Associations must not put commercial income above meeting the organisation’s member requirements, according to speakers at the first UK National Association Congress.
The event, held at ILEC Conference Centre at the Ibis Hotel Earls Court, London, attracted 65 UK senior association buyers across two days; the first day analysing leadership issues and the second focusing on the commercialisation of membership organisations.
Results from an initial survey sparked discussion on the tricky issue of commercialising association events; including selling data, commercial sponsorship of events and charging for live or post-event webcasting.
“When you’re bringing a commercial person into an organisation with more of a member services bent, putting the two together can be difficult,” said speaker Sharron Gunn, director of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales’s new commercial division.
“You have to get the board to buy in. Try to find a membership project that delivers member value and commercial value at the same time, that’s a real turning point.”
Paul Smee, director general of the Council of Mortgage Lenders, added: “The reason you exist as a trade association is to serve your members and you should never have so much of a focus on getting income in the basket that you would cease to be viable if that commercial income ceased to exist overnight.”
Event organiser Damian Hutt said he planned to run the event again in 2012 with three streams across two days, and aimed to attract more than 150 organisers.