Look for the shared purpose, shared culture and for confidence in the leadership. Here are some questions to ask of associations before you become involved:

While 21st Century organizations are formed because of common purposes and goals, not all associations function effectively despite their lofty ambitions. The most critical factor that makes some of these organizations more effective is “trust.” Much has been written about trust. It is recommended that a trust assessment be conducted before investing time and money in an association. This is prudent behavior. Look for the shared purpose, shared culture and for confidence in the leadership. Here are some questions to ask of associations before you become involved:

  • How involved are volunteers in the association? What is the turnover rate? What percentages are involved locally and nationally?

  • How much of my membership dollar goes into administrative overhead? Exactly how is my dollar divided? What are the priorities of the budget for these changing times?

  • Who are the leaders and what are their qualifications? Are these the leaders that peers respect the most?

  • What barriers are associated with involvement in the leadership activities?

  • Does the association board have a strategic plan? Is it available to see? How does the board measure success? How does it communicate that to the membership?

  • What mechanisms does the association have to understand the membership’s changing needs? Does it have a way to get timely and meaningful feedback on the services it offers?

  • How does the association explain the value of membership in terms of return on investment?

  • Could I have sample copies of the last three newsletters so that I can determine whether the association’s emphasis is relevant to my own professional work situation?

  • How do I qualify for professional status? What credentials does the association offer? How do I maintain my qualifications?

Once design professionals choose to join a professional association, they are likely to continue to retain their membership. About 25 percent of first-year members will choose to drop out, but thereafter membership retention is normally around 92 percent. Still, each design professional retains the choice of whether to continue to be a member of the association. To ensure that the association is accountable to their needs, members should assess the quality of communications from the leadership to members, from the association to the public, and between the staff and the members. Such communication plans, often in place within the association, are crucial because without them associations flop around without strategic continuity from year to year. Without continuity, the association creates needless inefficiency, waste and inconsistent service. Members quickly see the difference.

Source: Greenway Consulting