Most of us have accepted being overly busy as just another unfortunate fact of life today. Emails on your phone, meetings with staff and members halfway around the world, taking your laptop home from work, not quite getting to that extra member program you wanted to start.
It’s all just part of the daily routine, and it’s not unusual for many organizations to be stretched thin when it comes to both time and resources. It’s tough to juggle your myriad of daily responsibilities, like member communication, continuing education, records updates, and event planning, not to mention monthly and yearly goals.
Not all areas where association executives spend their time carry equal weight. There may even be instances when you’re so pressed for time that quality suffers, and many of these daily tasks that associations do, while necessary, don’t contribute to providing members with value and keeping them engaged. Some lower-level tasks such as data entry don’t even utilize the skills and potential of your staff – yet they need to be done.
Luckily, associations have become accustomed to pulling in outside people to help them with both tactical and strategic functions. Association management services from consultants and technology vendors are designed to remove lower-level tasks from your to-do list, so your team can reach its full potential and devote more time to providing members with value. These additional services can take care of all the little business tasks that you need to do so you can get hours back in your day.
7 Useful Association Management Services
Association management services are provided by a variety of companies, including association management companies (AMC), consultants, contractors, and technology vendors. Here are seven of the most common, and useful, association management services.
Service #1) Membership Administration Management
A basic and sometimes tedious task, membership management involves maintaining member records, processing membership requests, and tracking dues, all of which is usually done in an association management database system (AMS). Membership administration as a service takes care of all these tasks. They can also include report generation and a few higher-level tasks such as strategic advice or planning to better help you devote more time to your members.
One of the main benefits of member administration management as a service is that it frees up time so your staff can devote themselves to strategic initiatives like creating new member acquisition drives. Strategic initiatives are a better use of your team’s skills and membership knowledge.
Service #2) Content Management and Creation
In an SEO-driven, digital world, content is key to getting found and drawing members in to your association. It is consistently one of the top member benefits (i.e. reasons people join and remain members).
It also takes a lot of work to do well, which is why content management and creation is a popular service.
Content management services are typically a monthly or yearly subscription service, and usually include content creation based on word count, topic, and voice. Hiring people to write blogs is a popular option, but content services can also include updates to your current website, creating video, or online community content.
Service #3) Online Community Management
While community management may be a fun job, it’s also a lot of work. It can be especially tough if you have never been trained in community management or if it is only a portion of your job.
Expert community management services provide dedicated professionals that post blog articles and spur new member-generated forum threads in your online community, as well as answering community questions. Additionally, community managers can create and distribute a community newsletter, moderate comments and other community activity, and generate reports about member engagement.
If you have an active online community, then your staff is likely spending a lot of time managing it – time that they could devote to creating even more value. On the other hand, if your community is stalling, your staff may be spending extra time trying to jumpstart participation.
By utilizing online community management as a service, you can get help in both situations. Active communities will be well cared for, and stalled communities will get professional, comprehensive help to become vibrant places for members to network and get exclusive information from your organization. In both cases, you’ll gain back time and key personnel resources.
Service #4) Meeting and Event Management
Planning large (or even small) events often requires a full team, which is why your on-staff meeting planners need all the help they can get. Service providers offer event planning, management, and execution packages. You can bring on people to help with small tasks, like contract negotiation and housing coordination, or they can see your event through from start to finish. You can also get registration and chapter event support. Additional services that may be included are event booth and sponsorship sales.
Professional meeting planners know all the tricks of the trade, including the best event locations, hotels, and times to hold conferences. By outsourcing your entire event, or even just augmenting your existing team where needed, you’ll gain this extra, professional expertise.
Service #5) Marketing and Communication Strategy Development
Similar to event management, marketing and communication plans can often be optimized by experts. As a service, marketing and communication strategy development is done by experienced professionals who are familiar with different associations and their members’ needs. These experts will develop survey, website, and email tactics to promote your association and its programs.
Whether or not you will need to implement the marketing strategy yourself depends on the consultant, AMC, or technology vendor you use. Some provide full services and will both develop and distribute marketing and communication materials for you. Then, they’ll analyze the results and optimize your messages and media for the next campaign.
Service #6) Technical Support
Regardless of your level of technical expertise, building out, integrating, and configuring your technology platforms can be daunting, even if it’s just in terms of the time you need to spend doing it. Technical support helps with this by taking the weight of website maintenance, community page updates, and seamless integrations off of you.
Support services may also provide more extensive assistance with association management system expansion, digital design services, creating and modifying CMS pages, custom website support, and report generation. Services with these options will help you save time and configure your technology platforms to fit your organization’s brand and goals.
Service #7) Financial Management
We all know that managing cash flow is an essential daily task that can quickly sap up a lot of your team’s time. Financial management services take the responsibility off your team by managing client funds and financial planning, developing budgets, processing payables and receivables, and generating monthly financial statements.
Association management service providers bring a new perspective to your finances as well, and can help you spot opportunities to manage your funds more efficiently. These opportunities often come out in budgets, and could help you save money or rearrange priorities to put money where you need it most.
Association Management Services Takeaway
Even fully-staffed associations don’t have to go it alone. These common association management services are provided by industry experts and will help you free up time and meet your organization’s objectives.
There’s an extra benefit to services provided by association technology vendors as opposed to others in the industry. With services from a technology vendor, such as an AMS software company, you not only get experts in the field, you get experts who know your AMS software. If your professional meeting planner has a question about the event registration portion of your AMS software, they’ll just walk to the other side of the office and ask the developer.
AMS services don’t have to be expensive. By purchasing services individually, you can pick and choose what your association needs to make the most of its resources, including its staff and their expertise. That means that outsourcing your association management functions does not take away jobs, it improves daily management tasks and allows both you and your passionate staff to focus on your members.