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Association Innovators

Lydia Baugh
Communications Director, International Safety Equipment Association


Association innovators are disrupting everything from their organization’s digital presence to what kinds of benefits they can offer members. Read on for their secrets to success. Then come out of your igloos and help celebrate these innovators at a lively, snow-free networking event tomorrow night in Crystal City. Sign up here

A New Digital Presence=Member Engagement

Innovative project: Launched a new ISEA website that increases member engagement through private forums and dedicated areas for collaboration and discussions. It also provides an online resource for all safety-related information from member company experts and industry influencers. 

Lessons learned: Understand that the end goal is an important milestone to set; find the right partners who can think creatively; make sure team members are well informed of project milestones; and don’t be afraid to choose partners in a different state. 

Best way to be more innovative: Be open to change. Technology is intimidating but ultimately it increases efficiency and cost savings. It doesn’t need to be expensive and can go a long way in helping to make the organization better. 

Chris Paulitz
Membership and Marketing SVP, Financial Services Institute


New Member Benefit=More Members

Innovative project: Launched a long-term disability and term life insurance program over a year ago to retain current members and recruit new ones. Involved multiple calls and coordination with over 100 corporate members—three months in, FSI partnered with the leading third-party administrator in the country in the financial services space. Program now has over 4,000 members enrolled, with 1,000 of them being new members. It provides them a quality benefit at a low rate and it’s generating additional annual revenue.

Lessons learned: You just have to jump at some point. With any new ideas, gather facts, data and analysis, and then say “no” or “go.” We picked go and it’s paid off in a big way.  

Best way to be more innovative: Decide you want your team to be innovative; decide what resources and latitude the team needs for that purposeful innovation; identify who should be the innovators and empower them; and routinely check in with them. 

Jackie Bolt
Finance and Administration VP, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids


New Healthcare Provider=Savings For Association and Employees

Innovative project: Spent several weeks weighing and analyzing the best healthcare options for the organization as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Had to consider several options that would have increased costs for individuals, all while monitoring changes Congress was making to ACA and decisions being made by the insurance providers. Ended up finding a new comprehensive cost-effective health provider. Process took two months and lots of long evenings, but it paid off; they'll see an annual savings of $156k for the organization and $63k for staff. 

Lessons learned: Trust your gut, rely on your training, knowledge and history and move forward with confidence.

Best way to be more innovative: Hire smart staff, allow them to do their jobs, listen to and respect new ideas, and be open to doing work differently.

Wayne Stanley
Public Affairs Director, American Land Title Association


New Tools and Resources=More Business for Members

Innovative project: ALTA recently launched its “Homebuyer Outreach Program,” which helps members communicate the benefits of owner’s title insurance with homebuyers and realtors. ALTA hosted regulator interviews and surveyed over 1,000 recent homebuyers online. ALTA also hired 360 Live Media for strategic and creative planning of the project. End result was a full training program and suite of tools that members can use to promote their business and explain their products. 

Lessons learned: Nothing is ever finished. Since the Homebuyer Outreach Program launched, ALTA has developed new industry training courses, speaker readiness classes, marketing material and other resources for members. 

Best way to be innovative: Listen to members and help them determine what they really need; don’t be afraid to start from scratch; and work out loud and bring others into the fold. 

Chris Strong
Conventions and Membership SVP, National Business Aviation Association


Incorporating Innovation in Staff Goals=45 Innovative Ideas in '15

Innovative project: A few years ago, NBAA started a process of incorporating innovation into individual staff goals. The initiative began with a small group and later spread to the entire organization. NBAA recently celebrated 45 innovative ideas that were all original in FY 2015. 

Lesson learned: Don’t be afraid to lift ideas from other organizations.

Best way to be innovative: Constantly watch other companies and be unafraid to borrow freely from their successful ideas.

Sandy Lynch
Public Affairs and Member Services VP, Associated Builders & Contractors


Retooled Publications=Annual Savings and Better Content

Innovative project: Recently completed a top-to-bottom review of Construction Executive, the association’s magazine (circulation over 50,000). Hired new vendors to handle design and production, printing and circulation management. A self-service subscription center was created to let readers manage their print and digital subscriptions of the magazine and the Construction Executive e-newsletters. ABC saved over $200k annually, and the team is now working on a digital strategy to better integrate the magazine’s content across multiple platforms.

Lessons learned: Don’t make assumptions before gathering all data; expect vendors to help you deliver more value to members and to find efficiencies when possible; and put projects and services out for bid every few years, even if you’re happy with your partners—it’s a great learning exercise.

Best way to be more innovative: Respect and honor the way things were done in the past, but keep the conversation focused on increasing efficiencies, reducing redundancy and saving money, while improving the product or service offered.