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Seven Ways to Celebrate a Milestone

Whether you’re marking an anniversary of your association’s launch, looking back on a landmark event, or simply noting a moment in history, there are lots of ways for associations to honor a milestone moment.

When a big anniversary is coming up, it’s natural to want to celebrate in a splashy way. That means using a little creativity. After all, you want to do something special, right?

Whether that means a big party or a new initiative, it’s useful to see how others have done it. Here’s a selection of interesting approaches to marking a milestone:

Throw a Gala

It may be the old standby, but it still might be the right way to make an impact. And it’s one that groups such as the Maine Tourism Association, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, are using to capture the excitement over hitting a massive milestone.

One probable change for MTA, given the ways the pandemic has shifted the environment: Leading up to May’s centennial gala, the association is hosting an array of regional events and webinars.

Redesign Your Logo

Another thing that MTA did ahead of its 100th anniversary was redesign its logo. It’s not an uncommon approach; in fact, the National Basketball Association did just that ahead of its current season to celebrate its 75th anniversary, bringing in a diamond shape to add a fresh spark around its iconic silhouette logo.

(Something else the NBA did to celebrate its anniversary: It created a “75th anniversary team,” featuring the greatest players in the league’s history.)

Launch a Landmark Campaign

A particularly fitting way to shine a light on the work your association has done is to build a campaign that helps develop the next generation.

That was the strategy the National Association of Manufacturers took on its 125th anniversary, when it launched a campaign called Creators Wanted. The idea: Highlight the work of the industry, and the power of the next generation to drive that work.

“It’s the largest campaign that we’ve ever undertaken of this sort,” NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons said in 2019. “If we can have one out of every two parents saying, ‘Yeah, I’d like to see my child at least entertain the thought of going into manufacturing,’ we’d consider that a huge win.”

The campaign is still going strong today.

Lean on Creative Contests

The American National Standards Institute knows a thing or two about sticking to a standard.

That’s part of why ANSI launched a haiku competition in 2018, tying it to both its 100th anniversary and the annual World Standards Week event. As the group put it in a news release, “Well, when you think about it, a haiku is actually a standard.”

Associations could hold similar contests to bring out the creativity in their members and the public.

Recount the Moment on Social Media

Not every milestone is an association anniversary; maybe it’s simply a moment in history that’s important to your association. Take the 50th anniversary of the moon landing in 2019, which a number of groups celebrated.

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics even went so far as to do a “live”-stream of that big event on Twitter, creating a way for modern aviation and astronomy fans to relive an iconic moment.

If you have a historic event in your archives that lends itself to a re-created livestream, it could be a great way to build attention for your organization.

Write Your Own Birthday Song

When the Country Music Association celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016, songwriting was a natural way to mark the occasion. The result was a medley of three popular songs performed by a who’s who of country music—including longtime superstars such as Alabama and Brooks & Dunn and more recent icons, including Kacey Musgraves and Jason Aldean.

The medley—made up of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again,” and Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You”—benefited from Nelson and Parton themselves taking part in the performance. All in all, 30 major figures helped to bring a fresh shine to country music.

Highlight Your Members

If you don’t want to make your association the center of your celebration,turn the lens to your members and put them at the forefront of your print and digital coverage.

This is an approach that ASAE (with the help of this publication) took in 2020, when it created its “100 Associations That Will Save the World” package to mark its 100th birthday. The feature highlighted organizations helping solve problems in all walks of life, including issues surrounding the then-new coronavirus.

(YSedova/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a senior editor for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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