Association stakeholders offer real solutions to tackle 2021 head-on

Association heads have deployed several methods to ensure continuity during this pandemic, such as adopting new ways to reach out to members, starting an academy to provide education to members, and coming up with projects and content.
These were just some of the best practices and tips shared during the (APAC) Outlook 2021: Preparing Your Association for the New Year webinar on January 20.
Seet: deployed strategies to step up community engagement resulting in a growth in registrations
A speaker, International Coaching Federation’s (Singapore Chapter) president Jada Seet, said the chapter had encouraged members to step up community engagement by volunteering to lead new projects “to create a sense of belonging” and ownership. And to enhance the online experience for members, the chapter created pre-event activities and speed dating after.
Seet shared that the chapter had not been impacted economically as the need for coaching increased and those in the sector had to learn how to adapt and transition from offline to online, while keeping in mind how to increase the human touch and emphasise community through technology during the pandemic.
In fact, the chapter, which relies on membership fees as its revenue model, saw a 40 per cent increase in registrations in 2020.

Meanwhile, Marcel Ewals, director, associations and marketing, MCI Group, pointed out member engagement was the “priority in 2021”, and the answer was to transform traditional top-down committees to be more diverse by including younger members and “outsiders” in building project groups and content.

Ewals said MCI was championing a “self-driven, project-driven and technology-driven strategy to help clients transition to become more interactive and creative to give members value with no face-to-face events”.

Over in India, to prevent Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations (FADA) members from “incurring huge losses” if they could not transition from offline to online when the country went into lockdown on February 25, the 56-year-old entity took its case to the Supreme Court to prevent the industry from collapsing.

FADA CEO Saharsh Damani described its legal undertaking as a “learning phase” and the biggest challenge was how to make others learn.

By taking a more focused approach and increasing its branding initiatives through social media, Damani said FADA increased webinar attendance 10-fold, and key points discussed were documented in its daily newswire and fleshed out in its newsletter.

Apart from educating members on upcoming trends and government regulations, FADA created an academy, currently offering online courses and is looking at organising one- or two-day physical classroom sessions.

The federation, which has 2,600 Life Members, has tasked itself to speak to 10 members a day and to reach its entire membership at least once, on the telephone or via Zoom.

Calling India’s January 16 vaccination rollout good news and kickstarting 2021 on a good note, Damani “thinks the worse is behind us now”. He forecasts growth starting in April and is optimistic about demand in September/October, the country’s next festive season.

As for Melbourne-based Nick Koerbin, executive director, Association Executive Services, he urged associations to develop and put in place policies on data collection, data security and data privacy.

The 20-year association management veteran foresees the rationalisation and merger of associations as some of those which have been around for a long time will not survive if they do not adapt quickly, accelerate their technology know-how and are not able to manage change.

Koerbin opined future face-to-face events would be smaller and for associations to avoid online event fatigue by setting a very clear agenda and limiting sessions to no more than 45 minutes.