We all know the importance of creativity. It’s how we connect with other people and solve certain problems. But in the association world, creativity can often be a problem in and of itself. People don’t have time, support, ideas, etc. – and that often puts creativity on the backburner.

But despite those challenges, creativity is SO important, and because of that, we’re dedicating today’s blog post to the problems with association creativity (the things holding people back), and more importantly, how to fix them:

Problem #1: “I don’t have time to be creative. I’m just trying to get things done!”

Solution #1: I’ll be the first to say that creativity does take time, and that’s something association professionals often lack. But creativity is worth your time because it can help move your association forward. It can help boost recruitment, engagement, and retention (if done right), and that’s something ALL association professionals want.  

That said, in order to embrace creativity at your association, you HAVE to commit to making time. That means blocking off time for creativity. Now the key to doing this is blocking off time in advance. Don’t wait until you have free time because chances are, you likely won’t have free time. Block off a day or half day twice a year or once a quarter to brainstorm ideas with your team. If you know well in advance these days are coming, you’re more likely to follow through with them (and better prepare for them).

Problem #2: “I’m not really a creative person. My brain just doesn’t think that way.”

Solution #2: Sure, some people are more creative than others, but everyone has at least a little creativity in them – you just have to tap into it. Not sure how? Here are a few ideas:

  • Create a vision board – You may not be able to come up with creative ideas the minute you need them, but if you can accumulate ideas/inspiration over time (on a vision board, for example), you’ll have a lot to pull from when you do need to think creatively.
  • Find a change of scenery – It’s hard to find inspiration in a day-after-day routine. That said, switch things up. Find a change of scenery and give your brain something new to take in/think about. You’d be surprised at how even the tiniest change (a new table to sit at, a new playlist to listen to) can spark a few fresh ideas.  

Problem #3: “I want to embrace creativity, but my coworkers/board members are hesitant.”

Solution #3: This is perhaps the most challenging problem of them all because it’s out of your control. But that’s not to say it can’t be overcome. If you have coworkers or board members who are averse to change, you then have to make a case for change. You have to sell it. Sit down with your coworkers and/or board and explain…

  • Why you need to change – What problems are you facing now that require a creative solution? Do you have a high number of lapsed members? A low number of event attendees? Clearly state those problems and re-emphasize that what you’ve been doing hasn’t necessarily been working.  
  • How other organizations have embraced creativity – Nothing beats a good old-fashioned example. If you’ve seen or read about an organization that’s done something really cool (launched a unique new member campaign, hosted an event with a twist), bring that up to your coworkers and/or board. Creativity always seems less scary when someone else has approached it first.  

At the end of the the day, creativity is all about making your organization stand out – to recruit, engage, and retain members. For more tips on all three of those tasks (plus more), check out our Ultimate Guide to Membership Management below!