What Kind of Association Do You Aspire to Be?

Belinda Moore
Apr 08, 2024By Belinda Moore

Charting a course to the future for your association can feel like a lot like herding cats. Each person involved brings a unique set of experience, ambitions, and interests, which makes the task of aligning everyone behind a single compelling vision of the future challenging.

This is where exploring different models of what “success” could look like can be useful. By exploring different options, you gain invaluable insights into the paths that could lead your association towards its most impactful and engaging evolution.

Below are six models to spark this thinking. Before you start, remember that embracing just one may not be appropriate.

The success of many associations lies in their ability to adopt multiple roles, catering to the broad spectrum of member needs through a combination of functions. You may find your ideal model is a blend of those below – or something else entirely.

In this process the true challenge comes from clarifying which roles are critical to your overarching purpose. And which we can stop doing. This creates a focus that enables you to concentrate resources where you can make the most impact.

Once crafted, your shared vision of future success is a valuable compass that can guide planning decisions.

So, what’s your vision of success?

The Content Provider – The Netflix of Associations. 

Imagine your association as the Netflix of member engagement, crafting a buffet of personalised content that make each member feel like you are doing it just for them. With a little tech wizardry and a lot of insight, you’re serving up a custom mix of content that hit the sweet spot every time. It’s about knowing what content your members need before they do, delivering it with a flourish, and hearing them say, “Wow, they really get me!” Your aim? To be the go-to source for content that is so tailored, it feels like magic.

The Connector – The LinkedIn of Associations.

Think of your association as LinkedIn, supercharged with the power of in-person connection. It’s not just about who you know; it’s about who you could know. By weaving a web of opportunities, you help members expand their networks in meaningful ways. This isn’t just networking; it’s purpose driven connectivity at its finest. Members come to you not just to mingle, but to forge connections that propel them forward, powered by your uncanny ability to match them with the right people at the right time.

The Mobiliser – The Change.Org of Associations. 

Channel the energy of Change.Org, transforming your association into a beacon for activism and action. Your calling card? Mobilising your members around causes that matter, turning passion into policy changes, and advocacy into action. It’s about harnessing the collective power of your community to make a difference, crafting campaigns that capture hearts and minds, and leading the charge towards tangible change. You’re the megaphone, amplifying your members’ voices to echo far and wide.

The Upskiller – The Duolingo of Professional Development. 

Imagine if Duolingo and professional development had a love child; that’s your association. It’s about making learning addictive, turning education into an experience that’s as engaging as scrolling through your favourite social media feed. From bite-sized lessons to full-blown certifications, you’re making sure your members are always leveling up, equipped with the latest skills and knowledge. Your secret sauce? A learning journey so personalised and engaging, members can’t wait to log in and learn.

The Store - The Amazon of Associations

Imagine your association as the Amazon of the membership world, offering a seamless, personalised platform where members can connect with all the products and services they need with ease - and not just those provided by the association. Just as Amazon revolutionized online shopping, your association aims to redefine how members from the solutions they need. By leveraging technology and data insights, you provide a one-stop-shop for the resources, events, products, and services your members need.

The Advocate – The Amnesty International of Your Field. 

Your association stands tall like Amnesty International, wielding data, experience, and insight to champion the causes your members care deeply about. It’s not just about being in the conversation; it’s about leading it, turning passion into policy, and advocacy into action. You’re the rallying cry for your community, strategising campaigns that turn heads, change minds, and spur action. Behind every call to action, there’s a carefully crafted strategy, ensuring your members’ voices are heard loud and clear.

The Innovator – The Tesla of Associations.

Envision your association as the Tesla of your sector, sparking innovative breakthroughs and pioneering change. With a blend of visionary ideas and state-of-the-art technology, you're setting the pace for the future, much like Tesla has transformed the automotive and energy industries. Your aim is to not just meet member expectations but to exceed them, by leading the charge towards new frontiers. Each project and initiative is a leap forward, pushing boundaries and inspiring your members to think bigger. "This is where the future starts," your members think, admiring the bold path you carve. In the spirit of Tesla, your association is more than a participant in your industry - it's a trailblazer, making the journey of innovation as exhilarating as driving a car that symbolises the future itself.

Clarifying your vision makes it much each to articulate your key strategic moves: what new initiatives to launch, what activities to discontinue, which areas to improve, and what practices to maintain. This insight guides you to invest resources wisely, focusing on actions that propel your association toward its goals.

If you are looking for someone to help facilitate your next strategic planning process, email [email protected] and let's chat about how we can make it your most successful ever!