Common Pitfalls To Avoid When Developing Your Associations Purpose and Vision

A clear sense of purpose and vision is essential for the success and growth of your organisation. However, it can be easy to fall into common pitfalls when it comes to developing these important guiding principles. Here are some of the common mistakes to avoid when seeking to create a purpose and vision that truly resonates with your members and stakeholders:

Keep it succinct.

Keep your vision and purpose statements short and powerful. No one is going to be motivated by a vision and purpose that requires a cup of tea and a lie down halfway through.  

Don’t make assumptions about your members’ values and goals.

It’s important to engage your membership in the process of defining your purpose and vision. This means soliciting their input and feedback, and being open to their ideas and perspectives.

Avoid being too broad or vague.

A purpose or vision statement that is too broad or vague will lack the necessary focus and direction to guide your organisation’s actions. Be specific and clear about what you hope to achieve, and how you plan to get there.

Don’t neglect to consider the needs of your stakeholders.

There may be people who are not currently members as your existing purpose is unclear or mis-aligned. Your purpose and vision should not just reflect the desires of your membership, but also take into account the needs and concerns of other stakeholders, such as staff, partners, and the broader community.

Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo.

A purpose or vision statement should inspire and motivate, and sometimes that means going against the grain or thinking outside the box. Don’t be afraid to be bold and innovative in your approach.

Create a narrative.

Make sure that your purpose and vision are aligned and complementary. The vision statement is the end state you want to achieve and the purpose is how you are getting there. Statements that fit together create a cohesive and consistent direction for your organisation.

Don’t forget to review and revise.

As your organisation grows and evolves, so too should your purpose and vision. Regularly review and revise these guiding principles to ensure that they remain relevant and meaningful to your organisation and its stakeholders.

Don’t neglect to communicate and live your purpose and vision.

Once you have developed your purpose and vision, it’s important to clearly communicate them to your members and stakeholders. But more importantly, you must actively work to live these principles in everything you do as an organisation.

If you need a briefing on the future of associations for your board or a facilitator to ensure the success of your next strategic planning process, please contact Belinda Moore.

Practical Tips for Successfully Implementing Your Association’s Strategic Plan

Developing a strategic plan is an important step for associations looking to achieve their purpose and goals, but implementing the plan can be a challenge. Here are some practical tips for successfully implementing your association’s strategic plan:

Communicate the plan

Clearly communicate the strategic plan to all stakeholders, including staff, members, and board members. Consider holding informational meetings or creating a summary document to ensure that everyone understands the plan and their role in its implementation.

Assign ownership

Assign specific tasks and responsibilities to individuals or teams to ensure that the plan is implemented effectively. Consider using project management tools or software to track progress and ensure that tasks are completed on time.

Set clear goals and targets

Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals and targets to help guide the implementation process and measure progress. Regularly review and update these goals as needed.

Monitor progress

Regularly monitor progress and track key performance indicators (KPIs) to ensure that the plan is on track. Consider setting up dashboards or metrics to track progress and identify areas for improvement.

Stay flexible

Be prepared to adapt and adjust the plan as needed, as circumstances and priorities may change over time. Consider holding regular check-ins or review meetings to assess progress and make any necessary adjustments.

Seek feedback

Involve all stakeholders in the implementation process and encourage them to provide feedback and ideas for improvement. Consider holding focus groups or surveys to gather insights and identify any challenges or opportunities that may arise.

Celebrate successes

Regularly celebrate successes and milestones along the way to keep momentum and motivation high. Consider holding events or recognising team members for their contributions to the implementation process.

If you need a briefing on associations for your board, or a facilitator to ensure the success of your next strategic planning process, email Belinda Moore for more information on how we can assist.

Setting Realistic Goals for Your Strategic Plan

Goals are an essential part of the strategic planning process for associations, providing a roadmap for the organisation’s direction and priorities. Goals can be classified as either strategic or operational, with strategic goals focusing on long-term outcomes and operational goals focusing on the day-to-day activities needed to achieve those outcomes. Setting realistic and achievable goals is crucial for the success of the organisation, as it helps to focus efforts, track progress, and measure success. Here are some tips for creating realistic strategic planning goals for your association, with examples for each:

Start with a thorough analysis.

Before setting goals, it is important to conduct a thorough analysis of the organisation’s current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. For example, an association might conduct a member survey to identify areas for improvement or gather feedback on current programs and services.

Set SMART goals.

SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) are clear and concise, making them easier to track and achieve. For example, a SMART goal for an association might be to “increase membership by 20% within the next fiscal year by launching a new member recruitment campaign and offering a discounted membership rate for new members.

Involve key stakeholders.

Engage key stakeholders, such as board members, staff, and members, in the goal-setting process to ensure that the goals align with the needs and priorities of the organisation. For example, an association might hold focus groups with members to gather feedback on potential goals and priorities.

Prioritise and focus.

It is important to prioritise goals and focus on a few key areas at a time to ensure that the organisation can make progress and achieve success. For example, an association might prioritise increasing membership and improving member engagement as top goals for the year, rather than trying to tackle multiple goals at once.

Be realistic.

Avoid setting unrealistic goals that are not achievable within the given timeframe. It’s better to set smaller, achievable goals that can be accomplished and build momentum for the organisation. For example, rather than setting a goal to double membership within a year, an association might set a more realistic goal to increase membership by 10% within the year.

Set a timeline.

Be sure to set a timeline for achieving goals to ensure that progress is being made and to keep the organisation on track. For example, an association might set quarterly benchmarks for achieving membership goals, with a final goal to be reached at the end of the fiscal year.

Review and adjust.

Regularly review progress and adjust goals as needed to ensure that they remain relevant and achievable. For example, an association might review membership goals mid-year and make adjustments to the recruitment campaign or member benefits if necessary to better meet the target.

By following these seven tips, associations can set realistic and achievable strategic planning goals.

If you need a briefing on associations for your board or a facilitator to ensure the success of your next strategic planning process, please contact Belinda Moore to speak further.

The Ingredients for Successful Strategic Planning

A good strategic plan acts are a roadmap to the future of your association. If you want that roadmap to be as clear and easy to follow as possible, ensure you have considered the following: 

Clearly defined goals and objectives

It is important for associations to have clearly defined goals and objectives that are aligned with their purpose and vision. This helps to ensure that resources are being used effectively and that progress can be measured. For example, an association that is focused on promoting sustainability within its industry may set a goal to reduce its carbon emissions by 50% within the next five years.

Stakeholder engagement

Involving stakeholders in the strategic planning process can help to gather valuable insights and perspective and build buy-in and support for the plan. For example, an association that is considering implementing a new membership model may seek feedback from its members and other stakeholders to ensure that the model meets their needs and expectations.

Data and analytics

Using data and analytics in the strategic planning process can help associations make informed decisions and better understand the needs and preferences of their stakeholders. For example, an association that is considering expanding its services may use data and analytics to identify areas of greatest need and to develop targeted strategies for reaching new audiences.

Flexibility and agility

In a rapidly changing world, it is important for associations to be flexible and agile to respond to new challenges and opportunities. This means that strategic plans should be designed to be adaptable and responsive to change, rather than being rigid and inflexible. For example, an association that is facing challenges due to the rapid changes within their industry may need to adapt its plans to continue serving its members effectively.


As sustainability becomes an increasingly critical issue, it is important for associations to consider the long-term impact of their actions and to incorporate sustainable practices into their operations. For example, an association that is focused on protecting the environment may set a goal to reduce its use of single-use plastics and to increase its use of renewable energy sources.

Diversity and inclusion

Including diverse perspectives in the strategic planning process can help associations better understand the needs and preferences of their stakeholders and promote inclusivity within their industries. For example, an association that is seeking to increase the diversity of its membership may set a goal to increase the representation of underrepresented groups within its leadership and committees.

Digital transformation

In the digital age, it is important for associations to have a strong online presence and to be able to communicate effectively with their stakeholders through digital channels. For example, an association that is seeking to increase its membership may set a goal to improve its website and social media presence to reach new audiences and provide resources to its members.

By incorporating these key elements into their strategic planning processes, associations can position themselves to achieve their goals and better serve their stakeholders.

If you need a briefing on associations for your board or a facilitator to ensure the success of your next strategic planning process, please hit reply and let me know. I would be happy to discuss how I can assist in more detail.

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,

WEBINAR: How to Create a Strategic Plan that Really Works

A great strategic plan conveys a compelling shared vision of the future of your association – as well as a clear pathway to get there. It is a fabulous tool for motivating your Board, staff, members, and other stakeholders. It also ensures your strategy creates a tangible and long-lasting positive impact. For more than 25 years, Belinda has been refining a process for association strategic planning. In this session, she will share her bespoke process and provide you with all the information you need to run the most successful strategic planning session ever. This session is great for those wanting the insights necessary to run their own plan, or those seeking to better understand modern strategic planning processes so they can better direct their facilitator.

Click here to Watch the Webinar.

Click here to Download the Slides.

ARTICLE: COVID-19: A Catalyst for Positive Change

Associations are a critical element of a successful democratic process. They are a useful mechanism for people to act collectively to achieve shared goals. The specific goals vary from association to association but include outcomes such as:

  • Proactively influencing their legislative landscape.
  • Accessing services and support specific to the needs of the collective.
  • Enhancing the skill and education of people within the collective.
  • Connecting with the rest of the collective community for mutual benefit.
  • Advancing a positive impact on a cause shared by the collective.
  • Delivering or facilitating services on behalf of the collective.

For this reason, a strong association sector has a direct impact on the success of the economy as well as the livelihood and well-being of many Australians. It is important that associations themselves are strong so they can continue to nurture the professions, industries, and causes that will drive the recovery and help those affected.

Yet many of these organisations were already struggling prior to the advent of the COVID-19 crisis.

Over the past 15 years our society has been transforming in ways that have fundamentally altered the operating landscape of associations. The rapid evolution of technology, the fragmentation of communication, and major generational shifts to name just a few. 

Prior to the crisis there was already a desperate need for associations to innovate – not just to thrive but to survive.

Unfortunately, many associations have been hindered by internal inertia, legacy issues, and change-resistant organisational cultures. The fundamental changes required were stymied and many associations were already struggling to varying degrees. As associations started to lose sight of their core purpose – and how to fulfil this – competitors began moving in to fill the emerging gaps that associations were not nimble enough to fil. 

The COVID-19 crisis created a catalyst for change that could not be ignored.

For many associations, the crisis has provided an opportunity to rapidly overcome internal or perceived barriers and create fundamental positive change within their organisations that will enable them to create a much higher level of positive impact on their members into the future.

The idea that the long-term impact of this crisis will be positive for the association sector is backed up by new research.

A comprehensive report on the current and future impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the association sector found more than 50% of the 426 associations surveyed believed the impact would be positive over the medium to longer term.

Many respondents reported they were already seeing positive results due to the significant innovation required by associations to adapt.

COVID-19 has been an opportunity for associations to gain a clarity of purpose that has enabled many to quickly enhance their relevance to members.

While not all associations will survive this crisis, those who have taken the opportunity to adapt will emerge stronger and better positioned to create a positive impact on members than ever before. 

Other findings include:

  • There will be permanent changes in the way associations run their events with a significant shift to hybrid and online events, as well as changes to the way face-to-face events run.
  • Many reported their virtual and hybrid AGMs were more successful than their previous face-to-face meetings and they would now be looking to retain that format into the future.
  • A skilled leadership and staff team, supported by a nimble organisational culture, were the three most powerful contributing factors to an associations’ ability to navigate the crisis effectively.
  • There is a permanent shift to remote working models with only 10% of respondents intending to revert to how things operated previously. The vast majority indicated they would be more amendable to working from home arrangements in future. 4% of those surveyed said the shift to working from home would be permanent and they would not be returning to the office.
  • Associations operating in industries and professionals badly affected by the crisis are expecting a negative impact on member retention this year.
  • Despite most associations having reserves sufficient for at least 3 months, Jobkeeper was an important factor in the ability of associations to adapt during the crisis. Many respondents are concerned about the impact of the removal of Jobkeeper on their members, the economy, and their associations.

You can download a full copy of this free research report at

RESEARCH: COVID-19 and Beyond: Lessons for Associations from the COVID-19 Crisis

426 associations participated in this comprehensive research project that provides insight into the current and future impact of the COVID-19 crisis on associations. Learn what associations did, what they learned, and what insights we need to integrate into our future planning processes. The report includes a “what did we learn” section to enable you to gain a quick overview of what you need to know when planning for the future.

Download your PDF copy at COVID-19 and Beyond: Lessons for Associations from the COVID-19 Crisis Report.

Click here to Watch the Webinar Here.

Click here to Download the Slides to go with the webinar.

WHITEPAPER – Rise! Empowering Australian workers through the collective spirit and collaborative energy of unions.

This pandemic crisis will gravely impact the health and livelihoods of many. However, it also creates the need to build union capacities even more pressing. This paper, written by Belinda Moore and Chris Walton, explores the current landscape for unions in Australia and outlines innovative pathways forward for unions to more effectively empower Australian workers.

Download the whitepaper

Watch the presentation