Tuesday, April 15, 2014

When it comes to change, is your association board pro-active?

Is this one of your board members?
Following Sunday’s Master’s Tournament, USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan wrote a stinging column about the lack of action to stem the bleeding in the game of golf:
  • The game of golf is in serious trouble, but it has little to do with the aging of Tiger Woods.
  • Every year, as many as 1 million participants decide to stop playing golf. Their reasons? It's too expensive. It takes too long. It's too hard. It's too elitist.
  • The recession of 2008 hit the game particularly hard, with stuffy country clubs doing the unthinkable: reducing fees and practically begging people to join. But golf's leaders otherwise have been stunningly slow to react, and they have their reasons. What they must do to make their game more appealing to prospective new players will alter – and perhaps destroy – what they love most about the game.
  • Golf will never be as accessible and inexpensive as sports such as tennis, basketball and soccer. But it can do much more than it has so far to welcome new players, if only its leaders decide to truly grow the game rather than keep it the way it always has been.
Over the last 35 years, I’ve witnessed many associations paralyzed by the fear of change. 

What are your association’s vital signs?

  • Is membership steady, increasing or decreasing? Are your renewal rates increasing or decreasing?
  • Is your funding stable or improving? Or, are you frequently drawing on your reserves to fund on-going operations?
  • Is participation rate (at conferences) increasing or decreasing?
At what point do association executives and association boards address your vital signs (or dashboards)?

What processes do you use to share these with your boards?

How often do you engage the board in a thorough review of your existing programs and services?

If associations and nonprofits act like the golf industry, we may deserve the stinging commentary Ms. Brennan wrote about golf.

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