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3 Proven Strategies for Managing Large Association Events

Lori Halley 06 May 2014 0 comments

This is a guest post by Lamees Abourahma of Webbright Services.

Event management can be one of the toughest parts of running an association. You need events to attract and to retain members, or else they will leave because you don't provide value. 

Here are 3 proven strategies you can take back to your association to help better manage your events - large or small.

Find Ways to Keep Your Regular Meetings and Events Fresh

Andrew Campbell, programming director with the Columbus Metropolitan Club in Columbus, Ohio, manages a volunteer staff of 35 members to host weekly events regarding the big topics that are of importance and relevance to the Columbus community. Campbell and his team meet once a month to plan the next few events, figuring out which topics they need to discuss with their members, which can range from education to the arts. The Columbus Metropolitan Club has a live-event every Wednesday, which involves choosing the best speakers to come in to give a presentation, to lead a discussion, or to be part of a panel.

"We're always looking for that fun angle in the programming. How can we make it compelling, interesting, and funny when we can, even on the important topics to keep people entertained," said Campbell. "We are a live-event [organization]. Programming is what keeps things ticking around here."

With its weekly Wednesday events, what Campbell says the organization tries to do is cover the full spectrum of a topic as best they can. For example, the organization is hosting several events regarding early childhood development, and to cover this full spectrum, each event is going to feature a different expert. One event will feature someone from Child Services, another will feature a doctor neural development in early childhood, while a third a teacher to cover the education perspective.

Don't Be Afraid to Do a Lighthearted Event

Greg Laney, president of the Atlanta Area Compensation Association, said that his organization has six speaker events each year. One of those six events is in December and is a lot less formal. Unlike the other five events, this particular holiday event is held in a restaurant and covers a more easygoing topic so that members can benefit from the information as well as from the relaxed atmosphere.

"The thing most sought after by our members are subject-matter experts that come to give them valuable insight at our meetings," Laney said. "[Our members] can then  take this information to their senior executives, and to the board room. We work hard to find speakers that can deliver topics that our members can really appreciate and use."

For each of these events, Laney notes, they work as far ahead as possible to set dates and to secure venues. The AACA has about seven or eight board members dedicated to working on each event and ensuring that it runs smoothly.

Outsourcing Your Event Management, if Possible

Some associations may not be able to outsource their event management simply because of a lack of funds. But those that struggle with finding volunteers or having enough people to plan an event, ought to consider event management outsourcing. There are companies that specialize in association event management, and can be a great help with many parts of the process, such as decor and design, venue scouting, event staffing, and timelines and reporting. 

Although events are a major focus for many associations, most organizations don't specialize in event planning, so outsourcing event planning might give your organization a chance to focus on what it does best.


Lamees Abourahma  is president of Webbright Services LLC. Webbright is a quality, high performance provider specializing in membership website design and development on the Wild Apricot platform. For Webbright, working with clients is more than building websites, blogs, or social networks. It’s about building relationships with people who are passionate about their mission, and helping them realize their vision. 

Additional Event Resources:

For additional resources, visit the Events section of our Membership Knowledge Hub and check out our articles and guides.

Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Tuesday, 06 May 2014 at 8:30 AM
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