Planning for a new year causes us to look at what’s ahead: opportunities to conquer, challenges to overcome, and trends to follow. While associations have had to adjust and adapt in numerous ways over the last couple of years, and we can’t be certain what 2023 will bring, there are a few trends we can anticipate.
2022 Association Trends Study: The Future-Focused Member Experience
This study, with data collected from hundreds of association leaders and a thousand members, will help guide your strategies and give you actionable take-aways to drive more engagement and loyalty.
Here are four association trends you should know for 2023:
1. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Initiatives
According to research from Gartner, nearly 8 out of 10 of executives say diversity initiatives are increasingly important in achieving organizational goals— and they’re demonstrating strong support for it. While external social and legislative pressures help drive these DEI initiatives, the bottom line is that diversity is good for business.
Further, this research found that in a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization, individual effort improves by 12 percent, retention improves by 20 percent, and member collaboration and commitment improve by about 50 percent. The numbers tell us that diversity, equity, and inclusion aren’t just theoretically important, morally important, and legally important. DEI initiatives drive outcomes that are essential to organizational success.
Organizations that want to foster diversity, equity, and inclusion should take intentional, educated steps to foster a more diverse member base. First, though, association leadership must represent the end goals to these DEI initiatives. If your organization’s own staff isn’t diverse, doesn’t promote equity, and doesn’t foster an inclusive environment, it can be a roadblock in recruiting more diverse members. Transition and adaptation are key components of maintaining a strong, healthy association. Organizations at the forefront of increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives build a community with a sense of belonging and acceptance, and are only expected to grow.
2. Virtual and Hybrid Events
Industry research from Community Brands shows that many members of professional associations began engaging virtually and via hybrid events in 2020 and 2021 and are expected to continue doing so into the future. Members who have become more involved have done so because of increased online resource offerings from their association.
Even members who used to engage more or entirely in person now say they will be moving toward a balance of in-person and virtual engagement. This shift toward sustained virtual and hybrid (in-person and online) engagement presents a great opportunity for your association’s career advancement program. These events can help you grow your members’ careers while driving revenue for your organization.
Like many companies and organizations, associations have had to re-think and re-tool throughout the last couple of years. From moving staff to a work-from-home setting to delivering member value in a more virtual environment, the change in environment raised questions for association professionals about how they should be preparing for what comes next. Many associations now face a new challenge: How to build “the next normal” when members’ needs, behaviors, and perspectives have changed.
The 2022 Association Trends Study by Community Brands sheds some light on how associations can step up and “future-proof.” Members are focused on need-to-know and protecting their industry. The most important areas of value are industry news and information, training, advocacy, raising awareness, code of ethics, and fueling industry growth.
Association pros can focus their energy on these areas to enhance member value. Members also want more learning options. Employers and professional organizations are the most popular sources of education and training for members and can “future-proof” by continuing to be so. And, while pros feel slightly more technologically prepared for the future than they did in 2019, half do not feel as prepared as they would like. Most pros (78 percent) say their staff is working more than they were a year ago, and 40 percent of those plan to invest in new tech to address the increased workload. Business analytics/intelligence tools are an emerging area for investment.
AMC Source, a full-service association management firm with 75 years of combined experience, has this to say about “future-proofing:”
“…it will include contingency planning, adequate insurance coverage, and a strong culture of flexibility and preparedness. In 2022, the focus will shift from reactivity to proactivity, with an emphasis on planning for challenges instead of being at their mercy.”
4. Social Media
According to a recent study, 93% of recruiters are already using or plan to use social media to support their recruiting efforts. The use of social media to engage your members with job postings has become increasingly popular through networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, which make it much easier to reach passive candidates.
Your organization should be a source of information, tools and resources for your members. By utilizing social media for your career center, you can transform it to become one of the top resources you provide to your members and the employers looking to hire them. Social media can allow you to:
- Drive passive job seekers to your job board
- Prove the ability to engage with your members via other channels
- Become a source of engagement, revenue, and pride for your organization
Your association can be ahead of the curve by championing DEI initiatives, hosting virtual and hybrid events, “future-proofing,” and utilizing social media. And, with YM Careers’ job board and career center software, your members can be ahead of the curve in their career development.