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Jun 16 2014

What Do Successful Associations Do Differently to Grow Globally?

Growers survey

On June 3rd, MCI and the ASAE Foundation released the results of the first year of a multi-year series looking at how successful US associations are growing their business globally. Over 300 associations took part in the first year research effort that uncovered several major trends and common practices among associations who reported growth in membership and product sales in the last three years.

International Member and Product Growth Increasingly Essential to Financial Health

Sixty two percent of associations who indicated that membership and product sales grew in the last three years believe that global growth is either very important or important to their long term financial health.

Growers survey5

Growers Introduce Products into International Markets Much More Frequently

Growers are much more proactive in their activities outside North America, because they:

  • Offer more networking opportunities: 72% versus 46%
  • Host more meetings: 71% versus 45%
  • Run more live professional development: 69% versus 47%
  • Organize more online professional development: 62% versus 55%
  • Offers digital library services: 46% versus 37%
  • Maintain and grow a network of components or chapters: 44% versus 29%
  • Conduct government relations/public affairs activities: 36% versus 16%
  • Enforce industry standards: 32% versus 13%

Growers Conduct International Meetings, Conferences, and face-to-face Training at Significantly Higher Rates than Non-Growers

Seventy one percent of growers reported holding a meeting or convention in one or more markets, and 69 percent reported they are running face-to-face professional development programs. Furthermore, growers are twice as likely as non-growers to hold every type of meeting outside of North America

More Proactive Global Outreach Activities and Practices Lead to Better Financial Growth

Eighty six percent of respondents who have offices outside the United States are growing their membership and products; 2/3’s of respondents have at least one FTE responsible for international business development; and 64% of growers have at least one Board members from outside North America which is almost twice as much as associations who indicated they weren’t growing membership or product sales. Results suggest that those associations who restrict board membership within North America are more likely to report flat membership patterns in the last few years.

Growers survey2

Strategic Partnerships are Vital for Global Expansion and Sustaining Growth

It seems growers and nongrowers all partner with their sister society, but growers in significantly larger numbers expand their partner network to include the local national governments as well as in market commercial partners.

Growers survey3

Future Growth Anticipated from Emerging Markets

Respondents were asked to indicate where they anticipated the greatest growth over the next 3 years. The views among growers and non-growers offer similar yet divergent expectations. Among growers, priority markets are primarily located in the emerging market (China, Brazil and India) while among non-growers, agreement exists about China but they concentrate more focus on countries that represent English-speaking, advanced economies.

Shared Practices among Growers

Finally, our data also uncovered five shared practices among associations who indicated they were growing membership and product sales outside North America.

  1. Growers dedicate greater commitment and effort to global growth.
  2. Growers introduce relevant products and services to international audiences with far greater variety and rates.
  3. Growers work to more tightly integrate global and local operations with the rest of their business.
  4. Growers secure partnerships that open market access and improve local capacity to deliver locally relevant services.
  5. Growers target emerging markets for their future growth.

To receive a copy of the results and report along with info graphics, visit the ASAE Foundation website at this address.

 

Growers survey4

About the author

Peter Turner

As MCI's Senior Advisor, Global Development Strategy, I help associations build and execute global growth strategies. Over the past 30 years I have served three associations (ASAE, MPI and IEEE Computer Society) as a leader of business, product and partnership development.

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