I had a conversation with an Association Executive last week at the AE Institute. After a one-hour session about Being Relevant, she came up to me and said “It’s hard to create more relevance when we don’t sell a product or a service. I’m a small association and I don’t have staff, or new tools. I feel like I am spinning my wheels trying to show value for the dues my members pay.”
In a for-profit business, improving shareholder value happens by increasing revenues – either selling more, or spending less. In a not-for-profit buisness like yours, members are your shareholders, and your value comes from helping them do their job better, so they can be more successful. And what it takes to be successful changes with market conditions, with changing laws and regulations, and based on the tenure and knowledge of your members. Step into their shoes and understand what they need, and you will begin to turn relevance into member value.
You will improve relevance (and build value) when you keep up with change. Every association can find areas for change, no matter the size of your membership. AE Institute and other conferences offer tens of hundreds of possible ideas to make change in a mere four-day meeting. Back at home, you can make small change in the professional image of your members by contributing positive stories to the media (social and traditional media). Instead of reporting the news, change the way you communicate by learning to translating the benefit of national industry news to what it means to your member locally.
Create value by keeping pace with change – and your member will begin to see, and then understand your value. The art of being a successful leader is to chose the right areas to change. If you are not careful, you could spin your wheels with too many ideas of how to make the most effective change. As Ernest Hemmingway said “Never mistake motion for action”.