We’re big fans of the Race to Relevance by Harrison Coerver and Mary Byers, CAE. There is a lot of wisdom packed in that book, all aimed at helping associations make radical changes in order to be as pertinent as possible to their constituencies.
From bloated boards to languid committees, from old member programs to services that have just plain-old lived out their lifecycles, the authors proffer some great advice for cutting the cord and getting relevant now.
Advice on how to be relevant
Here at enSYNC, the chapter that resonates most with us is the chapter on technology. While it might be too gloomy to say “invest in technology or die,” there is some urgency in what we say. It is too easy for any organization to become irrelevant if it does not keep informed and keep pace with technology.
And the reason is this: a lot of what you’re considering in the way of technology is already well-entrenched in usage by your members and their industries. (A few examples for you: flawless ecommerce, inbound marketing, well-kept websites, digital creativity tools, cloud-based storage.)
Unfortunately, often due to the anemic budgets we seem to have in the nonprofit sector, associations have been slow on the uptick where technology is concerned. Many are not investing fully in the services, processes, software, and analysis needed to keep their organizations vibrant and healthy.
Are you preparing responsive web pages? Are you performing behavioral analytics on your members? Have you tried a perpetual membership plan? Are you tracking points of engagement? Have you provided training on an annual or ongoing basis – even to those staff members who have been in place for years and know the system like the back of their hand? Do you know what cloud computing is and are you using systems in the cloud? Do you know when it is advantageous to do so? Have you kept up with your software updates and upgrades?
It’s overwhelming. We know. It requires time and investment and effort. Unfortunately for the smaller associations, keeping up when you are a small staff organization is nearly impossible – yet somehow you’ve just got to do it. Usually it’s done by finding the right partners. These are companies who can advise you on software, others who can maintain your computer systems, and perhaps yet even others to maintain your website.
Don’t let technology get the better of you.
As I note in the video, associations which don't keep pace with technology will find that someone else will sashay in and take advantage of the gap. The value proposition of the organization is diminished.
That’s why we’ve got to be on our guard, to preserve the purpose of our organization to the betterment of our industries and professions. We’ve got to be sure we can:
- positively affect the pocketbooks of our members
- provide them value
- advocate on their behalf
- push the profession and industry forward
- provide meaningful connections and networking
- communicate in the best and most relevant ways
The answer to doing all of that is technology.