Associations offer advantages to members throughout their careers and regardless of external factors, but their value is best realised when society is in turmoil. The past eighteen months have posed unprecedented challenges for people all over the world. While Australians have been relatively lucky in respect of the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, our economy has inevitably been shaken by these global events. Being a part of an association offers members a myriad of benefits, especially during times of great uncertainty.
Associations offer members stability and support through difficult circumstances. Belonging to a wider group, outside of your own company or organisation, can present members with a sense of belonging and camaraderie that is important during challenging times. Although a lot of members will have experienced the many redundancies and resignations that have recently occurred in businesses across Australia, membership in an association remains one constant in what can feel like an ever-changing world.
To provide this sense of stability, associations should consistently engage with their members in a positive and personalised way. Attention to detail, adequate resource allocation, and clarity around processes and procedures all contribute to an association appearing steadfast and reliable.
Additionally, members should be made to feel supported through initiatives that recognise the changing world around us and make their lives and careers easier. Some examples could include networking opportunities and mentorship programs from younger members.
During times of turmoil, the need for accurate and up-to-date information is more important than ever. Unfortunately, during these challenges the ability to access timely information also becomes more difficult.
Associations can provide an invaluable service to members by collecting and curating relevant information and distributing it in an efficient manner. As many businesses struggle to find the time to keep up with ever changing rules around office closures, workforce ratios, and mask mandates, associations can keep abreast of this information and make it available to members without the need for them to trawl through news stories and government websites.
As employees leave companies, they create gaps in governance and knowledge shortages that can be extremely disrupting for a business. Associations can assist to provide additional resources where needed, while also assisting members to find opportunities.
The Australian Federal and State Governments have released several economic response packages at different times throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Programs such as JobKeeper have kept many businesses afloat during these challenging times, preventing some association members from losing their jobs when working became impossible under lockdown laws. Providing information on these programs is another service that can be offered by associations in their information sharing initiatives.
Additionally, funding is available for many organisations and not-for-profits to assist them through these tumultuous times. Associations can offer vital assistance to gather information about these funding schemes, direct members towards the programs that are relevant for them, and assist in putting together complex applications.
As the economic situation becomes more dire, staying ahead of the pack is more important than ever. Associations offer their members with education, training and professional development opportunities to ensure that they are always ready to take the next step in their careers.
Courses and certifications can be moved online to cater for lockdowns and restrictions, ensuring that the value of these programs continues to be felt by members. Implementing a learning management system (LMS) can assist to create a sense of community and increase the engagement of members online.
In order to retain and grow their membership base, it is vital that associations position themselves to offer these many benefits to their members. Providing support, information and education during this crucial period is an invaluable service that will place members in a better position to recover following the COVID-19 crisis.
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.
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