What’s Next for Associations and Nonprofits?

This year has been a historic challenge for organizations, especially nonprofits and associations. In-person conferences disappeared, budgets were cut, teams dispersed, and members and donors froze.

But 2020 is almost over. It’s time to look past this year.

Resolve: No more silos. No more one-offs. No more looking back. No more being frozen. No more indecision. To survive, to look ahead to what’s next, it’s time to rethink your marketing and brand and take advantage of the opportunities in front of you. On the other side of this time, what are your members and supporters ready for: a new brand? A new value proposition? A digital refresh or redesign? Renewed focus on your mission?

What’s next for your organization?

Revisit discovery & diagnostics

Today’s mission-based audiences are continually changing. Getting in front of their needs and understanding what they want from their relationship with your brand can be challenging, even frustrating. To better connect your brand with your audiences, understanding your positioning and perception are key.

Audit your content and analytics. Analyze your competitors. Connect with your audiences through surveys and in-depth interviews. Assemble your stakeholders for a workshop to unite and problem-solve. You may be surprised by what you discover, but you will find opportunities. The most important imperative is to keep the audience at the center. Understanding your brand will drive membership, donations, and support.

Consider a rebrand-looking to the future, not stuck in the past

Mission-driven organizations need to think about the future. It’s time to face reality: is the organization suffering despite continued efforts to revitalize? Is there a gap the organization could fill? Is the organization evolving? What is the value your organization brings to the industry?

As organizations look to the future, and what can be left behind, there is an opportunity to influence the industry like never before. Creating a new, modern brand identity that members and supporters can rally behind, that pushes your advocacy or thought leadership forward, and injects new life and energy into your activities, can ensure you emerge from 2020 stronger than before.

Run a membership campaign

It may seem counterintuitive, but there may be no better time than right now to be a part of an association. In the heat of the greatest moments of disruption — like a pandemic — that’s where innovation,  advancement, and connection happen to keep your company and your career on track.

If associations are operating well during the pandemic, delivering quality educational resources and are truly leading in times of adversity, they could be the glue that holds an industry together. Members want to be a part of that. Associations can be the place where change, breakthroughs, and revelations for individuals and the industry happen simultaneously.

Rethink the shift to digital publications

Association publishing is at a crossroads over shifting to digital or remaining in print. Digital is cost-effective, but for many associations, the publication is the most valuable member benefit.

Publishing initiatives have the opportunity to really connect and deliver to audiences today. If the publication is reaching members, it breaks through the digital noise and creates ripples of impact.

If the publication was the reason people were members in the first place, don’t lose that audience with the shift to digital. To have something tangible, something members can see, feel, and touch, may drive retention. A redesign of the publication to modernize it and make it more engaging may be the best answer for your association.

Explore new digital channels

While it’s important to explore other non-digital opportunities to connect with members and prospects, let’s not ignore that digital is here to stay.

If your nonprofit or association wasn’t already digital-savvy, it’s time to get up to speed, and fast. Practically everything is digital — and will be — for the foreseeable future. Think about what your organization can tap into digitally, one step at a time, and invest in initiatives that will create value for your organization.

Is your digital platform using a legacy tool that keeps you from moving forward? Is your website delivering real value not only to your members or supporters, but to you, as an organization? Is your content getting to audiences where they are — on digital channels — and are they engaging with it in a way that delivers value for your organization? COVID-19 has forced many organizations to move to digital fast. Some of these shifts should be permanent. Your organization needs to explore what should remain, what should change, and what should revert.

The Right Time Is Right Now

For associations and nonprofits, 2020 has been a challenge. Now is the time to brainstorm. To be proactive instead of reactive later. Shift your perspective and focus on this time as an opportunity to look ahead. Your members and supporters are ready for 2021. Take the next step right now.

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Beyond Definition

Beyond Definition is a strategy and creative agency serving mission-driven organizations. For 16 years, Beyond Definition has offered design, branding, digital, marketing, and print expertise to clients in the association, foundation, and nonprofit sectors.

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