Over 1.5 million nonprofits are operating in the United States today. Their charge is to make a difference in our communities, and they work tirelessly to solve critical issues and accomplish a mission that will alter life as we know it. Categories of these organizations include public charities, private foundations, chambers of commerce, fraternal organizations, civic leagues, and associations.
A unique group within the category of nonprofits is associations. These organizations, though built upon a mission, tend to center their existence around members versus the mission on hand. Their primary focus is to provide services, advocacy, and benefits to a membership base, such as a particular profession, trade, or industry.
The value provided and the experience created becomes everything for associations and their members. However, do we know what these organizations are indeed selling to their membership? When grafted into an association community, what exchange takes place?
It was best said this way, "We're not selling services. We're not even selling an experience. We are selling a solution." A top nonprofit executive reminded THuS Marketing of this vital fact. Associations exist to provide solutions to their members. Challenges and barriers that make it difficult to excel, grow, and reach full potential are tackled, fought against, and solved by associations.
Members look to associations they affiliate with as partners that come alongside them to make their individual worlds better. The mission is still vital, but it is aimed and focused on a particular group that must take priority over all an association does. The question becomes, are they?
Do your members' needs and value requirements take precedence? Complete this sentence, "A day in the life of my member looks like..." Can you do it? Are you able to articulate what a single day resembles for your members? What details would you include in a chapter to depict this?
That same nonprofit executive summarized it so simply. "Associations exist to clearly define what their members go through everyday and create methods for making that day better."
All this time, you believed your association was here to convene your membership into one location and provide a game-changing networking experience that would blow their minds. Or maybe you thought, your association's purpose is to create valuable, industry-transforming content that can not be replicated.
These provisions are by-products of a bigger picture. Associations are problem-solvers, and that's why your membership wants to hang out with you. New challenges are waiting, and your members are looking to you. Never before seen roadblocks are being built and unheard of barriers are being formed. Do you know what today looks like for your members? What about tomorrow?
Use marketing to its fullest extent, right now! Establishing your members' persona and developing your stakeholders' avatar is a must to do if you are going to continue to problem-solve. As our tip mentioned yesterday, there is no better time than the present to begin walking in your members' shoes. To know what they are going through, you have to spend a day in the life of.
Your members no longer want you to know them. They NEED you to!