Daily Buzz: Do You Need an Online Community?

Digital communities offer a lot of benefits, but if your association is only seeking increased engagement, it might be time to consider another strategy. Also: why traditional sponsorship tiers need to be rethought.

An online community can boost your organization’s reach and help meet strategic goals. But what people aren’t talking about is that these perks might not apply to allĀ  associations. In fact, if you’re just hosting an online community for engagement, it’s likely your organization needs to take a closer look at what you really need from a digital community space since “engagement” is so broad.

According to community manager Marjorie Anderson, it is worth it for your association to explore online community if it’s trying to accomplish these three things:

  1. Reach a broader audience.
  2. Increase in-person participation.
  3. Develop community as a holistic part of the organization.

On the other hand, if your organization is creating an online community simply for “engagement” or because it’s trendy, it might serve you better to think of other strategies. “Take a wide view to help figure out whether an online community will help you serve these people any better than you are now when it comes to YOUR association,” Anderson says. “If not, don’t add overhead and added expense where it’s not necessary.”

Rethinking Sponsorship Tiers

Just because something is common within the association space doesn’t mean it’s not worth rethinking. And it’s with that in mind that association sponsorship guru James M. Personius is pushing against the status quo of sponsorship—the platinum-gold-silver-bronze (PGSB) structure—which puts larger sponsors on a higher tier than smaller ones.

In a blog post for Association Media & Publishing, Personius says the model has a number of weaknesses, among them the perception problem that is naturally raised:

With higher prices and a hierarchy in names (platinum, diamond, etc.), PGSB emphasizes the prices sponsors pay as a sign of sponsor value; it creates a hierarchy of perceived prestige across sponsors based on sales amounts. PGSB is inherently biased toward larger, established companies over smaller companies or new entrants. Yet, most innovation and new solutions emerge from the latter category.

Personius suggests thinking about sponsorships in term of membership, rather than support.

“The best sponsors focus on their solutions to member problems and needs,” he adds. “Successful sponsorships help associations, members, and sponsors. PGSB focuses primarily on association needs.”

Other Links of Note

Gen Z grew up in the age of technological innovation. When it comes to your next conference, here’s what you can do to attract Gen Z-ers, from the MemberClicks blog.

Working with freelancers can be complicated. They might not know your association needs, but you might not know their expertise either. NTEN shares tips on how to bridge the freelancer-nonprofit divide.

Leaders have to tackle many things, including business negotiations. Fast Company outlines six common negotiating mistakes you could be making and how to fix them.

(MicroStockHub/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Jeff Hsin

By Jeff Hsin


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