3 Top Challenges Associations Are Facing Today - With Solutions From Our Experts

3 Top Challenges Associations Are Facing Today - With Solutions From Our Experts | MCI Group | Events

Calendar icon November, 12 2020

There are multiple trends reshaping our world daily. They are more numerous than before because the world has never been so educated, mobile and innovative. They have also become more complex and intertwined.

Here, we want to focus on 3 big challenges affecting associations as you grapple with the “New Normal” and the “Digital Revolution”.  

To make sure you don’t miss any opportunities to grow and connect with your members and customers, we’ve asked 3 of our global experts to share their advice on how to overcome those challenges. 

Challenge 1: Adapting the association’s organisational structure and business model  

COVID-19 has been an accelerator for change. It is a catalyst for associations to rethink relevance, way of working and business model. But many associations – particularly small ones – are struggling to keep up or to sustain this kind of acceleration.  

Solution: Embrace a digital and user experience mindset 

“Our VUCA world has been greater impacted by the pandemic, and has created a sense of urgency for action.  

Associations are fighting for sustainability and in some cases, survival. Part of the ongoing strategy for associations must include digital and a crystallisation of mission, vision and goals.  

With a lesser market audience and share, it is especially key for small-sized associations to look beyond what they have always done and to create a new paradigm.  

That’s why we pivot our partner association’s mindset to embrace digital and build from a user experience perspective. Our approach analyses at all association elements to expedite the development of new and enhanced programs, partnerships, products and services.” 

amy burke

Amy Lestition Burke, Senior Vice President, Engagement, MCI USA

Challenge 2: Strengthening engagement and enhancing value to their community 

Many associations are seeing their stakeholder engagement levels dwindling in this fast-changing world.  

However, human values and interaction are still at the core of a successful organisation.  

You must be able to listen to your members and customers’ needs, expectations and values, particularly when it comes to the younger generations. 

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Solution:  Make innovation and investment your top priority 

“The risk association are running nowadays is to lose their relevancy. 

The web has not only allowed access to other sources, but corporates have proved to be more agile and innovative to offer better solutions than associations.   

Association leaders should make innovation and investment their top priorities to close this gap. They should not only listen to their members and industry partners carefully, but also observe who is offering similar values.  

Strengthening two-way engagement with members and include allied professions in events and content driven platforms is key.   

Operating like a business and ensuring an ROI on everything is equally a must.   

The new generation of members will engage only if they’re provided with the experiences they care about. They can drive innovation and engagement in new directions, but there must be a clear engagement and support plan. 

This requires fast moving activities and swift and constant changes.” 

marcel ewals

Marcel Ewals, Director Association Management & Consulting APAC, MCI Singapore 

Challenge 3: Growing or driving revenues in this new “virtual world” 

Meeting face-to-face has been the core and backbone of the association model for decades.

Now that the pandemic has put a stop to this model, you need to look at and embrace new revenue generation strategies for your virtual events. 

Solution: Reach beyond the ‘converted’ 

“Many associations have set the step to transform their physical events into virtual meetings. 

However, this step towards virtual events is only the beginning of a much larger digital business transformation that may offer many more opportunities for international growth. 

Virtual is a volume business. Online platforms and channels have no audience limitation. There are no travel cost impediments for international audiences to access and purchase. 

That’s why we help associations to reach beyond the ‘converted’, and to fulfil the demand from many more members and customers for curated and trusted content.”

jeroen van liempd

Jeroen Van Liempd, Director Association Management & Business Transformation, MCI Brussels 

It’s the perfect time to relook, rethink and renew. 

If you have put off asking those painful questions or have been ignoring challenges, now is the moment to explore new engagement models, design a targeted and customised experience for your stakeholders, and underpin your operations with intelligent technologies. 

Are you looking to transform your association? F.A.S.T.© by MCI is a 12-week consulting programme for associations to help them transform and thrive in the digital age. For more information visit


karine desbant

karine desbant
Karine Desbant

Global Marketing & Communication Manager - Association Market

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