Looking ahead. What’s next for association components?

We’re halfway through this unusual and, often unsettling, year where we’ve had to regroup and rethink how we do things. On July 16, association pros gathered – virtually of course – to share what lessons have been learned, what ideas have been tried, and what solutions were found along the way. And to brainstorm on what’s next. You can listen below to the full conversation and/or read the quick recap provided here.

What we’ve learned:

People are everything and reserves are critical! When chapter leaders looked at this crisis as an opportunity rather than a disaster, they have been able to consider things they never thought of before building on the value proposition in a different way. The crisis also emphasizes the need to have reserves on hand.

Chapters are in a position to pivot. Chapters that found a way to continue to deliver the value to the members by focusing on members’ current priorities and needs have found success. Flexibility is key.

Geographic lines are blurring: Virtual education is crossing geographic boundaries that were seldom crossed before. The question is how can associations leverage this while being respectful to their chapters and their individual needs?

Local is critical: Local member involvement is still critical especially in relation to local advocacy, problem solving and community issues.

Tradition isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. The traditional structures of chapters are not supporting the changes, and chapters that can’t adapt and create new value for members may not survive.

How can we act?

Ramp up leadership development. Build out the standard training to long term program with ongoing micro or smaller learning opportunities.  Give leaders more access to information that sharpens their skills and gets them to think differently.

Create an education strategy. Create an education strategy for your association that appreciates the blurring of geography and finds ways to incorporate the learning offered at the chapter level into a broader education “calendar”. Minimize competition; maximize collaboration.

Ramp up tech/admin support. Offer master accounts on virtual platforms and extended licenses for web platforms. Offer resources, webinars etc. on how to create engaging meetings.

Celebrate. Take time to pause and highlight the activities chapters have done. Create videos, awards, shoutouts etc. to celebrate your chapters.

Thoughts on Common Challenge: How can chapters maintain a strong sponsorship program, which is critical to the financial strength of chapters? Good news is that sponsors are interested and want to be invited to the table. Stress that this is a great opportunity to reach a broader audience through virtual engagement. Suggested ways to get them involved included …

  • Inviting sponsors to serve as moderators and/or lead a discussion on takeaways from a program.
  • Asking sponsors to moderate a happy hour discussion
  • Creating a challenge where people take pictures, post, get points and may win a prize; sponsors can be listed/promoted as part of the challenge.
  • Featuring a member who has used a sponsor’s product and can share their personal success story with using the product.


Be sure to listen to the full conversation, especially the last few minutes. And of course, feel free to share with us your questions, advice and “aha” moments. We want to know!