Tuesday Buzz: Associations’ Next-Generation Opportunity

Providing digital certification for members could help associations gain a long-term foothold online, leaders at two association-focused startups argue. Plus: How many people showed up at #ASAE16 this year?

Is it time for associations to change it up?

Associations are often seen as resources for industries, niche focuses, and representation. They can help people network and get jobs, relate to others with specific interests, master a skill, and feel like they’re part of a broader community.

In the past five years, though, 33 percent of associations have reported declines in membership. In an op-ed for The Hill, Paul Freedman, CEO of Practice and founder of Entangled Ventures, and Jonathan Finkelstein, founder and CEO of Credly, say that social networks such as LinkedIn are attempting to replace the role of associations, but associations are rising to the occasion in response to the challenge.

“As it turns out, the very technologies that would threaten the historic value proposition of associations may pave the way for their tech-enabled second act,” Freedman and Finkelstein write.

With Facebook, LinkedIn, Lynda, YouTube, and other online tools attracting professionals eager to network, associations are trying to present themselves as essential resources.

Examples include the National Wood Flooring Association, which offers a “university” for credentials, and the American Institute of CPAs, which provides a record of professionals’ knowledge and skills via its digital badges. Options like these give people who can’t afford a bachelor’s degree a way to show their knowledge in a given industry. According to the authors, these kind of initiatives give associations an authority that social media outlets lack on their own.

“Associations are nothing if not resilient and uniquely positioned to see the big picture across the industries they serve,” Freedman and Finkelstein said. “We see a future for them that is bright. Technology won’t put associations out of business. But it might very well showcase their ingenuity and create entirely new roles for them to make an impact for their members and beyond.”

Tweet of the Day

The 2016 ASAE Annual Meeting and Exposition is just finishing up in Salt Lake City, and there were a lot of folks who made the trip. According to a graphic published in the Daily Now conference newspaper, the event drew 4,856 people from 22 countries—a quarter of whom were first-time attendees. Check out our live blog for event highlights.

Other Links of Note

Jotting a lot of things down at a conference? Don’t get overwhelmed by all that information when you get home. On the MemberClicks blog, Callie Walker shares four things to do right after the conference.

What’s up with association marketing today? On the Event Garde blog, Kristen Parker takes a look at the 2016 State of Digital Marketing in Associations report that Demand Metric showcased at #ASAE16.

While nonprofit work is beneficial to the community, there are many expenses, including travel. Benjamin Geller at the VolunteerMatch blog offers several ways on how to save on transportation.


Patrick deHahn

By Patrick deHahn

Patrick deHahn is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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