This content originally appeared on, published November 20th, 2023.

To stay relevant to members in 2024, associations need to adapt to the evolving landscape of technology, demographics, and societal changes. There have been seismic shifts in our culture over the last few years, and new opportunities abound for member engagement and growth.

Here are seven strategies association leaders might consider for next year:

1. Embrace Technology

Digital Transformation: Invest in digital technologies to streamline operations, enhance member experience, and stay connected. Associations have the advantage of having access to PII (personally identifiable information) for their memberbase, which means not only do associations have what we call an “addressable audience” – one you can market to directly at minimal expense – but associations have a great starting point for enriching this first-party dataset to better serve members – and to use tools like marketing automation to drive non-dues revenue and leverage the audience of your members through advocacy.

Online Platforms: Develop user-friendly websites, mobile apps, and social media channels to engage members and provide easy access to resources. There is a difference between a responsive web experience, and a mobile-first web experience. If your approach to designing digital experiences still starts with the desktop, association leaders may want to consider shifting this mindset. If you’re still waiting to develop a mobile app – this is the year to do it. Member mobile apps – either Native or PWA – enable a direct channel to an addressable audience that will most likely outperform email, using tools like push notifications, text alerts, and mobile alerts. The more “social” these mobile experiences are, the more likely you will be to see higher member engagement – enabling members to connect to each other and to your association in a way that is familiar to them, like their Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or TikTok experiences.

2. Personalization

Tailored Content: Use data analytics to understand member preferences and deliver personalized content, services, and experiences. Once you are able to enrich your member data set beyond just name, address and email and include behavioral information – this can be leveraged to deliver the right message to the right member at that right time in their member journey . . . and is an incredibly efficient way to drive the member behaviors your association is looking for.

Customized Learning: Offer personalized educational and training programs to cater to diverse member needs. Like other content, personalizing education, certification and course material can help automate the process of guiding members on their specific, personal journey with your association.

3. Community Building

Online Communities: Foster virtual communities where members can connect, share insights, and collaborate. One of the biggest value drivers for association members is connecting and collaborating with other members. While this is likely already happening with your members on places like Facebook, your association should be providing the virtual space to enable this – and importantly, to take credit for delivering this value to members.

Events and Networking: Host virtual and hybrid events, webinars, and conferences to facilitate networking opportunities. Post-Covid, members are looking to connect again, both virtually and in-person.

4. Advocacy and Thought Leadership

Staying Informed: Keep abreast of industry trends, policy changes, and technological advancements to provide relevant insights to members. Associations should be leading the charge here, and providing helpful, informative content, tools and experiences to members that help them stay out in front of their industry.

Advocacy Campaigns: Advocate for members’ interests and contribute to discussions shaping the future of the industry or profession. Leveraging your members to help with this can be a very effective path forward to progress for associations with limited resources, and your members will appreciate the opportunity to be involved, and to contribute to their industry or profession.

5. Continuous Learning and Skill Development

Lifelong Learning Programs: Develop ongoing education programs to help members stay current in their field and adapt to new challenges. Integrating ongoing education can be a steep hill to climb for many resource-strapped associations, due to the amount of content required and the technology to deliver it – but investing in online education programs will lead to higher member engagement and satisfaction.

Skill Certification: Offer certifications, micro-certifications, or badges that validate members’ skills and competencies. The perception of many institutions – journalism, government, higher education – and even associations – is at a fairly negative place in our society, and helping to provide a credible source of endorsement for members’ skills, knowledge, and experience beyond their college degree is highly valuable both to members and employers.

6. Data Security and Privacy

Compliance: Stay abreast of data protection regulations and ensure that member data is handled securely and in compliance with privacy laws.

Privacy: Develop agile governance structures that can quickly respond to changes in the industry, regulations, or member needs. GDPR, CCPA and other privacy legislation is a continuous moving target at this point. Be sure you are protecting your member information, and giving them the opportunity to control what information is being used and how it is being used.

7. Feedback Mechanisms

Member Surveys: Regularly seek feedback from members to understand their needs and satisfaction levels. Member data (analytics) can tell us a lot about behaviors, but member research is required to fully understand what is motivating those behaviors.

Agile Response: Act on feedback promptly to demonstrate responsiveness and commitment to member satisfaction. Merchandise the fact that you are hearing the voice of your membership through research and data back to members, so they know that their voice matters.

By proactively addressing these seven areas, associations can enhance their relevance, attract new members, and retain existing members in the dynamic landscape of 2024 – and beyond!