Association Management

General Data Protection Regulation and Associations

My key takeaways from a deep-dive in the "GDPR":

  • Associations need to create awareness among their Board and employees on ‘data protection’ – fe. via the organisation of an information session.
  • Associations need to update the language of their current privacy notices to integrate active consent (at member subscription, event registration, the website,…).
  • Associations need to store their contacts in a structured database with clear identification of the source of the contact and the active consent of the contact.
  • Associations need to create a document that describes what data is collected of whom, how these data are stored and protected, what the purpose of the collected data is, what is being done with the data and whom has access to the data. This document should be available for all persons in the database (‘data subjects’.).
  • Associations need to include data protection rules in the contractual arrangements with suppliers in case these suppliers handle their data (fe: conference organisers).
  • Data subjects should have given consent to be included in the database. For Members this is evident. For past Members: can be kept in the database until they ‘unsubscribe’. For non-Members: ask for active consent to be stored in the database.
  • Data from Members, past-Members and non-Members that have given consent and do not unsubscribe, can be stored as long as needed. Other data (unsubscribers) can be stored for research purposes.
  • Associations need to assign a controller and identify the processors of data. There is no need to assign a Data Protection Officer as long as the association doesn’t have at least a part-time employee responsible for database management.

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Grow your Membership in 2018 with 5 key actions

Your Members are your most loyal customers. In 2018, you can implement 5 actions to grow the number of Members of your association.

Offer a top user-experience on your digital channels

Members, as customers, are spoiled by the likes of and Amazon. They want a top user-experience when renewing their Membership, registering for an event or consuming digital content on your website.

Key action: invest in a digital platform (including website, membership management,...) and in a ‘rapid-response’ to questions by Members.

Provide relevant content

Members become Members because your association enables them to reach their professional objectives more effectively. For this, you offer unique learning and networking opportunities.

Key action: invest in the identification of the real learning needs of your target group and, next, organise effective educational activities/initiatives (be it live or online).

Offer possibilities to contribute and get visibility

Members become Members because your association is a means to increase the impact of their own work. As such, your society serves as a ‘megaphone’ for your Members.

Key action: develop an easy way for your Members to contribute with their expertise and get visibility (be it online or offline) – for example: “a 3 minutes free speech session” at your yearly event.

Communicate clearly about what you offer and the outcomes of your initiatives

What is the point of being a great association if nobody knows? You have unique educational content, expertise, networking opportunities, projects, events, … many of them seem ‘standard’ in your own perspective but they are not 'standard' for most potential Members.

Key action: invest in an updated ‘look’&’feel’ (logo, colours, letter type) and well-designed e-newsletter and website, use the communication channels your target group uses on a regular basis (be it journals, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.)

Make sure you are ‘fun’ and ‘a + on my CV’ to be part of

A picture with a smiling group of peers says more than a thousand words. Nobody wants to be(come) part of a society with unhappy people.

Key action: pay attention to ‘hospitality’, ‘friendliness’ and 'experience' when developing communication and events.

Keep it cheap – get your income elsewhere

Members make the calculation when it comes to Membership fees. Hence, your Members should be monetised not exploited.

Key action: decrease the overall part of your revenue coming from Membership fees by increasing sponsorship contributions, public funding, etc,…

Why Members Matter and How to Increase their Number

Many associations ask me: “We think having Members is old fashioned and we want to stop our efforts to raise Membership Fees, do you agree?”

Members are your most loyal customers.

The good thing about Members is: you do not need to find them anymore, you do not need to convince them to pay for your services for the first time,... Members are already part of your customer base and they are pretty loyal!

Hence: Members are the first in line to purchase the (new) services you offer.

What’s more: as they are loyal and motivated, they should be the first to provide useful feedback about your services. This feedback allows you to improve/adapt your services quickly to your (future) customers’ needs. This, in turn, enables the creation of better services that will convince less loyal and new customers.

Spoil your Members.

For all these reasons, Members should be spoiled. They should receive real value for money for their Membership and they should be invited to actively provide their feedback on your association and its services/products.

Your entire association and its future Members will benefit from it.

Thus yes, Members do matter and increasing their number, starts with being transparent as an association about what you do and why and allowing your current Members to express their opinion on all aspects of it.

Next, it’s about clearly developing the financial and non-financial benefits you offer to your Members. Ask yourself: What added value do you offer and is the value in line with the Membership fee?

If Members can actively provide feedback and they get services that add value for themselves, you can start implementing Membership Management Processes. How to do that? Just read one of our next blogposts.

3 Actions to Grow Your Association

Ambitious directors of non-profit organisations are not satisfied with a status quo. Here are three actions you can take to grow your association.

Convince your team of your purpose and added value

Make sure you and your team are convinced of the added value of your own services, before starting convincing others.

Do you want to organise trainings? In which areas specifically and with what actions? Do you want to increase your countries’ changes to get golden medals? In which disciplines and what are the actions you will implement?

And why would potential interested persons in your goal, be willing to collaborate with your association?

Answering these questions obliges you to define your ‘unique selling proposition’ (USP). Knowing ànd truly believing your USP, will make all future actions much more productive.

Manage your association as it was a business

You are not good in everything. We all have to admit that. Therefore: carefully select and create partnerships with organisations, suppliers and individuals that can bring true added value to your association.

And for those areas you really want to make a difference for your members, make sure you hire and grow the best talent that is available in the market. If not, your members will seek help elsewhere.

You are right, a balance scorecard might seem boring, but it’s a great tool to align everybodyto achieve the same goals (from Board to your support team): number of new Members, number of participants at your Annual Congress, click-through rate of your e-newsletters, number of Members that seek your advice per month, etc… These metrics help to focus and to answer the difficult question: what are my priorities today?

You are the best: believe it, show it and communicate as such to your addressees.

You are the best association in your field and you make a difference. If not, why bother…

Use technology to drive personalisation in your communication: customised emails, mobile applications, What’s App and text messages complement more generic tools as mobile websites, e-newsletters, Linked-In, Facebook, etc. 

This personalised communication starts with strong (and painful) database management: Know whom you are aiming for and stand out from the crowd!

Through targeted and relevant communication of information to your target audience you make sure they know you are the best.

To summarise

Once your association is convinced and aligned on your own purpose and the concrete actions to bring added value to your members, it all comes down to selecting the right partnerships, hiring the best people and monitoring closely the correct implementation of the agreed actions. All this will increase your association’s impact, which makes it much easier to communicate on a personal level your added value to the right target audience.