Board Disruptors: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Association boards are made up of volunteers who are donating their time to the organization, so dealing with a problematic president, churlish chair or disagreeable director can be tricky. Unlike employees, they can’t just be taken off the payroll – they aren’t on it.

One place to start is by focusing on the positive aspects of our relationship with these disruptive folks – the way they have forced us to develop the skills that make us more effective association executives. Here are a few disruptors you’ve most certainly met. We’ve assigned each prototype a gender, but they come in all sizes, shapes and sexes.

Come On, Get Appy: Life Hacks for Conference Apps

Ten years after “There’s an app for that” became a household phrase, there really is an app for just about everything, including things the folks at Apple probably hadn’t thought of when they coined the slogan.

Not only are apps everywhere, they’ve become more versatile – and so have their users.

This is especially true of event and conference apps. Once considered an expensive extra, they’ve become as essential to many associations’ event plans as name badges and sponsorship packages.

If you’ve used a conference app, you know what’s in them: the schedule, presenter bios, venue map, attendee list, sponsor and exhibitor information, and the all-important post-conference survey. Depending on the event and the budget, the app might also have functions for rating presenters, voting on “people’s choice” awards, and earning points in a scavenger hunt or similar game.

To Free Or Not To Free: Exploring Non-Dues Memberships

The rules of member engagement are changing. “Everybody does it” is no longer a strong enough reason to compel people to join your association. That’s why membership incentives are more popular than ever.

In today’s world of social media and the tools that surround it, anyone can form a group or a following. If so, should people have to pay to belong?

A recent, bold incentive that some professional and trade associations have tried is free membership – who doesn’t love a freebie? While it sounds cutting edge, ADG went on a mission to find out who is doing it and how they make it work.

The end result of our search? We have yet to find an association that charges no dues at all. Even those with mostly free memberships have one or more premium options.

The Power of the Pod: Grow Your Association With Podcasting

Even if you’ve never heard one, you probably know about podcasts – downloadable audio files on a variety of topics, from crime to comedy, politics to pop culture. A recent New York magazine cover story on the podcast phenomenon estimated there are now about 660,000 podcasts in production, reaching more than 60 million listeners.

Podcasting was born in the mid-2000s, shortly after the first portable mp3 players hit the market. The word “podcast” is a portmanteau of “broadcast” and “iPod,” making it a somewhat archaic term, as nowadays most of us listen to them on smartphones, not iPods.

Associations have begun discovering the power of podcasts as a tool to reach members, other stakeholders and the public. We don’t expect them to replace other communications media, but they can go places where others can’t – literally.

Unlike videos and webinars that are best watched, and newsletters that must be read, podcasts don’t require eyeballs – just ears. They can be consumed in the car, on the job, at the gym and anywhere else a smartphone can go.