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.

Sustainability

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,
Belinda 

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 http://associationsbeyondcovid.com/

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

VIDEO: Creating a Pandemic Management Strategy for Your Association

This is a recording of the 45 minute webinar run on Friday 27 March. In the association sector, the wide-spread cancellation of events is having a major impact on the financial sustainability of many associations. We are already experiencing a massive flow across the economy as a myriad of jobs and other opportunities that associations support are being lost. Association staff are having to grapple with cancelling major events (some at very short notice), moving CPD online, and managing member concerns. “Business as usual” isn’t an option. Most of the people I’ve heard from are concerned about balancing helping members with the need to ensure their financial sustainability. Without a doubt, these are challenging times. But now is also an opportunity for associations to fulfill their primary purpose by being a beacon of hope and support for their communities. In this webinar, Belinda discusses the practical steps associations can take to effectively assist their members and secure the sustainability of their association.

Click here to watch the video.

Click here for a PDF copy of the slides.

TEMPLATE: Free Pandemic Management Strategy Template for Associations

Business as usual is not an option in 2020. Associations wanting to navigate through this crisis need a clear, simple, and focused strategy that delivers powerful value for members while also securing the sustainability of the association. To assist with this, we’ve developed a free Pandemic Strategy for Associations template for associations to use as a starting point for developing their plan for this crisis. Click here to download your copy.

These are the times associations are made for

The impact of COVID-19 is being felt by everyone throughout our community.

We are all dealing with challenges we could not have imagined just a month ago. The whole toilet paper shortage was funny at first. Then I ran out of paper. It got dramatically less funny with each additional store I visited. It became deadly serious when it was apparent that many of the most vulnerable in our society were not able to access this essential item.

In the association section, the wide-spread cancellation of events is having a major impact on the financial sustainability of many associations. We are already experiencing a massive flow across the economy as a myriad of jobs and other opportunities that associations support are being lost. Association staff are having to grapple with cancelling major events (some at very short notice), moving CPD online, and managing the concerns of members.

Download a free Pandemic Management Strategy Template

Register for the free webinar on Creating A Pandemic Management Strategy

“Business as usual” isn’t an option. Most of the association leaders I’ve heard from are concerned about how to balance helping members with the need to ensure their association’s financial sustainability.

Without a doubt, these are challenging times. But now is also an opportunity for associations to fulfil their primary purpose by being a beacon of hope and support for their communities. Associations are doing this by:  

  • Demonstrating strong leadership – People are scared. Their businesses, livelihoods and loved ones are at risk. Through your daily actions and communications give them the confidence that you are in control of the situation.
  • Being the source of truth – People need up-to-date information on the issues that affect them. Be the source of truth by proactively gathering and validating information – then share it quickly on all possible mediums. Become the hub of information on what’s happening. Sharing the government’s latest health information with added messaging as it pertains to your members is a great start.
  • Facilitate connections between members – Your community don’t just want to be passive recipients of information. Provide a mechanism that enables members to share their stories, ask for help, and offer support. This could be something as simple as a Facebook group specific to the pandemic.
  • Actively manage your cashflow – If you don’t have the reserves to carry you through, now is the time to work on your cashflows. Negotiate with the tax office for a delayed payment on your BAS, remove unnecessary upcoming costs, and organise payment plans for other bills. Take the opportunity to shed costly programs that are no longer relevant to members.
  • Deliver tangible value to members that need it most – Identify the most significant challenges each of your member segments must overcome in the coming months. Develop and deliver solutions for those members who need it most. Potentially, there may be opportunities to generate new revenue streams from developing innovative solutions to contribute to you being able to achieve this sustainably.
  • Plan your sponsorship recovery strategy now – Your sponsors will be experiencing the same negative impact as your association and are currently pulling back. When they return to the market their objectives will be different, and you will need to adapt your offering accordingly. There will be significant opportunities available for those who have tailored solutions to answer these needs ready to go. You should already be planning your sponsorship recovery strategy.

There are some silver linings to this crisis. For us, it’s a re-evaluation of how we deliver our services. Jumping on a plane is not an option right now, so we’ve had to make changes. We’ve supported clients via video, teleconference, and email occasionally in the past. Now, with social distancing an imperative, we’ve moved all our services to these platforms for the time being, and it’s working well so far.

If you’d like to talk to us about sponsorship, partnerships, strategy, revenue generation, or membership for your association (or even just have a chat about things) email belinda@smsonline.net.au and we can arrange a time for a chat.

There are tough times ahead and by working together we will get through this. I hope that you, too, will find your silver lining amongst everything that is happening.