Yesterday I saw this article on my Facebook feed: Silly U.S. Laws Come Alive in This Photo Series.

And it got me thinking. What are some silly, unwritten rules from days gone by that exist in associations? They might not be as silly as bouncing pickles or an ice cream cone in your back pocket, but they could definitely be holding your association back.

Silly Association Laws That Need Updating

1)   We have to do it this way because we always have

Oh if I had a dime for every time I heard a sad association executive relay this exact conversation with their board. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” will always be a good rule, but if you run things the same way year after year after year you run the risk of missing out on great new technology, attracting new, younger members, and even alienating or boring some old ones. Again, it doesn’t have to be immediate, dramatic change. Just try something new every once in awhile. If things are better off the way they were, by all means go back. But don’t discount new ideas just because they’re different!


2)   Events work best on this time on this day

Timing for events is so critical, and when you have one that works the natural impulse is to hold onto it tightly and not let go. That might work for a few years! But the only constant about association life is change, and after a few years and a few leadership changes that might not be the case anymore. I’m not saying toss the event planning rule book entirely, but just try a different event or a different time and location. You never know what will work and resonate!


3)   A member must attend X number of meetings to really “participate”

One thing about Millennials, and the working public in general, is that office hours are rarely 9-5 anymore. I can’t tell you how many association events and meetings I missed early in my career due to a swing shift or overnight schedule. While I tried to make up for my seeming lack of involvement by engaging online and over E-mail, it seemed that I was basically discounted as a participating member. As an association executive, that thinking is completely justified, but don’t cast off someone who is willing to help. Simply ask them what their ideas are and how and when they CAN help.


4)   The value we offer is always the same

Your members may really like one of your offerings as an association, whether it’s networking, connections, resources, or education. One thing could be your crown jewel, but don’t discount the fact that while most members enjoy the thing your association does really well, they could have joined for another reason. While it might not be smart to invest all of your time an effort in under served areas, don’t let them fall off the radar entirely. You never know who you are missing out on!


5)   We have a website, okay now that’s done

Websites are hardly EVER “done now.” Your association grows and changes all the time. Don’t you want your website to reflect that? Not to mention that you want your website to rank high in search engines, and many of them rely on recent updates to bump them higher in search rankings. A regularly updated website also adds validity to your association so nobody will say, “Well it looks like this group was active in 2002… are they still active?”


If your associations still cling to some of these rules, don’t feel bad. You’re not alone. They’re in place for a reason, and so far they’ve probably worked, right? If you or some members of your leadership staff are a little hesitant to change, that’s OK too. Just consider these “changes” to some old fashioned rules for the future.


Speaking of change, how is your AMS working for you? Take this quick test and see!