When’s the last time you thought about why you started your association? What were the founder’s intentions? Do your current efforts align with your association’s mission? Understanding the answers to these questions not only help to provide direction for administrators but it can be a source of inspiration in a busy time.

Last month, David and I attended Associations North (AN) Annual Meeting and Expo (read a recap here). We gathered with over 400 exhibitors and attendees to network, learn and grow as association professionals. During the lunch hour, AN played a video that featured key executives and members of AN; they talked about associations and the benefits they offer to professionals and our communities.

Towards the end of the presentation, AN asked the group to give one word as to why they were part of AN (and associations in general) – here are a few words that stood out to me:

  • Collaborative
  • Inspiring
  • Learning
  • Sharing
  • Fun
  • Relationships
  • Valuable

These answers were great indicators to AN that members truly valued their efforts. If you could survey your current members, what would they say about your group? Would your work translate to keywords like these? If not, it may be time to take a step back and revisit your “why” – does it still resonate with the needs of your members? Is it the source of energy behind your actions? To help determine your association’s direction, consider the questions below.

How is my association valuable to the industry?

As experts in the industry, consider the needs of your field. What’s missing? Fill the gaps with helpful resources and engaging events.

What niche do I serve?

There’s an association for everything these days. To stand out, it’s important to find your niche. For example, if you’re a legal association, you’re probably competing with many other groups offering exactly the same thing you are. Instead of sharing the same rhetoric, determine your specialties and build your strategy around that.

What kind of resources do I offer that others do not?

Challenge yourself to create resources that are unique to your group. Resources could be documents, education courses, job boards or a member directory. For other ideas of what to include, check out this post >> 7 Tips for Choosing the Perfect Association Management Software
Now that you’ve thought about your why – think about the member’s why and a prospective member’s why.

“[Members] want to feel like they are supporting a cause,” says Renee Warren of Onboardly.

Make sure the purpose of your group is front and center so people can quickly understand what is so great about your group, whether that’s networking with professionals, serving the community or changing industry policies.

“If your audience knows that you love what you do [(aka your why)], they’ll want to support your enthusiasm by giving you their business”.

For more on best telling your association’s mission read this post >> How to tell your associations story.