New Year; New You! That’s how the saying goes right? Resolutions offer us a chance to wipe the slate clean, correct bad habits and try new things. From a personal angle, it’s all about embracing the best parts of yourself. While you’re basking in the glow of the positivity brought by this resolve, why not try a few new things for your association?


If you aren’t currently using Slack, you’ve probably heard far and wide about it’s magical powers, allowing people with similar interests to communicate effectively, immediately and efficiently. From a user experience standpoint, Slack is extremely friendly to use, especially due to the ability to set up channels based on interest, audience or subject matter. Also, advanced settings options make Slack easy to customize to your preferences.

From an impact perspective, Slack is a great tool for socializing ideas, questions and updates without worrying if you left someone off a distribution list. Slack has a decent search tool to recall conversations (FYI: the free version does have a limit on how many messages are searchable, however), as well as the ability to pin comments to a channel for easy future reference. Some associations use Slack for internal collaboration only, while others extend usage to committees, shared interest groups, and boards to allow more member-driven communication.

Before you embrace Slack as a communication vehicle, think about what purpose it will serve your association and how your staff will track conversations and action items. This will help you decide if embracing Slack will, in fact, spark effective communication to the organization’s benefit, or if it will be an additional tool that your already-stretched-thin staff will have to monitor and manage. At the very least, Slack should save your email box from getting flooded, and that makes it worth a look in the new year.


The best associations are able to step back every once in a while, recognize where inefficiencies exist, and examine ways to eliminate those burdens on staff. Even though events and membership remain core sources for revenue, most association staffers still have a handful (okay, two handfuls) of tasks to complete in support of other vital programs and services. However, is it vital that association staff spend time focused on these things (think 80/20 rule)? If you can identify one or two tasks in 2018 that could potentially be contracted out, thus saving your staff time and frustration–and perhaps your assicaiton money–you should explore it.

For example, is there a painful part of your membership campaign each year that you could pay someone on a quarterly basis to handle for you? What about database maintenance? How about the management of your on-site conference tasks? Think about the things that don’t HAVE to be done by a staff member, but are a cut above what you would expect of a member volunteer. THAT is the area you should explore for outsourcing in 2018. Start small; enjoy big success.

Cut the Cord (WARNING: This one’s tough)

Raise your hand (come on, do it) if you have a task that you perform on behalf of your members because they always call and ask you to do it, and at this point it is expected? Maybe it’s registering them for an event? Renewing their membership? Sending them that copy of the committee meeting agenda? Stop. Stop. Stop doing that. I know, it’s difficult because our members pay us money for a service. BUT, unless you list “personal concierge” as one of your member benefits, you are doing a disservice to your members if you aren’t equipping them to use the tools you’ve made available. For example, most associations use an association management software (and if you don’t, call MemberClicks today…we can help!) that aims to handle as many administrative needs as possible while tying all information to a central database.

If you have invested time and money to something like this, don’t you want your members to use it and understand how easily they can control their own membership destiny? Certainly, it is uncomfortable to tell members that they need to sign up for the annual meeting themselves using the member portal. But think of how much time you and your fellow staffers will save if you force them to handle these tasks themselves? It’s very similar to raising children, right? We have to equip these precious gems to function in the world as it exists. To do that, we need to teach them the skills needed to thrive. Reject doing it for them, and empower your members to do things on their own. Now, start thinking about what you’re going to do with all that new found time.

Ask Why?

This one is listed last, but it’s EXTREMELY important and probably something we all lose sight of as the year goes on. Making decisions that are in the best interest of membership is–to put it lightly–difficult. If you are faced with a hard decision–big or small–pause and ask these questions before moving forward:

  • Is this idea mission critical?
  • How many members have shown interest and how often?
  • Is this something that will define a membership decision?
  • Is there capacity to support this idea?
  • Is there financial benefit to this idea?
  • Can we measure impact/success?

All of these questions aim to answer one larger question: WHY? Taken alone, the answers these questions don’t give much clarity to whether or not you should embrace a new idea. For example, just because something is financially beneficial doesn’t mean staff has capacity to support its success. But if you honestly answer each of these questions, you’ll find the perspective to discover the “why” behind a particular decision. Without that context, you may not be serving the best interest of your membership or the long term vision of your association. Can we agree that next year will be the year of asking “WHY?” Guaranteed, you’ll set yourself up for making more informed decisions comfortably.

Best of luck for a prosperous and successful 2018. As associations, we are on the precipice of a very transformative time. Sure, you can be intimidated by this. OR you can look at it as an opportunity to enter a new and innovative phase for your organization. The future could be yours…you just have to be willing to try new things; and know why you’re trying them.

For more tips on managing your association in 2018, check out our Ultimate Guide to Membership Management below! It’s filled with best practices for membership recruitment, engagement, retention, and more!