Five steps to becoming an innovative association and driving member value

When you think of an innovator, you might imagine Marc Benioff, Sheryl Sandberg, or Elon Musk. Innovators introduce new ideas, inventions, or discoveries to our ever-changing world. You may believe such transformation is strictly reserved for Silicon Valley or maverick leaders. But your association can become innovative and drive superior member value. In fact, it’s necessary for your organization’s survival.

According to the Community Brands 2022 Association Trends Study, digital innovation is crucial to the success of your organization. Majorities of association members and professionals agree that organizations must digitally transform to survive. Currently, 36% of surveyed members and 50% of surveyed association professionals believe that the fact their association isn’t keeping up with the pace of technology is the main reason their organization is falling behind.

To stay ahead of this trend, your association needs to think like an innovator. Here’s how to get started:

What are the defining factors of an innovative association?  

Becoming an innovative association begins with examining your organization and rethinking your mission and values. Do your mission and values align with your current strategic goals? Are you on track to surpass your annual goals? How would adopting innovative technology help your association thrive?

As you examine your organization, reflect upon these questions and consider the following factors of an innovative association: 

1. Be a trailblazer. Like those innovative giants from Silicon Valley, your association can strive to do things differently. Becoming a trailblazing association means solving problems within your organization. Consider your association as a whole and examine the trends and larger issues your members and staff may face to recognize opportunities for innovation.

The American Society for the Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) chose Nimble AMS to streamline member and staff processes. With the point-and-click workflows builder, ASSH became a trailblazing association by automating hundreds of processes and saving countless staff hours.

2. Increase productivity. Eliminate low-value work at your association by adopting innovative technology. Look for features like predictive analytics and AI to give your organization a competitive edge in delivering superior member benefits.

The Marine Corps Association & Foundation (MCA&F) adopted Nimble AMS to improve its member experience. With the powerful combination of Nimble AMS and Salesforce Einstein AI, MCA&F was able to use AI predictions to boost member retention numbers, renewing 25% of high-risk members.

3. Prioritize new opportunities. Being an innovative association often comes down to knowing something isn’t working at your organization and learning when to pivot to something new. Keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening at your association by talking with members and staff. Consider sending out surveys to routinely gather feedback and plan on when to implement your next idea.

Tired of expensive customizations that broke with each product upgrade, NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education realized it was stuck with their legacy AMS technology. The association decided on Nimble AMS for its innovative ability to handle complex membership structures, continuous upgrades, and excellent customer support.

4. Stick to your values. Members are the driving force of your association. Highlighting your member benefits on your website, on social media, and at events will continually drive value at your organization. Creating a culture of innovation is another fantastic way to show you value your members. Try doing so by adding an integrated virtual member community, a learning program, career resources, and virtual, hybrid, and in-person events. 

The American Ceramic Society (ACerS) added member value to its association with Nimble AMS and Nimble Communities, an integrated online member platform. With Nimble Communities, ACerS was able to surpass all its goals for online community participation, expanding member engagement, and elevating the member experience.

5. Be flexible. Adopt flexible practices throughout your organization. Don’t stick to one effort assuming it will keep your association innovative for the future. Being innovative means, you learn from what works at your organization and what doesn’t. You’ll also want to ensure your IT budget is flexible to guarantee you’re technologically prepared for any changes. The Community Brands Study reports 65% of associations with increasing funds to have a flexible budget to accommodate future digital needs.

Knowing a change was imminent, the United States Institute for Theater Technology (USITT) transitioned from NetForum Cloud by Community Brands, to Nimble AMS. USITT chose Nimble AMS for its flexible platform, confident the software could scale with their growing organization.

Learn more about innovative associations and modern technology

Becoming an innovative association is a process, and the key to being a maverick organization is to take the first step. Request a demo to learn more about adopting innovative technology and transforming your entire organization for the future.


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