Skip navigation

To Stay Relevant, Associations Need Collaboration and Creativity

Association leaders will find solutions and inspiration at IMEX America.

The Association Leadership Forum is back by popular demand at IMEX America 2018, preparing association directors and other high-level attendees to meet current challenges and inspiring them to proactively take on future ones.

IMEX America 2018 will take place October 15-18 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center at The Venetian and The Palazzo in Las Vegas. Presentation topics at the show include developing new membership models and reimagining the future of events.

Matt Loeb, CGEIT, CAE, FASAE, the chief executive officer of ISACA (formerly Information Systems Audit and Control Association), will lead a session on embracing the digital transformation—although he told MeetingsNet that he would like to eliminate that term. "'Digital transformation’ is a terrible buzzword," he says. "What’s really at stake here is: How do we enhance our business model to serve our customers?”  

Loeb points out two things that affect the future of nonprofit associations. Firstly, the newest generation of workers is more motivated by having a job with meaning than a job that will buy them a large house and an expensive car. “I was at a conference where Jim Clifton, the CEO of Gallup, told 5,000 attendees from corporate boards that young people want to know, ‘Does my work matter?’” This means nonprofits are no longer the only entities in this space. He says, “The lines between for-profit and nonprofit are graying."

The second factor association leaders should consider is that delivery of service, member communications, and privacy protections all need to keep pace with other market segments or associations will be left behind. The way to do this is to leverage technology; association members expect the same value and ease of access to information that they get from the for-profit world, and will be frustrated if they don’t get it.

Loeb’s IMEX presentation will share creative ways in which associations can rival corporations without having to make the same financial investment. One way may be to partner with another association to invest in a software platform both organizations can use. He says that associations can’t afford to opt out of the global market, but expanding membership to Europe means complying with the General Data Protection Regulation. He suggests one solution could be to form partnerships with organizations that already have a supply chain able to meet GDPR obligations, and which are willing to share expert knowledge.

Lastly, although Loeb believes many associations lag behind the pace of change, he suggests that leadership think creatively about investing resources in order to keep delivering value to their members and sponsors.


Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.