The Future of Associations

Alyssa KirkmanWater Cooler Chat

Wendy-Jo Toyama, MBA, CAE headshot
Wendy-Jo Toyama, MBA, CAE headshot

Wendy-Jo Toyama, MBA, CAE

Last week, I gathered with other association CEOs for an opportunity to network and to earn some continuing education from sessions such as “The Future of the Association Business Model.” For associations, the landscape is changing as millennials move into leadership and we prepare to have five generations in the workforce.  Technology and the sheer volume of content – “content shock” – are also forcing associations to consider new and different models.  Boundaries are becoming blurry; there are reduced barriers for others to offer the same benefits and services that we offer. That means associations need to be innovative and nimble.

Through a survey the speaker conducted, he shared that associations are examining ways to extend market reach. Three methods were cited, 1) cooperating with other organizations, 2) changing the membership model or 3) adding new membership categories. Associations need to think about change management, not just the status quo and content management. A place to begin is to ask where current success is built on a structural barrier.

I also attended the following panels: “Inclusion: Next Steps for Associations,” “Board Governance,” and “What Makes a Great CEO?” Content and comments informed several ACPA projects underway. Two examples include the Membership Committee’s nascent efforts to forge a Diversity and Inclusion path for ACPA and the Nominating Process Review Task Force’s efforts to enhance the governance related to ACPA’s nominations and elections for ACPA Board of Directors. As for what makes a great CEO, I would like to ask for feedback from you on that front – email me at I am open to feedback and suggestions.

It is powerful to talk to others who do what I do and a reminder of the value we bring to our attendees at ACPA’s Annual Meeting.