Good Reads You Might Have Missed: Building Member Trust

Trust is everything for associations—and it’s earned, not bestowed. Check out some of our posts in the archives to get a sense of what members expect when it comes to maintaining trust.

So much of what gives an association or trade group its power is the institutional trust it generates.

Association execs continually look for ways to cultivate that trust—through a mix of effective messaging, strong leadership, and an understanding of what’s already working.

With that in mind, check out some highlights from the archives of Associations Now and ASAEcenter.org that might help your organization forge fresh trust strategies:

How to Shift Your Communication Strategy to Build Trust and Inclusion. This piece by Tim Ebner, communications director and press secretary at the American Forest & Paper Association (and a former Associations Now senior editor), highlights how tone has come into the fore during the pandemic—something AF&PA has skillfully shown with its YouTube channel. “These times require a shift in communication technique and writing tone,” Ebner wrote. “To build a stronger and more personal connection, you need to incorporate elements and styles that can help foster inclusion, empathy, and trust.”

Report: The Factors That Drive Trust (or Distrust) in Nonprofits. In a summary of a 2020 report from Independent Sector, a number of notable discussion points emerge around trends in trust—for example, how people in rural and underserved communities have the lowest level of trust in nonprofits. Resolving trust issues, however, could have a big impact going forward, per the report. “Statistical analysis reveals that trust and outcomes are interlinked—high trust leads to more giving and volunteering, but engagement and positive experiences with nonprofits also enhance trust,” the report stated.

Improve Chapters Through Engagement, Support, and Trust. J. Scott Douglas, senior director of membership and business development with the National Strength and Conditioning Association, highlights how the association worked closely with its chapter volunteers, who tend to work nontraditional schedules, to maintain strong engagement and deepen trust with the parent organization—including regular virtual meetings with regional leadership. “It is now a growing priority for us to attend state, provincial, and regional events to both evaluate and celebrate their efforts,” he wrote.

‌Take a Cue From One of America’s Most Trusted Institutions … Business? In this piece, Gary LaBranche, FASAE, CAE, president and CEO of the National Investor Relations Institute, breaks down considerations on institutional trust that emerged from Edelman’s 2021 Trust Barometer survey, and how those could apply to associations in general, especially in comparison to other institutions, such as government entities. “It’s easier for people to discount what the government is saying than to have trust in them; they haven’t had a record of performance,” he said. “Businesses and associations and other nonprofits, for example, have a better record of delivery.”

Build Your Reputation as a Trusted Source. Pulling from Impact Every Day, an ASAE Research Foundation study about the role of associations in society, this piece highlights the fact that many look to associations as a trusted source of information well into the future. Jenny Nelson, ASAE’s director of content and knowledge resources, said that this offers an opportunity to reinforce what is working—especially compared with alternative content resources. “To rise above the content fray, associations should prioritize the quality of the information they disseminate,” she wrote.

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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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