My advice for what I have learned from the pandemic was the same one month in, as it is now, 17 months in – diversification is the key to survival. The realization came so easily that I’m surprised more organizations didn’t think of it before it all began.
The obvious fact is that a pandemic that caused the world to stop being together in person would not be good for live events. Associations that based more than 25% of their revenue on events and sponsorships realized this quickly as well. Finding additional sources of non-dues revenue would be needed and quickly.
For many associations, they also realized that they were not focusing on their dues revenue either. Some examples of this are not reviewing dues increases, not expanding membership segments, and even simply not collecting dues payments from members year after year.
Beyond the obvious, we also realize that even associations that are not heavily event focused also needed to diversify. By this I mean, depending upon the industry they are in, even membership could take a dive with a pandemic or any major world event.
An example of this is the hospitality and meetings industry who has to have been put through the wringer more than other industries over the last 20 years. By spreading a larger net of your membership base, you have a greater chance of survival should any event cause an industry market to crash. Or diversifying your services, instead of being solely focused on education or consumer focused, invest in lobbying support for your industry.
The bottom line is, there always needs to be a reason for someone to participate with your association. Now is the time to make strategic plans to help your association survive the next big thing.