In the office today, I read the statement from the Reserve Bank of Australia on its decision to leave interest rates on hold. The general economic outlook isn’t feeling great. In Australia and internationally, many senior economists are concerned about the very real prospect of a significant economic downturn on the horizon. So how would this affect the day-to-day operations of an association?
Business models: During a downturn your organisation becomes particularly vulnerable to losses and can easily miss opportunities for gains due to tight financial and staff resources. If you’ve got an ancient business model barely surviving the not-so-new millennium, then don’t count on it making it through a downturn. Now is the time to review your business model to ensure you are optimally set up to succeed in the current and future operating environment. I recommend reading Peggy Hoffman’s article, Mission Driven Volunteer, for more insights on this. It’s still very relevant.
Sponsorship and partnerships: We are seeing big changes in how corporates are seeking to partner with associations. They are investing more money than ever — but into fewer partnerships. They want tangible results and creative implementation. They seek engagement with the “right” people, rather than a lot of people. They will run screaming from the next person who puts “we will put your logo on our website” as a major potential partnership benefit (seriously … please don’t do this). When you submit a proposal for a partnership you are entering a very competitive space. Associations are investing heavily into business partnership programs that are highly professional. You need to ensure your program can compete.
Membership: Research has shown that membership is counter-cyclical. People tend to gravitate towards associations during downturns, provided the association is offering tangible value. Now is the time to look at the value you provide to members. Are you really making a positive difference in their lives? Would they notice if you were gone? If the answer to those questions is “no,” then you’ve got serious work to do. Your goal is to ensure you are truly entangled in the lives of your members throughout their career. If you have organisational members, you need to ensure you have multiple points of contact within each organisation and a relationship with each contact.
For membership ideas check out the Membership Managers’ Handbook (2015 Edition) Ebook.
This article was originally published on SMS Online and can be found here.