Community Building

How to implement your association management

Association management

Whether it is in a charity, sports club, or another entertaining context, everyone has already been part of an association, at least once in their lifetime.

If you’ve already been involved in managing an association, you must know how difficult and varied the tasks are: communicating with the members, organizing events, managing memberships, liaising with the board, managing the day-to-day operations, etc.

Daunting, isn’t it? This article is dedicated to people who have decided to start their own association, or those who feel their current association management strategy could use some spring cleaning.

How do you create a board and assign clear tasks?

Managing an association is not easy, because members are already very busy with their own lives, and they are not always ready to give a hand. Also, associations can rarely afford to hire a full time employee to take care of everything. Thankfully, in every community, some members are very excited about taking part in the management and offering their help.

Your first task is to identify these people and get them onboard. To this end, you can organize a first meeting with all your potential members during which you will ‘launch’ the association, share the purpose and operating mode of your association, and answer the questions of your members. During this meeting, you can easily ask your members if there are volunteers to become part of the board.

First board meeting: how to assign clear roles and tasks?

During your first board meeting, start by clearly specifying together all the tasks involved in managing the association. Then, define the different roles required in the association, and which tasks are part of each role.
In a second step, the roles have to be distributed between the board members according to their skills and their convenience. Make sure the members choose a role they are happy to assume.

Finally, each board member should understand very clearly what role she is assigned to, whom she reports to, and what is expected of her.

How do you communicate with your board?

This is the beginning of a relationship with a group solely motivated by the purpose of the association. So don’t forget you are not the HR director of a company. Even if you are the president, the treasurer or have another important role in the association, you cannot make any decision on your own. Your decisions have to be discussed, and a consensus be reached. Every member of the board should be able to contest your views.

In general, avoid being too formal, as your relationship shouldn’t remind your board members of a job, but of good times: call them by their first name and keep your meetings as friendly as possible by scheduling a light agenda. Your meetings shouldn’t last more than 2 hours, and be accompanied with food and drinks for everyone. Never forget to acknowledge and congratulate on the efforts of your board. At the end of every meeting, take some time with the board members to enjoy a beer in a pub, or a dinner in a restaurant.

In terms of communication tools, use emails sporadically - we all receive too many already - and try to go for something more in today’s trends: a mobile messaging app such as “WhatsApp” or “Facebook Messenger” can do the trick, or if you have a small budget, nowadays you can even get your dedicated messaging app for a very fair price.

How to manage and communicate with all your members?

Board management is an important component, but in order to manage your association efficiently, you also have to implement a proper communication system to interact with all your members.

Nowadays, most associations and clubs are using emails to interact with their members, which was good enough 10 years ago. But today, it is in my opinion a big strategic mistake. As already mentioned, people receive too many emails already. Also, they are not paying as much attention to their mailbox as to their phone. In terms of management, small staffed organizations cannot manage their memberships from a spreadsheet. It is time consuming and lacks key features that can streamline an association’s daily operations.

For these reasons, implementing one’s own communication and management system is by far the best solution. Solutions exist to help you in all aspects: interact with your members, make public announcements, schedule your events, manage your member directory, allow your members to meet and interact with each other, etc.

I would highly recommend a mobile-first solution, for it ensures a better outreach, and is generally more simple to use than conventional online platforms.

Private mobile apps can be a real game changer in the way you interact with your members in the association and most importantly, in how members interact with each other.

What about you? How are you managing your association? Do you have any tools you’d like to recommend? Please share your tips with us!