Here are the top highlights and attendee insights when it comes to next year’s biggest predictions. 

By: Ashly Stewart, Content Marketing Manager

Last week, Wes Trochlil, president of Effective Database Management, and Erin Sullivan, Director of Marketing at Personify, had a revealing conversation about what the Personify Crystal Ball foresees for associations in 2022. 

From planning safe events to preparing your team and members for a thriving online community, the webinar covered what’s been on all our minds, and attendees graciously shared ideas and experiences coming from their associations.  

It was an hour of learning and comradery that we believe proves that 2022 will be a year of hard work and great reward — and that we just may come together more than ever before.  

Here are some of the association trends that attendees believe will make the most impact in 2022: 

Early data shows a bright year ahead for associations 

Even though the pandemic seems to have hit associations and nonprofits particularly hard, there’s good news on the horizon. The Stanford Social Innovation Review reported that nonprofits in the United States alone account for 5-10 percent of the country’s economy and about 10 percent of U.S. employment in 2020.  

And when it comes to giving, projections from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI indicate that charitable giving is expected to increase 4.1% this year and 5.7% in 2022. 

Webinar hosts and attendees were open about how difficult navigating the pandemic has been for them. Some even offered fresh insights into how their trade associations will continue to face challenges unique to their industries.  

But many also expressed excitement and optimism about the year ahead.  

“I work in a supply chain trade association: the supply chain will not improve until 2023.”

“We’re about to reach our most ambitious fundraising goal, so it does feel like our network is lining up with what charitable giving stat!”

Planning safe events is the most-talked about 2022 association trend

So what kind of attendance did most event planners see during virtual and hybrid events last year? Wes reported that many of his clients consistently saw a 75% attendance rate during virtual events.  

Quickly, attendees remarked that they also saw around a 75% attendance rate during virtual conferences, which caused one attendee to proclaim, “It’s good to know we’re not alone!” 

Many attendees expressed optimism that in-person events are back after successfully planning face-to-face meetings and invites in the last couple of months.  

But it was also clear that the Omicron variant is on everyone’s mind, and some attendees’ associations are currently making plans to go virtual with their events again this year.  

The one thing Erin and Wes emphasized is that there’s no right or wrong way to approach in-person, virtual, or hybrid events if you’re listening to what your audience and partners really want and what they’ll actually attend.  

In 2022, the key to planning any successful event, no matter the format, is to stop and listen to your members and partners before dedicating any resources to planning your event.  

Wes provided examples of clients whose audience is made of extroverts who insist on safe in-person events, while other associations have members who have said that even if an in-person event is planned, they won’t be attending face-to-face.  

“We just held an in-person event last month. We only allowed in-person registration but provided on-demand content that they could access through the end of [the] year.”

“I agree with the 75% attendance. We held our in-person event this past July in Dallas with 75% of our normal attendance. Our sponsorships were higher than ever, though. And we recorded everything for on-demand virtual attendance.”

Online communities empower members to make the most of their membership 

We’ve spoken about the rise of online communities for the better part last year as we saw them becoming a big part of associations’ strategies to recruit, engage, and retain members. Since we couldn’t meet in-person, online communities became the next best thing for a lot of people! 

During the webinar, we talked about the balance of building an effective online community that keeps members coming back while keeping in mind the time and resource commitment it takes to create an online community.  

This balance looks different for each association, but we have seen organizations see success in empowering members to make their online communities their own by creating niche discussion threads and using their online communities as an extension of their in-person and virtual events.  

And we’re also seeing online communities be a creative source of non-dues revenue by including sponsored job listings, online stores, and exclusive learning tutorials or workshops in their online spaces.  

We [are] undergoing a new website and having a strong online community with empowered users is a top priority for us.”

Have questions about the 2022 association trends?

If you missed our webinar, we invite you to watch the webinar and let us know if you want to chat about the top 2022 association trends and tools.

If you’d rather read about the trends, we also have a free e-book that dives a little deeper into the trends to read at your leisure.