur an additional fee – in fact, making them an additional benefit for members can be a better idea. In other cases, it can be useful to open the sale of these to non-members. A quality product or service purchased by a non-member may make them consider membership at a later stage.

When creating new products and services, or even revamping existing ones, it’s important that an association takes their strategic goals into consideration and ensures that the new offering is in line with their overarching direction. Products and services will only be a valuable tool in improving performance if they are strategically considered in the broader context of the association’s purpose and objectives. 

Managing Events and Conferences 

Events and conferences have long been a key pillar of an association’s work, and a major revenue stream to continue operations at peak performance. Managing these large-scale events can be challenging, especially for associations with minimal staff, and sometimes bringing in external assistance to deliver an event is a worthwhile exercise to ensure a smooth and successful outcome.

Some of the key questions to consider when managing events include:

  • How does this event align with my association’s strategic objectives?
    Before pursuing any event, think about how hosting this event will help you work towards your ultimate goals. Events require time, effort, staff and resources; it is vital that they provide a good return on this investment with a clear and tangible outcome.
  • How does this event provide value to my membership?
    Thinking about why a member would attend this event – and why they would consider coming back for more events hosted by your association – is crucial. Giving up your time to attend any kind of conference and event, whether online or in person, is a big undertaking for busy professionals. It is important that members feel it is worth their time and effort.
  • What am I hoping attendees get out of this event?
    Education, professional development, networking opportunities and access to experts are all potential outcomes for your event attendees. Knowing what you hope to achieve will assist in the planning of a comprehensive and successful event.

Offering Certification Programs

Certification programs are the second most popular incentive for members to join professional associations. These programs add to or validate the members’ experience, qualifications or the excellence of their business. They provide an excellent tool for positioning the association as leaders within the industry and an essential part of maintaining quality in the sector. 

A certification program will not become a successful element of your association’s strategy overnight. For these programs to gain traction, they need to first be recognised as a positive – and eventually essential – part of operating within a specific industry. This often takes years of delivering the certification program. However, with careful planning, an association can begin a successful certification program which delivers results in the short as well as the long term.

To do this, it is vital that you enlist experts and leaders in the field to contribute to the certification program, including in the development of resources, delivery of materials, and training of participants. Equally important is to implement a strong marketing campaign which positions the program as essential for professionals in the industry. 

Securing Partners 

To deliver the best possible value to members, and ensure financial sustainability and success, associations can work with carefully selected sponsors and partners. Partnerships offer a fantastic opportunity to open a new revenue stream, as well as granting your members access to leaders in your respective field.

Securing quality partners requires planning and skillful negotiations. Firstly, an association must determine what kind of organisations would be beneficial, to them and to their members. The relationship should be mutually beneficial, meaning the association should be able to provide a strong incentive for the partner to invest with them. To do this, you should consider your members’ buying power, the opportunities your association could offer in terms of branding rights, and more.

Questions? Need Help?

This is just a quick run-down on how to build a supportive, productive association culture. AES offers comprehensive services in this area. Simply contact us for further information, or book a free consultation.

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, the National 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.

Disclaimer: The articles on our website are intended to stimulate interest in the subject matters. All comments and articles are for information purposes only. Professional advice should be sought on specific matters, and with lawyers under Costs Agreement and to which Legal Professional Privilege (LPP) applies.