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Executives of membership-based associations are painfully aware that many of the basic roles their organizations have long played can now be handled over a smartphone – without them.

 

The problem, in a nutshell, is that new digital platforms launched by for-profit technology companies ­­threaten to displace and erode the value propositions that trade and professional associations have long counted on for membership retention and sustainability.

 

“Even though most members see the value in their association membership, for-profit companies are succeeding in capturing membership dollars by filling perceived gaps in offerings,” concluded Rockbridge Associates, Inc., a market research firm based in Great Falls, Va., in an August 2016 survey of association members’ attitudes about technology. Among their findings: “Two-thirds of professional association members (67%) have used a for-profit company for an activity traditionally provided by an association.”

 

It doesn’t have to be this way. Associations should instead be rapidly incorporating these third-party tools and platforms, using them to supercharge their powerful databases of unique content and member information – and adding continuous value to their publications, advocacy, thought leadership, meetings and events.

 

Of course, that’s easier said than done. Nonprofits are typically behind the technology curve. Organizational cultures are often stuck in departmental silos. Their product development process is anything but rapid. Boards are reluctant to make bets on the future until they see an inspiring, but realistic and achievable, plan for making much-needed digital investments.

 

Digital Prism Advisors brings decades of experience in technology strategy, business analysis, customer relations and publishing to help membership-based organizations stay relevant and sustainable in an age of digital disruption. It all starts with an understanding that the entire organization needs to transform: from the technology stack to an organizational culture that values rapid product development, a robust data environment and a fearless loyalty to user needs.

 

The goal, in other words, is to become an Agile Association for the digital age.

 

Take a look at the questions on this page. Have you been asking any of them recently? If so, click on a question to learn how dPrism can turn your organization into an Agile Association. Then give us a call or send us an e-mail and we’ll come by for a chat.