BlogMembership 7 Top Association Trends for 2023 + Free Ebook! Membership 7 Top Association Trends for 2023 + Free Ebook! Author: Sonia Urlando January 3, 2023 Contents 🕑 7 min read After the rollercoaster ride of the last three years, you might be wondering how we can predict association trends for 2023. It makes sense to feel uncertain, but trust us when we say that we’re not completely in the dark! Anticipated trends are based on real data we’ve collected mingled with the hopes we have for the future. Our struggles and successes are what guide our thoughts on what comes next. With a fresh perspective on past membership organization trends, we’ve got your questions about this year’s take on the “new normal” covered! From tech strategies to the future of hybrid events, here is a list of our 7 top association trends for 2023: 1. Tech-Enabled Strategies That Put People First In 2023, associations will invest more time and money into tech-enabled strategies that support both staff and members. Some of the top tech strategies we expect include: AI and Automation Cutting back on administrative work gives your team more time to grow and innovate—plus, it can elevate member experience! Artificial intelligence’s features include: Instantly testing pages to show you the best elements (no more lengthy A/B testing periods!) Automatically writing content that helps you rank for SEO Chatbots to answer questions from members 24/7 Accessibility It’s essential to make your member experience accessible to people with disabilities. This year, organizations will work to make their UX more accessible with tools including: Alt text tags for images Video captioning Sans-serif fonts (like Arial or Calibri) at size 12 or larger Descriptive web links Member Engagement One of the biggest membership organization trends we anticipate is more investment in membership engagement strategy. Engagement is the first step in retention, and we all want members that are in it for the long haul! According to the 2022 Membership Marketing Benchmark Report, a great onboarding process is what helps associations keep up their membership numbers. Associations reporting renewal rates at or above 80% use strategies like: A mailed welcome kit An email to new members with ways to get involved A welcome phone call to make onboarding easy We also expect to see associations leaning into personal invitations. This could be for events, online community spaces and social media groups. 2. Getting Personal with Member Communications Like we said, one of the major association trends for this year will be getting personal! This is especially relevant for donor-based organizations that regularly fundraise. Segmenting member data will be a big strategy for improving nonprofit email marketing. This information could include: Demographics Job titles Giving patterns Content they interact with (blogs they read, events they attend, emails they open, etc.) With this data, associations can specialize the tone of their emails to connect with each group. The largest associations by membership have numbers in the hundreds of thousands! Segmenting those lists will make it much easier to add a personal touch. 3. Technology That Empowers Member Experience Members are more eager than ever to get involved with their organizations. In fact, the Nonprofit Trends Report released by Salesforce.org reveals that 75% of nonprofits reported an increase in demand for programs. Plus, 74% of nonprofits reported that this desire to participate has increased in the last 5 years! How’s that for a trend? In 2023, technology will empower members to take part in your mission and programming. E-learning People are hungry to invest in their education, but the student debt crisis is discouraging them from attending traditional universities. This is one reason why the e-learning market is one of the fastest-growing internet industries. Blogs, articles and ebooks are a great start for association membership perks. However, offering credentialing and certifications through online learning courses is even more valuable! The skills your members learn will always feel connected to your organization. Mentorship Running a mentorship program is another way to support association members on a professional level. After a few tumultuous years, people are looking for help navigating the next steps in their professional development. Associations are a trusted resource for industry-specific mentorship. 4. More Cloud-Based Technology Many associations have been moving from on-premises data storage to cloud storage in the past few years. This trend will absolutely continue into 2023 for a few specific reasons: Security Unfortunately, the digital world is becoming more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. No organization wants to be tied to a data leak, which is why the association and nonprofit sectors are doubling down on digital safety. Along with technology that enables better data security, there will be a boost in virtual safety strategies. According to ASAE, that could include: Ongoing security training Multi factor authorization Thorough antivirus software Stronger firewalls Remote work and collaboration Cloud-based technology is a lifesaver when it comes to the increasingly popular remote work! Your team can access important information and documents from nearly ANY location. Here are a few cloud-based management and communication tools that will continue to rise in popularity in 2023: A digitized and cloud-based record management system like WildApricot’s membership management software! Automate and simplify membership tasks for both the team and your members. A centralized and shareable document system, like Google Workspace. Access cloud-based collaboration tools like documents, forms, presentation builders, calendars and more. Team-based work apps like Asana. Manage projects and tasks, upload documents, share templates, schedule meetings and more. 5. Events That Thrive in the Digital World From virtual to in-person to hybrid, associations have really been through the ringer when it comes to events! Some people are intent on getting back to in-person events, and others are focused on the benefits of staying virtual. So what comes next? Virtual, In-person or Hybrid? According to the 2023 Global Meetings and Events Forecast, 90% of meetings will have an in-person component compared to 88% in 2022. At the same time, close to half of the meetings being planned in 2023 will have some sort of virtual element. In 2023, associations will be reimagining what a hybrid model can look like. Expect that many in-person events will also offer a digital element for members who either can’t or won’t attend in person. However, unlike with previous hybrid and virtual events, they won’t require the extra technology, staff and other resources we’ve seen since the pandemic began. This could look like: Blogs and articles highlighting the top moments of each day Live-streaming one or two big sessions Offering videos of certain sessions on-demand after the event is complete The wants and needs of your members will differ depending on your organization. Consider sending out a member satisfaction survey to get an idea of what your supporters are really looking for! Year-round event engagement Events, meetings and conferences are one of the most popular ways for members to connect. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that they also drive tons of revenue! Using the hybrid model takes things to the next level by turning single events into year-round affairs. Expect associations to build more intensive strategies for multi-channel promotions. Event technology and apps will also guide attendees through events with: Easy registration and session selection Badging (attendee, staff, speaker, etc) Online discussion forums If people meet at an in-person event, this technology can help them easily connect digitally when the event is over. Now that’s networking! Sponsorships Sponsorships have always been a huge part of association event success. In 2023, associations will continue working to improve virtual and hybrid sponsor packages. Think of it this way: Featured logos on a website are like banners at an in-person event Sponsored events can either be in the conference hall or the Zoom room In-person sponsor booths could become virtual sponsor booths through companies like A2Z Events Offer as many options as possible to learn what works best for your sponsors and your members. 6. Investment in Tech Talent & Training The Foundation List has identified that nonprofits have seen a huge jump in demand for technical professionals. Between the shift to remote work and primarily online fundraising, teams really need web developers and data specialists. One of the 2023 association trends will be associations of all types and sizes working on filling these gaps. This could mean: Hiring full-time positions Budgeting for contractors or freelancers Investing in training opportunities for current staff members Remember: the talent and training that gets adopted this year will set the trends for years to come! 7. Diversifying Streams of Revenue Diverse nonprofit revenue streams are what keep nonprofits going for the long run, and 2020 certainly showed us why we can’t put all our eggs in one basket! And not to get bleak, but with talk of a potential recession coming, organizations need to set up super robust models. Some of the revenue streams we’ll see rising in popularity include: Membership dues and fees Thoughtful fundraising campaigns Virtual peer-to-peer fundraising Soliciting major gifts Corporate giving Sponsorships Each year’s association trends inform the trends of the future. The streams of revenue that succeed show us what to work with next year! Working With Association Trends in 2023 Now that you know which association trends to expect in 2023, start thinking about how you want to apply them to your own organization. Keep on top of the latest association news, and don’t be afraid to adapt when the unexpected strikes. No matter how the year shakes out, these trends can guide us through decision-making! For more information about the top association tech trends for 2023, click here to download our free ebook. Related Membership Articles Membership 🕑 9 Min Read How to Create a Member Referral Program that Actually Works Tatiana Morand Nov 28, 2023 Membership 🕑 7 Min Read Membership Card Template: How to Create Membership Cards In 3 Minutes Tatiana Morand Jul 23, 2023 Membership 🕑 10 Min Read 10 Member Appreciation Day Ideas + 6 Quick Steps to Show You Care! Sonia Urlando Jul 21, 2023 The Membership Growth Report: Benchmarks & Insights for Growing Revenue and Constituents Get the report now!