Friday, August 13, 2010

Is That All There Is?

Professional societies and trade associations are amazing. People who aren't aware of the inner workings of these organizations miss out. Even people who are a part of the the inner workings of associations sometimes miss out. That's because while the members of an association have a clear understanding of why they belong, the people who are not members usually aren't even aware such organizations exist. If they are aware, they have no reason to let the knowledge sink in because the associations doesn't impact their lives immediately.

Members connect with other members and keep in touch with pertinent information in their industries. Sometimes they are fighting for a law that will impact their bottom line. Sometimes members are sharing technical knowledge to improve scientific understanding. Sometimes members are looking for their next job from their association.

But is that all there is?

Rather than be disillusioned with cynical ideas that some associations' members are only getting charged more and more for less and less, I prefer to focus on the positive works happening with organizations focusing on ways to give back to members and all of society. I do not believe the traditional association model is all there is.

Recent association news indicates a renewed interest in bringing association members together to help make the world a better place. More "Kumbaya" than existentialist "Is That All There Is", this post, and this post, and this post make me believe we can all help each other and ourselves by putting creative thinking and positive action together on projects focused on sharing our strengths to improve society around us. 

What do you think?  Are associations changing the way they do business?  Should philanthropy be on every organization's agenda?  Please share your thoughts!


  1. Thanks so much for including my post, Kiki.

    I do think philanthropy should be on everyone's mind, especially businesses and associations. Without sounding tree-huggerish (and frankly, I don't care if I do), we don't inhabit the planet alone. It's not our right to be here, it's a privilege, which means it's up to us to do what we can to make the world a little more bearable and livable for those we share it with.

  2. Many thanks for taking the time to comment!

    I agree with your sentiments and I do believe I see a trend towards this type of thinking for associations and businesses alike. People are trying to consciously add ways to help the world to be a better place. But we can do better. And those of us in a position to influence or organize groups are on the hot seat to help make that happen.

    Thanks for being such a great inspiration for your blog followers and let's keep trying to spread the good word! ;-)

  3. I think many, many associations have external contributions as a part of their mission or vision, ones that go beyond typical internal initiatives that others might see as self-interest.

    I think we need to engage the community in talking about our respective roles in the larger society and the positive contributions we can make, similar with what Shonali noted. Language here is going to be important as we're learning when we talk about social responsibility and the triple bottom-line. Giving back and philanthropy might not be the words that connect most meaningfully with some associations or their members.


Thanks for your comments!