Principled Innovation

Five reasons why membership is killing association business models: Part I

Principled Innovation

Indeed, for many organizations, the membership imperative defines the very existence of the association: membership is who they are and what they do. Reason #1: Membership-centric business models organize all value around the membership relationship. Membership is perhaps the most sacred tenet in all of association orthodoxy.

What is Associations Unorthodox?

Principled Innovation

Each shift deals with an important area of association management in which doing what has always been done too often trumps the hard work of building our organizations to thrive, even right now when the latter is both an urgent priority and a non-trivial concern.

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Associations Unorthodox e-book available on August 8

Principled Innovation

Jeff De Cagna’s new e-book, Associations Unorthodox: Six Really Radical Shifts Toward the Future , will be available as a free download beginning this Wednesday, August 8. The e-book was produced in collaboration with DC-based branding firm, CHIEF.

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Five reasons why membership is killing association business models: Part III

Principled Innovation

Indeed, for many organizations, the membership imperative defines the very existence of the association: membership is who they are and what they do. For some organizations, these investments have produced a meaningful return. The vast majority of organizations will not be able to exit the membership business easily, and certainly not before they identify sustainable new revenue streams to replace membership dues.

Three design challenges for 21st century association business models

Principled Innovation

Association boards, CEOs and senior executives will need to answer a wide variety of questions as they embark on the work of developing new business models to enable their organizations to thrive over the next decade and beyond.

Ten “next truths” of governing the 21st century association

Principled Innovation

Governing is about nurturing shared responsibility for stewardship– While boards occupy the primary role in governing, they must conduct their work in ways that include other contributors and encourage them to accept responsibility for collaborating to build a stronger organization.

Associations Unorthodox Shift #3:Eliminate budgets

Principled Innovation

As a general rule, associations are risk averse organizations, instinctively conservative in every way, especially with their financial resources. On the contrary, giving up the reassurance provided by fixed budget targets, and accepting the uncertainty of a more flexible approach to resource allocation across high-level strategic priorities, means association leaders will need an easily accessible system for monitoring their organizations’ financial condition in real time.

Empathy, new value creation and the stakeholders of the future

Principled Innovation

For association leaders committed to building their organizations to thrive in the years ahead, empathy is anything but a threat. In early January, I wrote a post on six serious ideas for 2013 that included the concept of SED, which is short for serendipity, empathy and discovery. SED is a term I coined to inspire association leaders to shift their conversations about the future in a more generative direction.

Join Jeff for P.I./TMA Resources Executive Breakfast on March 6 in Alexandria, Virginia

Principled Innovation

Association boards have a unique and critical responsibility for building their organizations to thrive over the next decade and beyond, especially in the realm of business model sustainability. TMA Resources , located in Vienna, Virginia, provides member-centric organizations with the software solutions, services and partners that help keep their members and other constituents returning to them to find information, collaborate, learn and communicate with their communities.

Join Jeff for Better Boards Workshop on March 8 in Denver

Principled Innovation

RedRover is an award-winning national nonprofit organization, headquartered in Sacramento, California, that brings animals out of crisis and strengthens the bond between people and animals. Join Jeff De Cagna of Principled Innovation on Friday, March 8, 2013 in Denver for a full-day workshop on Building Better Boards , presented by the Colorado Society of Association Executives. Registration for the workshop is now open.

Serious Questions: Are associations dead?

Principled Innovation

It is impossible to know for certain, but if you’re committed to building your organization’s capacity to thrive in the years ahead, your best option is to pursue what I call “the generative work of transformation,” and not more of the creeping incrementalism our community tends to prefer. In August, I launched the P. Serious Questions newsletter. Each issue of the newsletter presents a serious question on which I offer my thoughts for newsletter subscribers.

Overcoming the association value gap: part I

Principled Innovation

My article “ Trapped in the Past ,” which appears in this month’s issue of Associations Now , challenges association boards to look beyond the richness of their own association membership experiences to recognize the unintended negative consequences of their organizations’ membership-centric business models. This post originally appeared on the Associations Now Leadership Blog on March 7, 2013.

Jeff De Cagna to deliver keynote at CESSE 2013 Annual Meeting

Principled Innovation

Mr. Keane is the overall volunteer organizer for CESSE 2013. CESSE, which was incorporated in 1977, is an informal, not-for-profit international organization of chief executive officers and mid-to-senior level staff members of scientific and engineering societies. The participants in this meeting lead some of the most important and successful organizations in the association community.

Associations Unorthdox Shift #6: Build a strategically legitimate board

Principled Innovation

For their organizations to succeed over the next decade and beyond, therefore, association boards must reassert their strategic legitimacy, or risk losing the support of the next generation of stakeholders. Boards and CEOs that can work together to engage in “the new work of governing” will demonstrate their strategic legitimacy, and place their organizations in a much stronger position to thrive in the years ahead.

P.I. Making Innovation Happen Survey is now open

Principled Innovation

As innovation becomes a more significant strategic priority in the association community, Principled Innovation will be tracking the challenges association CEOs face in making innovation happen within their organizations. This survey’s findings will help association boards, CEOs, C-Suite executives and other association leaders better understand both the drivers and obstacles of innovation in organizations across our community.

Why business model thinking matters to associations

Principled Innovation

Building a 21 st century organization is not an endeavor for the faint of heart. Working against both the irresistible forces of intense and relentless societal transformation and the immovable object of an enduring yet failing association orthodoxy, association boards, CEOs and C-Suite executives, along with other staff and voluntary leaders, must collaborate to prepare their organizations to thrive in a volatile and uncertain future.

Jeff De Cagna elected chair of RedRover Board of Directors

Principled Innovation

They perform the organization’s most important work: helping defenseless animals across the country who need our kindness and love everyday. RedRover is a national organization that focuses on bringing animals out of crisis and strengthening the bond between people and animals.

Announcing the Making Innovation Happen Survey!

Principled Innovation

Innovation is certainly a major topic of conversation in our community these days, and more association CEOs are taking steps to build innovation as a deep capability in their organizations.

Jeff De Cagna serving as curator for ACE Symposium on July 12

Principled Innovation

The ACE Symposium will feature nine CEO Thought Leaders presenting 15-minute TED style talks organized into three critical conversation themes: the future of membership, the future of new value creation and the future of leadership. I’m thrilled to be working with Jeff as we challenge CEOs to think in radically different ways about the future of their organizations.”

Overcoming the association value gap: part II

Principled Innovation

It is an invention designed to create artificial predictability and a sense of security for risk-averse organizations. Instead of formulating value propositions based on what insiders believe about the value their organization should create for stakeholders, associations need to pursue ongoing “value conversations” by asking more powerful and generative questions about the kinds of value they can co-create with their stakeholders and their extended networks.

Associations Unorthodox Shift #2: Crowdsource strategy

Principled Innovation

Despite its inherent contradictions and obvious weaknesses, the work of strategic planning continues unabated in associations, perhaps because boards and CEOs have been told at every opportunity their organizations must have a strategic plan. To begin making the shift to crowdsource strategy, association leaders can reflect on the following key questions: +How can your organization benefit from not having a strategic plan?

Associations Unorthodox Shift #1: De-emphasize membership

Principled Innovation

Indeed, the phrase, “membership organization” may well be the most orthodox description of an association’s organizational identity. They must be organized around a flexible combination of compelling value propositions supported by strong brand equity, robust organizational capabilities and meaningful tangible and intangible incentives that combine to create new revenue streams and grow future market share.

Making Innovation Happen Survey: Preliminary Results

Principled Innovation

More than 100 association CEOs from across the country responded to the survey, and there are some very important findings for our community: +Association CEOs report they value innovation both personally and professionally, and recognize the necessity of innovation to create new value for their stakeholders as their organizations face increased competition in the years ahead.

The era of strategic planning is over

Principled Innovation

During the more than twenty years I have worked in and with associations, it is my guess that organizations throughout our community have committed millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of hours of staff and voluntary leader time to generate tens of thousands of pages of strategic plans and related documents. Associations unable to generate organic growth through innovation.

Jeff De Cagna joins ATA Board of Directors

Principled Innovation

In addition to his service on the ATA Board, Jeff also serves as a director and Board vice chair of RedRover , a national organization that focuses on bringing animals out of crisis and strengthening the bond between people and animals. Jeff De Cagna FRSA FASAE, chief strategist and founder of Principled Innovation LLC, has been elected to the American Tinnitus Association (ATA) Board of Directors.

Association Chat: The Digital Organization

KiKi L'Italien's Acronym Soup

The March 24, 2015 edition of Association Chat will focus on The Digital Organization - inspired by this great book. Is your association a digital organization? Does your organization focus on always improving? Do employees have room to experiment in your organization?

How education protects organizations from fiascos.

YourMembership Blog

United Airlines farce could’ve been alleviated or stopped with some proper employee training. United Airlines recently landed itself into an escalating PR nightmare, and it hasn’t yet left people’s minds or tweets. How could it?

Build a Better Organization with Community

Higher Logic

But will community help your entire organization? When your organization fully embraces an online community, bringing every single customer into the fray, the beneficial effects of community trickle down into ever aspect of the organization.

Your Growing Organization Needs an Online Community

Higher Logic

Online communities aren’t just for enormous, multinational companies -- small organizations need them, too, just as much as the behemoths do. How do communities make sense for small organizations, where every decision -- big or small -- can make a huge difference in your bottom line?

How to Organize Volunteers to Maximize Impact

Wild Apricot Blog

So, how do you organize your volunteers in a way that maximizes their impact with your organization, and, you know… makes them want to stick it out in the long run? association nonprofit organize VolunteersWith over 62.5 million people volunteering in the US and 12.7 million in Canada, there’s certainly not a shortage volunteers.

Gamification: member organizations play for keeps

YourMembership Blog

Businesses and organizations are using this tactic to create brand awareness and drive user engagement. by 2015, 40% of Global 1000 organizations will use gamification as the primary mechanism to transform business operations.

Benchmarking and its Application to Your Member-based Organization

YourMembership Blog

Benchmarking and its Application to Your Member-based Organization. Benchmarking does several things for member-centric organizations: 1. 2 Comments to “Benchmarking and its Application to Your Member-based Organization” Linda Chreno says: January 12, 2012 at 11:27 am.

What 15 Year-Olds Can Teach Organizations About Content Strategy

Higher Logic

Lack of support from within their own organization’s walls is often mentioned as a communications strategy struggle. She is a key representative of that organization, and she needs true feedback to properly steer her content strategy.

Member Organizations: Listening Plus Action for Best Results

YourMembership Blog

Whether you are a member-centric organization or a corporation, listening is not enough. Membership Software Association Management Software. Solutions. Associations. Nonprofits + Foundations. Chambers + EDCs. Corporate + Social. Education + Alumni. Advantages. Branding. Control.

How Social Is YOUR organization?


Some trivia for you: our first book, Humanize , was originally set to be titled “The Social Organization.” So take a look at your organization today. But are you a social organization? This will tell you if you really have a social organization.

Is Unlimited PTO Right for Your Organization?

Associations Now

Organizations can benefit, too, since they won’t have to spend staff resources on tracking accrued PTO—or paying it out when an employee leaves the organization. In addition, unlimited PTO can also help organizations to keep their employees.

Search Engine Optimisation Benefits For Small Organizations


As search engine rankings increase, organic visitors come in. Small business owners that do not use professional SEO services do not actually make the most of their online presence. They basically miss out on huge possible profits.

Top 5 Twitter Management Tips for Non-Profit Organizations to Increase Followers Organically


The social media network isn’t just limited to commercial entities, but is also beneficial to a wide range of not-for-profit organizations who support various causes. The challenge for most organizations on Twitter lies in getting a good number of followers, and growing followers.

Is Your Organization Compatible with Millennials?

Jamie Notter

They will see the whole you as an organization. You need to BE an organization that makes sense to them. Since publishing When Millennials Take Over , we've been consistently approached by people wanting us to answer a central question: how do we attract Millennials?

Conference Organizer: Proceed With Caution!

Velvet Chainsaw

Danger, conference organizer! Too many organizations pat their leaders on the back for increased attendance, positive smile-sheet scores, or increases in sponsorship revenue. That elevates your position as a forward-looking, strategic conference professional in your organization.