Non-for-profit is just a tax status, not a business model.”

Associations can -and should- be managed as efficiently as businesses and any profits generated re-invested in the people, programmes and services to members. Here are a couple of tips to apply for optimal association management…

01 Remember who you serve.

Associations exist to serve their members. Whenever in doubt about what to do next, remember who you serve and do reach out to your members to make sure you stay the course.

02 Vision.

Does your association have a clear vision? Do you, the members and the staff know what the aspiration of the association is? And if you do, make sure you revise your vision statement, on a regular basis as circumstances evolve.

03 Mission.

Make sure to translate your vision into a clear mission, set objectives and define how they will be reached. And yes, your mission also needs to be revised on a regular basis.

04 Strategic plan.

Once you know who you serve and why, articulate that into a clear strategic plan, involve your key stakeholders to develop it, identify ambassadors within your leadership team, the staff and members to ensure buy-in, and yes, review it a on regular basis as the environment in which your members operate changes so their association needs to remain relevant

05 Listen.

How well do you know what keeps your members awake at night? What developments are likely to impact them? What do they expect from their association? Whether they are satisfied from the benefits they get? There are many ways to collect their input. Depending on the size of the organisations, this ranges from 1:1 calls to well-drafted (non-invasive and not too long) polls.

06 You are not alone!

Whatever your association’s mission and vision are, chances are other organisations may have similar interests. Consider mapping them, identifying areas of cooperation and join forces. Start small. A baby-step is a step! 

07 Automate.

Did you know that according to recent studies, up to one third of your activities could be automated? Freeing up time for what you would really rather do! Think about your dues renewal or onboarding processes, social media activities such as retweets and paid ads, or the management of your mailing list to name a few!

08 Document your policies and procedures.

Consider documenting all your policies and procedures; while tedious at first, you will soon realise that this will also help you dedicate more time to value-added activities and ensure business continuity in the association and facilitate team handover. While you are at it, consider documenting your institutional memory as well for the benefit of your successors.

09 Communicate… on social media too!

Twitter and LinkedIn are not just for corporates that have large communications teams. You can be very effective at pushing your messages across. Get inspired by what others do. Have a communication strategy that supports your vision and mission and is aligned with any (policy, industry, sector, professional, etc.) major developments.

10 Money, money, money.

Now that all your ducks are in a row, if you think you do not have enough resources, think again! There is more to revenue than just membership dues. Be creative about that event, report, additional service, partners or mind you … your membership categories. When was the last time you revisited them?