As someone deeply immersed in association management and consulting for over two decades, I’ve often been asked, “What business are you in?” It’s a question that lingers, prompting me to reflect on the core of our work.

If you were to ask about memberships, events, or education, the response would undoubtedly be affirmative. Yes, we’re in the business of memberships, organizing events, and facilitating education – all vital components we undertake collaboratively with our incredible volunteers. And let me tell you, collaboration is a massive deal – but that’s a topic for another blog post.

However, a revelation struck me this Fall that reshaped my perspective. While memberships, events, education, and a few more aspects are unquestionably crucial, they must encapsulate the true answer.

So, what business are we really in? The answer is refreshingly simple – we’re in the community-building business.

Memberships, events, and education are merely tools in our kit for community building. These tools serve a purpose: to foster and strengthen the sense of community within our associations.

Community is the heart of the matter. People join associations not just for memberships or events; they seek to be part of something larger than themselves. Associations become a hub where diverse communities collaborate to navigate the intricacies of their industry. It’s the realization that a collective community can surpass the knowledge and capabilities of any individual.

Volunteering within associations isn’t just about contributing; it’s about making our communities a little better than we found them.

Discovering this truth has been nothing short of empowering. When the focus shifts to building a community, memberships, events, and education transform into tools aimed at a broader goal – driving real, transformational change.

While we take pride in our work to grow memberships, bring people together at events, and deliver meaningful education, our ultimate source of satisfaction lies in the communities we’ve built. These communities aren’t just gatherings; they are vibrant, supportive networks embodying the essence of association management.