Sunday, February 1, 2015

Is Your Association Stuck in Groundhog Day?


Today is Groundhog Day. You know, if the groundhog sees its shadow, we’re supposed to have six more weeks of winter weather.

But, for this blog, I’m thinking of the 1993 movie Groundhog Day  ... the one where Phil Connors (played by Bill Murray) ends up in a time loop, living the same day over and over again.

Groundhog Day doesn’t just affect associations, corporations face the same issues. Here are some quotes from The Next McDonald’s Turnover, Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., column in last weekend’s Wall Street Journal:

  • If there’s a lesson for McDonald’s latest troubles, which got CEO Don Thompson fired this week, it’s that every organization keeps doing what works until it no longer works. McDonald’s problems are eminently fixable.
  • The easiest part is to stop doing what no longer works. 
Today’s question is whether your association is trapped doing the same things day after day but not really making any progress.

Annual meeting: 

  • Are you conducting the same program year after year? 
  • What is it accomplishing (other than meeting legal requirements?) 
  • Have you modified the learning styles of your meetings? 
Membership services/programs: 
  • Are you still offering the same member benefits as five years ago? 
  • Have you developed new concepts for younger members? 
  • What modifications have you made for retiring members?
Fundraising approaches: 
  • Are you still using the same tactics and materials in raising funds from donors? 
  • Still direct mail? 
Website: 
  • Is it still an “electronic brochure?” 
  • When last updated? 
  • Are the “news items” in the “news page” recent? 
  • Are all dates/locations current or still last year’s? Is it constructed with responsive design so it fits on all forms of mobile media?
Over the last 38 years, I’ve observed that associations are great at adding new programs but lousy at ending old programs.

When was the last time your organization conducted a program audit to review all programs? Have you eliminated any that are not working? Have your revised any programs to make them more meaningful to members?

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