Association boards love to make strategy, but they are often reluctant to adequately invest in those strategies when the time comes. Even after a rough patch, associations in North America are sitting on bigger financial reserves than in any time in history. Yet, the hangover of a few lean years has many association boards in cost cutting mode. It is the obligation of association boards to:
- Make decisions that will grow organizations and sustain their mandates
- Make decisions that will bind future boards
- Invest their members’ money (because that’s what reserves are) on their behalf
We have seen many association clients shrink themselves to irrelevance while they watch their reserves dwindle over a painful decade or more. Like a cycle of death, association boards see a decline in attendance or an increase in competition for example for their conference or professional development. Instead of investing in future innovation, growth or alternate revenue sources they cut expenses to make up for revenue shortfalls. The result is that the conference or PD becomes less valuable to members and revenue drops further. Next comes the decision to drop prices because the board no longer trusts their value proposition…and the cycle continues.
Association board members: your paid staff need you to make and invest in big strategic decisions. They need your leadership to take real, but calculated, risks for the long term sustainability of your organization.