Analyzing (and Changing) the Association Strategy Environment

Posted By: Donna Oser, CAE Blog, Industry,

To survive and thrive, associations must anticipate and address the changes in our members' environments. Association Laboratory recently released the executive summary of the environmental scan of the association strategy environment (the forces impacting association members) it conducts each year, Looking Forward® Impact. The findings will be of particular interest to association leaders attuned to how dramatic changes in the environments of the industries they serve demand changes to association value propositions.  

About the Environmental Scan

Looking Forward® Impact provides an ongoing picture of the forces influencing members' professional and business environment and the implications on association strategy and the association business model. Association Laboratory developed and deployed an online survey directly and via collaboration with the company's Research Alliance partners; data collection occurred between November 22, 2023, and January 8, 2024. A total of 264 individuals took part in the survey. 

Key Findings 

Association leaders identified the following factors as the top five environmental impacting association members:

  1. Identifying, recruiting, or retaining qualified staff
  2. Assessing and adapting to current and emerging artificial intelligence tools
  3. Ensuring the privacy and security of data
  4. Creating an attractive career path
  5. Regulatory oversight, compliance costs, or requirements

When presented with issues unique to members of professional societies, their leaders ranked Changing social, economic, or demographic characteristics of the people our members serve (60%), Artificial intelligence to examine large datasets to inform decisions (59%), and Creating an attractive career path (57%) as forces significantly impacting their members.   

When presented with issues unique to members of trade associations, their leaders ranked Changing needs or buying preferences of the customers our members serve (61%), Artificial intelligence for predictive monitoring, performance modeling, etc. (58%), and Changing size, type, or characteristics of the customers our members serve (34%) as forces significantly impacting their members. 

Next Steps

Check out, customize, and download the full environmental scan via the Looking Forward® Dashboard. The Dashboard gives association leaders, your staff, and volunteer leaders unique access to the most recent, relevant, and valuable association sector data. Don't have time to slice and dice the data? No worries - Association Laboratory has provided everything needed to explore these critical findings in a complimentary discussion guide and high-level Executive Summary.