JOURNAL: Associations Evolve: 2023 & Beyond Journal Released

We are excited to announce the release of Associations Evolve: 2023 & Beyond Journal, a compilation of articles from over 50 association thought leaders from around the globe.

This journal offers a unique perspective on the future of associations and the role they will play in shaping industries and communities. From innovative ideas for growth and sustainability to strategies for adapting to changing environments, the articles in this journal provide valuable insights and inspiration for association professionals.

As the association landscape continues to evolve, it is important for professionals to stay informed and stay ahead of the curve. The Associations Evolve: 2023 & Beyond Journal is a must-read for anyone looking to drive positive change and impact within their organisation. Get your copy today and join the conversation on the future of associations.

JOURNAL: Associations Evolve: 2022 & Beyond

Forty-six association experts from around the world have collaborated to produce a collection of articles showcasing contemporary thinking on governance, membership, revenue, events, and much more.

This is a great resource for those looking for inspiration and motivation to make 2022 your best year ever. It makes great holiday reading for those who are feeling particularly enthusiastic (tip: this publication pairs well with red wine and cheese).

Download “Associations Evolve: 2022 & Beyond”

This publication is part of our Associations Evolve project which looks for ways to help associations to thrive into the future. 

Thanks to Beau Cummin from Visual Traffic for his fabulous work designing this publication, Northern Territory Business Events for their great support of this project, and all our wonderful contributors.  

We hope you will find this collection of articles from experts in the association space as informative, inspiring, and motivating as we did. 

All the best for a fun and relaxing break over the festive period. I hope you arrive back at work refreshed and ready for an awesome 2022.

Warm regards,

Association Hackathon Outputs Released

The outputs of our recent association hackathon have been released.

A hackathon is a great way to generate a solution to a problem in a short timeframe. We worked with hackathon specialist Joanne Jacobs from Disrupters Co to develop and deliver a online hackathon for associations.

Thirty amazing association professionals volunteered. They split into six groups who each addressed a specific challenge. You can check out the interesting outputs they generated in the resources library of the Answers for Associations community. Just look for:

• Choosing an Association Management System.
• Creating a Minimal Budget Public Awareness Raising Campaign for Associations.
• How to Successfully Launch and Develop and Online Community.
• Monetising Online Communities.
• Shifting Member Engagement Frameworks from Traditional to Contemporary Operating Models.

Thanks so much to everyone who participated. It was great to see such stimulating and interesting conversations and solutions generated. This is something we would definitely do again as it was an opportunity to intensely address very specific issues so stay tuned for other opportunities to get involved.

If you are interested in running something similar for your organisation, I recommend reaching out to Joanne from Disrupters Co on She was great to work with.

The Walking Dead: Beware the Zombie Member

(By Colin Perry, Optimum Contact) When COVID-19 hit in March this year, many Australians were forced to change the way they live due to increased financial pressures as a result of losing their job or taking a pay cut. For some, this may have meant cutting down on extra luxuries but for others, it might also mean they reconsider renewing   membership to their professional body.

Many Australian businesses who might normally sponsor membership and ongoing professional development for their team members have “pivoted” away from that support or expense. While the Government has injected a considerable amount of financial assistance to businesses, those funds have, in the main, been utilised for job retention, not discretionary spending.  

Further to this, the recent Association Economic Outlook Report published by Marketing General Incorporated discovered that 69% of associations have seen an increase in engagement from their members following the recession/pandemic, yet 39% of associations are still anticipating a decline in membership over the next 12 months. The decline is likely due to these businesses no longer funding memberships for their staff.

So, what does this mean for your association when your members are relying on the government’s financial assistance payments?

Who is a Zombie Member?

A zombie member is a member who hasn’t renewed their membership but are technically still members for a grace period or, in some cases until they resign in writing. Their membership still exists but isn’t active, (alive but dead if you will).

It’s important to monitor Zombie memberships closely because:

  • They are not normally active or add value to the community
  • They may present to the general public as active financial members using association logo’s and expired post nominal which could damage the associations hard won professional reputation.
  • They do not participate in professional development to maintain standards which could reflect poorly on the sector
  • Their behavior or non-committed attitude can be infectious. 

Preventing Zombie Members

As an association, it’s important to remember that you exist for the good of the members and the sector. Strong support and advocacy, an active engaged community and strong values proposition will help ensure success for you and your members and generate the much-needed revenue to help to keep those important wheels turning.

Therefore, in order to keep your members interested, you need to give them a reason to continue with their membership, even when they’re cutting other expenses out of their budget. Your membership, your community and their connection to it, is paramount, not ‘a nice to have’ – be relevant.  

At Optimum Contact, we help associations find meaningful solutions to maintain active members – How do we do that?

Optimum Contact’s Top Tips:

  • Focus on loyalty

Consider providing special options for longstanding members to maintain their loyalty and to show yours. These might include flexible payment plans, a hardship discount, negotiating shorter membership terms, or placing memberships on hold for a period of time. You can also recognise their contribution and off-set membership fees with value-added activities such as writing for your magazine, presenting a webinar or other CPD options that allow for participation, recognition and continuance in the community as well as mentoring of less experienced members.

Some people forget that membership to a professional association, peak body or union that is directly connected to their primary job is tax deductible – a really valuable thing to remind members of when they are weighing up their options.

  • Maintain the connection

Even if a member chooses not to renew their membership right now, that does not mean never again. Associations should seek an opt-in for future communication so that they can keep their finger on the pulse and continue the valuable membership conversations. Members may quickly realise that they miss the association, the resources and connections to like-minded people – a well-timed “we miss you” call campaign and offer may be able to revive a zombie member.  

Remember, it’s best to maintain the relationship with an active member than to revive a Zombie. Member care calls, especially at this time when many are feeling isolated can mean a lot to members and avoids the “I only hear from you when you want money” stake to the heart.

Optimum Contact can assist your association with member outreach and report back to you with the information we receive.

  • Consider their true needs

In order to maintain loyal members, you need to consider what their priorities are and what they want from their association. A broad-brush approach to a 10% discount or theme park passes in a state they can’t travel to is not going to be valuable to your members.  

When was the last time you asked members what they really want?

Taking the Next Step

Optimum Contact can assist in strengthening your connection with your members and retaining loyal customers. Our team love to have meaningful conversations with members and know how to build the rapport that will secure the outcome your association needs.

By Colin Perry Managing Director of Optimum Contact, an Australian-based company that helps connect professional associations, not-for-profit organisations and unions with their members to drive engagement, value and revenue. Contact Colin Perry and the team from Optimum Contact on 1300 017 293 or Read more at

VIDEO: “Reshaping Associations – The Impact of the Pandemic on Membership Models”

In this webinar Belinda will discuss how the gradual shift from traditional membership models (service provider models) to community membership models (including subscription models) has accelerated with the pandemic. This session will cover the major factors impacting change and how different are adapting their membership models to the new operating environment.

Watch the video.

WHITEPAPER: Association Apocalypse

The operating landscape of associations is undergoing a seismic shift. Associations need to act now to ensure they can navigate these shifts to emerge stronger and more relevant than ever before. In my new whitepaper, Association Apocalypse, you can read more about the:

  • Six fundamental shifts occurring in the association operating landscape,
  • Three key models associations will need to re-invent, and
  • Eleven core operational enablers associations must get right along the way.

This whitepaper has been designed to assist association leaders to understand the scale of the change coming and create a platform for productive discussions within their associations about appropriate pathways forward. If you have more questions please feel free to contact us to find out how we can assist.

Read the whitepaper.

BOOK: Membership Managers Handbook (2018 Edition)

Are you looking to effectively manage a membership program for your organization? Look no further than The Membership Managers Handbook! This comprehensive guide covers all the essential aspects of membership management, from acquiring and retaining members to developing member benefits and creating a successful membership strategy.

Filled with best practices and real-world examples, The Membership Managers Handbook is a valuable resource for anyone responsible for managing a membership program. It includes tips on how to engage and retain members, as well as strategies for growth and innovation.

Whether you’re a seasoned membership manager or new to the role, The Membership Managers Handbook is the perfect tool to help you succeed.

Download the Membership Managers’ Handbook free of charge.

WHITEPAPER: Membership is Dead?

A number of powerful generational, cultural and economic forces are colliding to create a perfect storm that will make the next 5-20 years some of the toughest ever faced by associations. Associations who don’t adapt face a slow decline into obscurity as they are replaced by newer, more innovative, less bureaucratically challenged, less change resistant competitors. While the idea of membership will continue, the antiquated models of recruiting, retaining and engaging members cannot survive in an increasingly challenging and ever-changing operating environment … read the full whitepaper.

P&CS Face Demise As Structures Alienate Younger Members

P&Cs face demise as structures alienate younger members. P&Cs need to adapt to the changing nature of membership associations. Those that do will emerge stronger and more powerful than every before. It’s time to focus on developing a powerful sense of purpose and developing ad hoc volunteering opportunities that cater to all parents (even those who don’t have the time to show up) … read the full article on ABC News.

Do You Know Your Member Retention Rate?

It is impossible to make informed decisions regarding your membership strategy without knowing your membership statistics. At the most basic level you should know your Retention Rate, Growth Rate, Loss Rate and Average Tenure – by each membership segment. If you don’t know how to work out these statistics, please download The Membership Managers’ Handbook to get more information on how to do it.