The One Word Solution To Avoid Mission Drift

As a company with technology at its core, we are always keeping an eye on the big picture trends. Over the past few years, one trend that continues to pick up steam is the shift towards integrations.

Rather than trying to meet every possible need of your customers, integrations allow you to focus on your area of expertise. You then find partners with complementary offerings and create a seamless connection between products for your customers. The theory goes that by specializing in one particular niche, you are able to do it better than anyone else. And when you work with companies that share this philosophy, it creates a better overall experience for your customers.

Applying This Idea to Your Association

The benefits of this approach go far beyond software development. In fact, I started to think about how useful this thinking can be to our customers, as well. How much of what your association does is core to its mission, and how much of your staff’s time is spent on efforts that don’t support your overall goals? This “mission drift” is a common issue in the non-profit world. A project that may have started as a one-time request might now be an established offering. Over time, these seemingly small distractions can add up. Think about the priorities these non-essential tasks have kept your organization from completing.

The fix for mission drift begins with a fresh look at your association’s mission statement. How well does your mission support what your members see as your true value? Areas that your staff spends time on that don’t support these outcomes provide a good starting point to ask, “Is this something we should be offering?” You may also explore if there are others that can provide this service better than you currently do.

For Omnipress, our core mission is to help associations deliver educational content to their members. Over the years, the tools we use have changed, but this central focus remains. In fact, before we offer a new product or develop a new feature of CATALYST, we ensure it will support our goal. It’s also critical that we believe we can provide this service to our customers better than anyone else can. If the answer to either of these questions is “no,” we’ll look for a partner that can help us provide the best possible experience for our customers.

Avoiding Mission Drift

Saying “no” is often harder than saying “yes” to a member. It is, however, necessary. Avoiding mission drift, especially in the non-profit world, is essential if you want to be able to deliver on your goals. For each association the answer about which areas to focus on will be different. For Omnipress though, our mission has remained the same for over 40 years: To help your association deliver the content your members value.

What Value Does Your Association Truly Bring? 5 Ways to Find Out

Working in the non-profit and association industry, there is always that one question that you get asked. The question that, in all reality, is the basis for why our organizations do what they do: What value does your association bring to its members?

We all think we have that perfect elevator pitch we can rattle off to prospective members or even just to answer a random inquiring mind. But does your answer truly represent the value that you bring to your members? This question is something that must be answered with 100% certainty if you want your organization to continue to be successful, especially in a time where members expect clear and concise return on their investment of time and money.

Here are Five Ways to Find Out What Value Your Association Truly Brings:

Surveys

This is probably the most obvious and measurable way to get a true feeling of the value that your association brings. You’re able to send it out to your entire membership database, segment by multiple influencing factors like industry (if applicable), how many years they’ve been a member and even job title. You’ll be able to find some very interesting correlations between various segmentations. One thing to keep in mind about this tactic is that the way you write the questions for the survey typically have huge impacts on how people answer. You want your questions to be very non-influential.For example: Don’t have a question about what is the biggest value they see in being a member of your association and then give a multiple choice answer key. Leave that question as an open blank so they can answer in their own words. If you guide their answers, you’re likely to get the answer you think you already know.

In-person “interview”

One of the most effective ways to get some very personal feedback is to do some informal, in-person interviews of various members. The key here is to choose a diverse selection of members. You want to choose members that have been with you for a long time, as well as new members and everything in between.Be sure you make it very clear to those you’re speaking with that you want to hear the good and the bad. The bad feedback you get from members may be the most valuable information you get during this project. Where can your association improve and fill holes in programs, conferences, etc.? Let your interviewees be very candid. Tell them to not hold back and to tell you like it is. You may not like what you hear immediately, but you’ll love the actions it will provide your leadership moving forward.

Check your referrals

This is one of the more unique ways of checking the value that your association brings, but it can also be one of the most effective. Take some time to meet with people that have become members through a referral of another member, as well as those who were the referrers. When a current member refers a new member to your association, it is absolutely because you showed them some type of value. They felt that their time and money was well-spent with your association because of some type of perceived value.It could potentially be a goldmine for your association if you can get to the bottom of why they referred someone else. It’s also important to talk to the person who was referred, because that will give you an idea of the perceived value the referrer gave them, and if that perceived value was correct.

Annual onboarding check-in

Every time you have a new member join your association, you should make a point to contact them directly one year after they join for two reasons. First, you’re obviously interested in member retainment. You want to keep those members who you worked so hard and spent so much time on converting.The second reason is because it’s a great way to make sure that the value they thought they would get from being a member is being fulfilled. There is really no better source for an honest assessment than a member that is new. If they feel like they’ve wasted their money by becoming a member, they’ll tell you by not renewing. They have no vested interest because they haven’t been a member long, so value is truly what becomes the deciding factor to renew or not (besides the cost of dues, of course).

Talk to members who didn’t renew

This might sound a little odd, or even intimidating, but reaching out to members who didn’t renew can be an incredibly valuable way to figure out where your organization does, and does not, offer value. Again, they have no vested interest because they’re no longer members, so you should be able to see where your association fell short and where it excels at bringing value. Don’t ever miss an opportunity to find weaknesses in your association, because fixing those weaknesses may be the key to stopping membership loss.

How does your association find out what value you are bringing to your members?