Expanding Associations

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A well-managed association will soon find (and need) opportunities to expand and build new ways to benefit its members.

Membership Drives

Associations have a core of members and supporters, but there is always room for more.  New members bring new perspectives, expand associations’ political capital, and increase revenue.  Therefore, membership drives are an important part of an association’s health and expansion.  These campaigns can take many forms depending on the association’s membership goals.  On-line or direct mail may find individual members and help an association’s grassroots work.  Focused efforts at trade shows, calling board members’ contacts, or outreach to “non-traditional” industry segments may develop more substantive and higher paying members.

Grau & Associates can develop several plans/scenarios to fit an association’s timing and new member goals.  G&A works with existing members, committees, and an association’s board to create messaging and collateral materials and oversee/manage the entire process.

Political Action Committees

Mature associations focused on public policy often establish political action committees or PACs.  PACs are organizations that raise private money (usually from the association’s membership) to influence elections or legislation.  Federal PACs are regulated strictly by the Federal Election Commission to assure transparency in dealings and avoidance of inappropriate influence to contribute money to the PAC.  Despite intense oversight, however, many groups establish, fund, and successfully leverage PACs toward reaching members’ policy goals.

Grau & Associates can guide an association’s internal organizing and subsequent FEC filing to create a PAC.  Thereafter, G&A will assure the PAC’s regulatory compliance and help manage the PAC’s fundraising and political expenditures/contributions.

New Partnerships

As an association expands, creating new partnerships underpins new programming, boosts political capital, and legitimizes new policy positions.  Unlike enrolling new members (as in a membership campaign) connecting with new partners means developing ties with different organizations:  private or public sector, for profit or non-profit.  New partners may be conduits to new members, “affinity” contractors offering members discounts on hotels, supplies, even insurance, or political partners whose own members or mission syncs with the association’s policy initiatives.

Grau & Associates stays attuned to its clients’ developing needs and opportunities and works toward meeting each by introducing new partnerships to the board and the membership at-large.  G&A fully vets new partnerships, helps create any necessary memoranda of understanding or operating agreements, and follows through by facilitating the partnership’s work, action items, and relationships.

Mission Shifts

As associations grow they may also change.  Similarly, so may the economy, the political landscape, or technological advancements.  As these things shift so may the association’s mission or vision.  Also, new circumstances may make an association’s work or one of its services more-or-less imperative for members.  Adjusting or adding a focus may be critical and disruptive.

Grau & Associates will coordinate the association’s internal communications and work to make such shifts efficient, effective, and according to the association’s by-laws.  G&A will develop an internal consensus for the shift, amend the necessary documents including the articles of incorporation, and develop any necessary external messaging to partners, vendors, target audiences, and the media.

Develop New Income Streams

Every association relies on membership dues, but as programs grow so does demand and the costs for meeting it.  Similarly, however, so does the opportunity to generate new streams of income beyond membership dues.  Such additional revenue may come from event attendance fees (that often offset the event’s costs), grants, continuing education fees, and even direct sales of logo shirts, mugs, umbrellas, etc.

Regardless of the association’s programming goals or ideas, Grau & Associates can develop appropriate alternate income business models and facilitate their execution.