The Pressing Challenges for Associations


  • Being relevant to some and essential for even fewer
  • Operating with an antiquated model amidst constant chaos
  • Communicating value to a diverse audience
  • Increasing engagement and developing loyal members

Today’s associations face critical decisions and need to navigate major crossroads at every turn. Although changes in demographics, technology, and competition have created challenges, there have never been more new opportunities to consider in how we serve members. Changes are all around us now and this is the time to capitalize on them. It’s both an ambivalent and exciting time for associations!

A strong membership is unquestionably at the core of every successful association. Your sustainability depends on the ability to lead your community, and attract, engage, and keep your members. Uncertain economic conditions and increasing competition makes this more challenging than ever. Is there a way to “work smarter, not harder” to getting and keeping members? Absolutely!

Our Challenges Require Thought Leaders to Provide Awareness, Education and Solutions
Considered as the Membership Guru and the developer of The Member Retention Kit, Cathi Hight helps associations meet the expectations of their members. She provides realignment strategies that help associations of all sizes manage constant change, deliver benefits that members value, leverage volunteer and staff resources efficiently, and effectively communicate the value of membership. She has presented at Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives’ (ACCE), American Society for Association Executives (ASAE), and national conventions, regional and state conferences. Cathi was a ACCE national trainer and Provider of Choice for membership development and is on the national faculty for the Institute for Organizational Management.

Training Approach
Cathi is a master facilitator and promotes learning using large and small group interactions, brainstorming activities, and the sharing of best practices from associations around the country. She provides scorecards that allow for self-assessment, performance benchmarking, and tactics that can be applied readily to associations of all sizes. Cathi’s well-designed presentations feature case studies, innovative ideas and handouts that will serve as stand-alone references long after the learning session.

Some of Cathi’s topics are listed below.  Download the list of 2019 Presentations with descriptions.

A New Approach to Tiered Membership
More than 50% of the chambers in the U.S have moved from a Fair Share to Tiered model and the concept isn’t really new. So, why is membership growth still flat? Maybe the way we design tiered models isn’t working well. With increasing demands to deliver ROI for membership, many chamber models are falling short of providing benefits that really matter. Explore the new approach to creating a tiered model that increases the value of membership and positions your Chamber as an essential investment. read more

Strategic Alignment: Leading from the Outside—In
Serving a diverse membership can pull you in many different directions, strain your limited resources and result in ineffectiveness, high staff turnover, and weaken your position in the market. Striking a balance between leading your community and being all things to all members is difficult. Explore how to develop strategically align with your constituents, programming and staffing structure to ensure your association’s success.  read more

Solutions Broker: Your Role in the Value Chain
With so many competing sources in today’s world, it’s getting harder to attract new members and for current ones to recognize the value of membership. How can your association become so essential that it’s the first place they think to access for information, connections and solutions to their businesses? read more

Reinvent Networking
Associations invented networking and the place to “see and be seen”. Thanks to the Internet and social media, networking now is more about computer-to-computer than coming together face-to-face at an event. Although our form of networking is the best way to meet new people and build relationships with other members, we need to explore new ways for members and prospects to connect, meet up, and build their social network. Learn how other associations are reinventing networking through new and innovative resources! read more

How to Appeal to the 4 Types of Members
Different types of customers have different values, concerns, and reasons for joining and renewing. Although a “onesize-fits-none” membership trend is rising, you can understand prospects’ and members’ frame of reference with the Member Profile Matrix. The Matrix will help you to develop targeted value propositions, programming, and a tiered benefits model that will resonate with all stakeholders. read more

Virtual Benefits: Providing Member Value 24/7
Explore ways to provide virtual benefits to members that they can access 365 days a year. Recognize how associations can be the leaders of providing essential information, connections, and access to resources that entrepreneurs, corporations and non-profits will value. read more

The VOI of Membership is Greater than the ROI
Members who ask about ROI don’t see the value of their membership. Members who love you talk about VOI, not ROI. ROI (Return On Investment) focuses on the same or higher amount of $$ invested. Although you can’t always deliver a return on $$, you have delivered on the Value of I, where I means more than Investment. Explore the power of VOI and how to change the way you communicate the value of membership. read more

Strategies to Improve the Membership Life Cycle
The Membership Life Cycle focuses on implementing best practices for acquisition, ensuring that members are well integrated into our communities, influencing engagement, and a successful renewal process. This is an ongoing cycle that we must manage and continuously improve on. Explore the best strategies for acquiring, integrating, engaging and renewing members. read more

The Pressing Challenges for Today’s Organizations
Your sustainability depends on the ability to communicate strategic direction, develop an effective team, and operate efficiently. Uncertain economic conditions and increasing competition makes this more challenging than ever. Is there a way to “work smarter, not harder” as an organization? Absolutely! read more

The Courage to Manage Up
Managing projects, people and multiple priorities is hard enough. In this session, you’ll explore the three factors you must master to effectively manage up. You’ll discover the importance of adapting to others’ behavioral styles, use the Partnership Scorecard to build trust and a stronger relationship with your boss, and you’ll determine which strategies will best help you to get buy-in from your boss and achieve your personal and professional goals. read more

What Motivates Me?
Whether spoken or unspoken, met or unmet, expectations have a powerful impact on our thoughts, feelings and behaviors, and play a key role in driving our attitudes. Explore 10 universal work expectations, what motivates you and your team members, and how to create work environments that meet everyone’s needs. read more

“So What?”
Communicate what really matters.  Explore how to apply a new communication approach to everything you do. You’ll learn how to get people to say, “I love it! “I need it!” and “I’ll buy it!” As a result, you’ll deliver stronger presentations, communicate targeted messages, and increase sales and buy-in from others. read more

The 8 Dimensions of Leadership
Explore the 8 different dimensions of effective leaders; the strengths and weaknesses; and opportunities and downsides of various leadership elements. This session identify your primary leadership dimension and helps you understand the psychological drivers, motivations, and “blind spots” characteristic of your style. read more

10 Secrets of a Volunteer Leader
Being a leader and managing others requires an effective set of skills and experience. When neither the leader nor the team members are paid, it can present some unique challenges that require a different understanding. Explore secrets and the lessons learned from a seasoned volunteer leader to help you develop effective leaders who manage other volunteers. read more

 Are You Really Listening?
Did you know there are five different listening styles? Effective listening is crucial to communicating productively on a team and working with customers. Explore the five listening styles and learn to become an active and purposeful listener on a team and in all interpersonal communication settings. read more

 7 Secrets of Successful Networking
By building connections with other people, you can increase sales, create strategic alliances and broaden your spheres of influence.  Learn how to use proven networking techniques to explore new opportunities and hopefully, develop and enhance your contacts in the community. You’ll develop a powerful 30-45 second introduction to pave the way for meaningful dialog with those you meet in your network. read more

10 Reasons Why There’s Conflict in the Workplace
If handled appropriately, conflict in the workplace can create stronger bonds among team members and pave the way for improved communication. However, if handled inappropriately, conflict can destroy work relationships and cause team members to become disgruntled and dissatisfied with their jobs. Learn the key reasons why conflict arises and how you can alleviate the frequency. read more

 Giving Constructive Feedback: The 1, 2, 3 Formula
You have many opportunities to provide feedback to others whether it’s to coach employees on their performance or to let those closest to you know how you feel about a behavior or action taken. Use a proven and simple model to give both positive and corrective feedback using three sentences. read more

Change Management: Dealing with Constant Restructuring and Reorganization
People don’t resist change; they experience challenges and success in managing the transitions of change. Knowing the natural response to change initiatives, we can anticipate others’ responses and provide the support needed. Explore the natural responses to transitioning to change and a model to use when implementing larger organizational change initiatives. read more

Work Smarter, Not Harder: Optimize Your Space for Higher Productivity
Time and motion studies prove that people lose 1-2 hours a day through disorganization, lack of concentration and constant interruptions. Practicing work smarter, not harder strategies starts with having a workspace that promotes productivity. By optimizing your workspace, you’ll feel organized all day, improve your concentration, reduce your stress immediately, and get tasks done in ¼ the time! read more

Work Smarter, Not Harder: Outlook Tips and Tricks to Manage E-Mails and Multiple Priorities
Are you drowning to manage a huge volume of e-mails? Are you faced with juggling multiple priorities with competing deadlines? Do you have multiple To Do Lists and struggle how to stay organized and productive? Technology can help you work smarter! Learn how Outlook can help you manage a tidal wave of e-mails, save you time, and increase your productivity. Explore a simplified process to prioritize your day. read more

Work Smarter, Not Harder: Balance Multiple Priorities and Manage Stress
Is it difficult for you to say “No” or “Not right now”?  With increasing demands from work and our personal life, it’s getting harder and harder to achieve work-life balance. Explore strategies to balance what’s on your plate and to reduce your stress level. read more download Cathi’s speakers kit