In February 2020, you had big plans for your trade organization. Your calendar was full of meetings, trade shows, and recruitment events. You thought this would be the year when your trade organization would thrive.
If your plans were dashed with the arrival of COVID-19, you’re not alone. Plenty of trade associations, both large and small, continue to deal with the fallout of a virus that just won’t go away.
But now isn’t the time to either panic or grieve. You can take charge of your trade organization and deliver the value your community expects, pandemic or no pandemic. These resources may help.
Canceled events, unemployed members (who can’t pay your dues), and higher overhead costs (due to social distancing) pinch your budget. But you can overcome these challenges with a bit of creativity, hard work, and luck.
Write down a list of member benefits, such as:
Then, call a few trusted association members and start a conversation. Keep your talk focused, experts recommend. Develop a hypothesis about what your members need right now, and ask them if your theory is on track or off base.
Use that conversation to develop sponsorship opportunities. If your members plan to take more online courses, for example, reach out to top sponsors and tell them that. You could find a big-ticket sponsorship opportunity hiding within your member list.
Lean into tried-and-true sponsorship opportunities too, including:
These techniques leverage the assets you have, and they connect companies with products to people interested in them. But they aren’t your only fundraising opportunities.
The coronavirus has devastated businesses of all sizes, and officials responded by offering loan products. Some, including the Paycheck Protection Program, aren’t available to all associations and nonprofits quite yet. Many other resources are available to help you weather the storm.
The U.S. Small Business Administration administers many loan products. The rules vary from business type to business type, and some rely on a pre-existing relationship with a lender.
Don’t let the rules baffle you. Head to the U.S. Small Business Administration website, and click on the “free business counseling” option. Connect with an expert to discuss the loans that might be right for a trade association in your state.
We all want to return to normal as quickly as possible, but the events we loved may be months or even years away.
Social distancing protocols related to COVID-19 are challenging for in-person event planners. Your tradeshow or conference attendees could cluster together:
Some conference organizers respond to these challenges with innovation. They make booths larger, schedule exhibit hall appointments, and install plastic shields. That may not be feasible for your trade association.
Before you dig into an in-person event plan, reach out to:
If a physical conference makes your community wary, don’t push it. Plenty of companies made the shift to virtual conferences due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can still share knowledge with your community, and you can still foster connections. You may just need to do the work online for now.
It’s hard to be a leader in the best of circumstances. It’s even harder during this trying time, but you can succeed.
To help your community weather the storm:
User-generated content means more during the COVID-19 crisis than it ever has before. And we make collecting that content really easy.
Use Gather Voices to entice members to make short videos with their smartphones. Use our tools to edit, combine, and share those videos wherever you’d like to. With our tools, the work is straightforward and easy. See how it’s done — request a demo using the form below!
Focus on Member Motivations to Drive Revenue During Pandemic. (May 2020). Associations Now.
Association Revenue Strategy During COVID-19 Pandemic. (March 2020). The YGS Group.
SHRM to Congress: All Nonprofits Need Access to Paycheck Protection Program. (April 2020). SHRM.
Coronavirus Relief Options. U.S. Small Business Administration.
Virus Forces Conference Planners to Go back to Go. (May 2020). The New York Times.
What Will Conferences Look Like Post COVID-19? School of Hospitality Administration, Boston Hospitality Review.
As COVID-19 Forces Conferences Online, Scientists Discover Upsides of Virtual Format. (April 2020). Science.
Nearly 30 Percent of People Are Afraid to Eat Out, Study Says. (March 2020). QSR.
Fear Contagion Research Reveals Why Coronavirus Quickly Spread From Person to Person. (March 2020). PsyPost.
Coronavirus: How to Be the Leader Your People Need Right Now. (March 2020). Bain and Company.
Leadership in an Outbreak. Korn Ferry.