What has your Association Done for You Lately?

Associations do little for event planners

Cliché question, yes… one that meeting and event planners should ask and answer because your association may be starting to hang around your neck like some bad boyfriend straight out of a made for TV movie.

I am sure that you can answer what you have done for your association lately:

  • Given them your hard earned money
  • Volunteered to sit on some committee
  • Attended that freaking awful networking event
  • Given them more of your money

That is all well and good but if you cannot answer what your association has done for you today, yesterday or in the past few months…. Maybe it is time to part ways, find new digs and a new place to hang your “association member” hat.

Think about it… you spend  $100, $200, $400 or $1000 dollars on membership, and even more throughout the year and what do you really get in return… a crappy quarterly magazine, the occasional crappy networking event, crappy  marketing emails from every company they have sold your name too, crappy educational offerings and the ever popular crappy annual event….

Whoopee shit my friend.. in essence you are paying top dollar for a steaming pile of crap and they expect you to love it, they expect you to be there and they take you for granted.

Maybe it is time to walk away from this really bad relationship, this dysfunctional nightmare.

Oh, the old association will come sniffing around, they will whine and they will cry and they might even plead for you to take them back telling you how they have changed… but be strong, you can live without them.

You can do it, you have been living without them since the day you joined.

About the author

Keith Johnston

Keith Johnston is the Publisher and Chief Writer Guy of PlannerWire | You can learn more about him here , connect with him on Twitter , Facebook , Google + and LinkedIn.


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  • Keith-interesting post. Before throwing in the towel on your association, chamber of commerce, or any member association, how about providing feedback? No news is bad news as far as this group is concerned- if you don’t like newsletter content, magazines are poorly written and events are a waste of time, take action and let them know what products and service you DO want. If it’s a skeleton staff or small organization, ask how you can help. Give them a chance to make good and keep them accountable. No change? Nobody listening? Then, by all means, huck the towel.

    E. Rice

    • While I do appreciate that many orgs have small staffs, you are putting it back on the member again and absolving them of responsibility because they choose to stick their head in the sand and not go out and ask… members speak all the time, they may not do it directly so it really is the member orgs job to actively go and and find out what the members want.

      While I may agree with you and let the smaller staffed organizations off the hook for a “little” of the blame, what about the huge mega associations that have plenty of staff to go out and seek what it is the members wants and needs are.

      What must be remembered is that for every person you hear from, there is the silent majority that will never speak up!

  • Keith, you should tell us how you REALLY feel, dude. Don’t hold back.
    I suspect there are more than a few association heads quaking in their boots right about now. Nothing like a good kick in the arse to get things moving…

      • You are probably right about a lot of them… All jokes aside, I think voices like yours are important if for no other reason than to take the temperature and see if others out there like you feel the same way. Muckraking – it’s at the heart of many a great social movements. I did not realize just how grim the association scene was, and I wonder how widespread the sentiment is throughout different industries…

        I ALWAYS appreciate hearing from someone who is prepared to shake things up. 

  • My association has:
    – commented on my blog posts
    – provided beneficial pricing to a number of live events (that justified my membership)
    – attracts others like me that I really enjoy hanging with 
    – re-tweeted my good stuff and that of others
    – called and asked for my advice on how to make things better
    – live streamed stuff I used to pay extra for 
    – friended me on Facebook (people not brand) without asking me to like their page

    It wasn’t always that way and its not like that with the others I’m a member of. There’s good options out there, one just needs to be a bit more selective these days. 

    Some associations suck and are living like they’re still in the 1990’s. For ones that are genuinely trying and want to be around in 5 years, they’ll be rewarded with loyalty and great word of mouth. 

    I’m off to get my PCMA tattoo! Later!

    • Look at Dave… Luvin on the PCMA…..

      I am actually glad that you posted this comment because it is so REFRESHING to hear someone that is happy with an association that they belong too.

      It gives everyone hope that their are groups out there that care more about the members than the bottom line.

      I did say in the post that if someone isn’t happy with their association, perhaps it is time to find a new one and perhaps this is it!

  • Finding out what makes people want to join an association and what makes them happy or unhappy about their membership, is our (Noordam & De Vries, an agency based in the old center of Amsterdam) core business. Like in the States, most of the associations here in Holland have a vast silent majority. And I’m sure that for many members paying the annual subscription is about the only activity that links them to their association. Yet, there a several sings that indicate that many people still value the concept ‘association’. In fact several Dutch associations in the world of sports and broadcasting (and political parties for that matter), saw a significant increase in membership numbers in recent years and professional- and branch associations in general keep up to par. So somehow people still find reasons to get together in associations. We only think these reasons might be more irrational (or emotional) than many care to admit. One example: a few months ago a Dutch public broadcasting corporation, VPRO, asked its members (here in Holland public broadcasting corporations are associations with members) to give financial support to a plan to purchase a sculpture of a giant turd (Stationnement gênant, by the Dutch artist Wim T. Schippers). The appeal was successful. In June the VPRO was able to purchase this sculpture for 60.000 euro (84.858 $). Now, if that’s not love for ….

  • Just catching up with some of your posts, Keith, and this goes along with some mighty good and contentious conversation about MPI raising supplier dues.

    I’m a long time member of MPI, PCMA and ASAE – and am or have been very active (no .. really very active!) in all. Currently I serve as Chair of ASAE’s Ethics Cmte. 

    The ability to impact change is what these associations have given to me/done for me, with my cooperation.

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