As AI becomes a more significant part of everyday business, it is crucial to grasp how it works and how to use it effectively. Association Management (AM) services deal with a diverse range of tasks and AI is certainly making a splash in several areas, bringing both excitement and challenges. Even though the future will surely bring more AI developments, here are our key takeaways on how AI can simplify AM operations and what to watch out for.  

Opportunities of AI in Association Management 

  • AI-pilot for automated tasks

Undoubtedly, one of the most significant advantages of AI is its ability to streamline routine tasks, saving time and minimising errors. This applies to all businesses, but for Association Management, it will be a lifesaver for time-consuming manual tasks, such as drafting meeting notes, synthesising information for internal and external reporting, editing newsletters, and more. AI tools will also automate certain administrative tasks for membership management, facilitating activities like invoicing, distributing surveys, and sending reminders. 

  • AI as the content muse

AM requires extensive content creation and curation for its members and external audiences. AI tools can assist in this process by summarising relevant information, suggesting writing improvements, and even helping to generate ideas when you face a creative block. They can also provide assistance to those who are not working in their native languages (and also to those who are!), helping with grammar and enhancing wording.  

Digital communication is another essential component of AM services. In times of inspiration drought or in crunch time, AI tools are also ready to assist in creating short and precise content for social media posts tailored to your needs, as well as producing remarkable visuals and infographics. 

  • AI as the data master

Trade associations serve as focal points for data-gathering for their respective industries, yet compiling and analysing the data is not always easy or fast. AI can analyse vast amounts of data, including data linked to industry trends and membership. It can delve into member interactions and behaviors, providing insights to enhance engagement strategies. Though AI can process such data, it is important to invest in AI analysis capacities within the team, making sure that someone manages the process effectively and avoids liabilities or privacy risks. Such analysis empowers associations to develop their strategies, and accordingly, helps them stay agile and responsive in a dynamic business landscape. 

Challenges in Embracing AI 

  • Trust issues

AI is impressive but not infallible. Some AI models may occasionally produce what is known as ‘hallucinations’ – results that deviate from their training data. So, the data you receive might not be accurate enough. This can be prevented by ensuring you provide reliable data and by being precise in the prompts you assign. More specifically, prompts should contain a warning suggesting to refrain to generate an output if the AI does not know the answer to prevent hallucinations. Researchers are currently working on reducing hallucinations by using what is called retrieval augmented generations. Until then though, being aware of this limitation, associations should always ensure a human double-checks and cross-references the information provided by AI! 

  • AI as the student

Getting the best results from AI tools means training them carefully. This involves asking the right questions (several times) and teaching the AI until it gives the correct outcome consistently. Many AI tools tailor their responses to the tone, context or previous inputs you provide. This means that we, as humans, must invest time in teaching AI about specific topics to enhance its accuracy. To do so effectively, we should follow AI models’ recommendations for structuring a prompt.  

  • The Human Touch

We humans are still here, and our personal touch is essential. For association (management) executives, the most important goal is to ensure members’ satisfaction and to stay relevant for them to grow and retain membership. While AI can accomplish many things, it cannot replicate (yet!) the personal touch and trust that human interactions provide. Therefore, all content and work generated by AI should be checked before it is presented to the members. The solution to this challenge is to use AI to streamline specific tasks, allowing you to concentrate on nurturing member relationships. 

Ultimately, learning how to integrate AI in our business is ‘in’, worrying about whether it will replace our jobs is ‘out’. We should stay tuned for new developments and improvements to the existing ones. For now, we need to watch out for the drawbacks while maximising potential. That’s why, after writing this article, I will now instruct ChatGPT to check the grammar. 

Zeynep Yildizeli, Senior Association Management Consultant