Why Are Associations Important Right Now?
By Amy Thomasson, Marketing Director, Congress of Neurological Surgeons
Currently, association management professionals are reinventing, repurposing, and redefining our products, services, roles, and organizations in the midst of uncertainty. Changing times are trying times, and it can be difficult to find positivity in a pandemic.
Personally, when facing chaos and confusion, I find that leaning into my ‘why’ or purpose provides me with clarity. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you lived and lived well. Circumstance does not make the man. Circumstance reveals the man to himself.”
As a community, I hope that we can be motivated, find unity, and share in the positivity that comes from thinking about the collective purpose of associations in times of need. That’s why I asked association thought leaders to share their answers to the question: why are associations important right now?
- Lindsey Nelson, National Automatic Merchandising Association: “Advocacy and general ‘sense-making.’ Things are changing by the minute, and to have a resource that can interpret what is happening, make sense of it, and activate an entire industry in a singular, unified direction in response, is tremendously powerful.”
- Jacqualine Price Osafo, AHIMA: “Associations are and continue to be the voice of their respective industries. They advocate on behalf and greater good of the general public. Collectively, association members move the legislative needle!”
- Allison Lundberg, American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, “We are finding that so much needs attention in the medical arena. Being able to advocate for the members of our medical society while they are working feverishly to help the public allows us to play a truly important part in what they do.”
- Melody Hillman, Construction Association of Nova Scotia: “Advocacy and lobbying are important now more than ever, as well as effective, industry-specific communication of news, regulation changes and updates.”
- Michael Hoffman, Gather Voices: “I heard former ASAE president and CEO John Graham say that there is nothing that you sit on, drive in, drive through, walk on, fly in, eat from, login to, etc. that wasn't influenced by an association who set the standards.”
- Nikki Golden, AAOS: “Because someone has already figured out a way to solve that problem you're wrestling with--associations are here to help solve problems and make the industry they serve more viable and vibrant!”
- Burt Blanchard, B.B.C. Ltd: “By definition, an association means a group of people organized for a joint purpose, with synonyms like ‘interrelationship, connection, interdependence, bond, tie, and relationship.’ How fitting, given our current conditions and global state we find ourselves. Now, more than ever, associations are needed as a lifeline to masses, which includes members, students, and the public at large. Without associations, how can a person research what are the signs of a stroke? Find a lawyer? Or for members, connect to a colleague for advice, best practices, et al. The power of associations is the power of connectedness, which we all need now!”
- Pon Angara, Barkada Circle: “Connection. Our changing world not only creates challenges, but is also helping us realize a shared narrative that provides a strong base for collaboration. By sharing stories, knowledge, and resources, associations can help their members take this opportunity to be transformed and to build a community that achieves a higher collective mission.”
- Lidia Varesco Racoma, Lidia Varesco Design: “We are able to provide virtual connection and support, even though our current environment is keeping us away from each other physically.”
Amy Thomasson is a marketing strategist, content creator and storyteller with 12+ years’ experience in marketing, product management, and business development. She has worked in a variety of business environments ranging from fortune 500 to professional associations. Amy currently serves as Director, Marketing for the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.