In the vibrant world of associations, the term “components” is used to denote the various subgroups that exist within an association. These may take the form of branches, specific interest groups, or communities of practice.
There are four types of components that can coexist within a single association. Each type is designed to help different members realise the unique value they seek from the association.
Not all types of components are relevant to every association, and it often becomes a strategic choice to determine which ones align best with the association’s goals and its members’ needs.
Let’s delve into the four main types of components:
- Regional Components: These refer to parts of an association grounded in specific geographic areas. Structured often as chapters, branches, or divisions within a larger national or international association, these components cater to regional interests and needs while maintaining cohesion and unity at the national or international level. For example, a national teachers’ association might have state branches, each focusing on issues pertinent to teachers in that state. An emerging trend is the increased use of digital tools to foster connection and collaboration within these components, breaking down geographical boundaries and enhancing regional activities.
- Demographic Components: These components cater to the specific needs or interests of a subgroup within the association, based on shared characteristics, interests, or demographics such as gender, race, or age. For example, within a large engineering association, there might be a group specifically for women engineers. This subgroup offers a platform to address unique challenges, share experiences, and advocate for issues relevant to the subgroup within the larger professional community. Recently, there’s been a growing recognition of the importance of diversity and inclusion, leading to a rise in these demographic-focused components.
- Expertise-Based Components: Focusing on specific technical or professional areas within a broader field, these components cater to the diverse specialisations in a profession. For example, a medical association might have groups for cardiologists, neurologists, paediatricians, etc. These groups enable a deep focus on specialised areas, encouraging the sharing of advanced knowledge, best practices, and advocacy for issues specific to those technical areas. In response to the rapid pace of industry-specific developments, these components are becoming more dynamic and adaptive, frequently evolving to accommodate emerging trends and new areas of expertise.
- Operational Components: These components fulfill specific purposes or roles within the association. They are instrumental in carrying out the core functions of the association. For example, the Board is typically responsible for oversight and strategic direction. Committees may be set up to handle specific tasks such as advocacy, policy, governance, finance, etc. These groups collaborate to ensure the association operates effectively and achieves its mission and goals. An ongoing trend is the growing importance of transparency and member engagement in these operational components, as members seek greater involvement in the governance and strategic planning of their associations.
A strong component strategic is key to driving the strength and versatility of an association, making it capable of addressing a broad array of member needs and industry challenges.
Identifying which components best align with your association’s purpose is key to driving strong member engagement, positive member experiences, and sustainable success for your association.
At SMS we specialise in helping associations to build sustainable membership programs. This includes support to ensure your membership model and component strategy is aligned to your purpose. If you are looking for support to optimise your membership programs, please contact us to set up a time to speak further.