Friday, July 6, 2012

The"Perfect: Organization

When talking to potential association clients, I often ask them what do you think would make your organization "perfect?" They often struggle with their answer, as if they haven't had the time to even ponder what "perfect" would be like.  When I worked at small association, I can tell you to make my organization perfect I would have liked:
  • Additional organizational buy-in from senior leadership.  
  • A way to track members engagement through an actual membership database.
  • A bigger budget. 
My wish list may not be different from some of my clients, but the truth is that each organization is different.  The problem with many associations is that they have done things a certain way for so long and they are reluctant to change.  This was the case with my previous non-profit (trade) association, the president was from the industry.  The key thing that we were missing out on, is not a unique problem to associations -- engaging the younger generation of members.  Each suggestion that wasn't a print ad, press release, or direct mail campaign was met with a great deal of resistance.  If something isn't working do you keep doing it? At this association, yes was the answer.

We've heard it a million times, with the economic crisis members are changing roles more frequently.  Tenure at a company is decreasing and when people move it's hard to keep track of them on something like a Microsoft Access or Excel "database."  Believe it or not, unless your trained to create and manage databases out of Access they probably won't do what you want them to.  There are many databases out there on the market, the key question you have to ask is "how much database do we need?" The company I currently work for creates a relational database so you keep track of their employment history, but more importantly their relationship with your association.  If I had only had a database, maybe things would be different? The association I worked for no longer exists and merged with another to stay relevant. 

As an association we often dream of what we could do if we only had the budget, and this is a curse, but it's also a blessing.  Why? You learn to be creative on limited dollars, so that if/when you do have more budget, you spend it wisely

If you really think about it.  What would you like to happen to make your association perfect?

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