The Covid-19 pandemic has created new challenges that require organizations to make increasingly difficult and complex decisions but the good news is that many associations and nonprofits have been resilient and evolved their strategies to reach people in new ways. Personify wanted to understand the impact of these changes and the new tactics, channels and strategies that organizations have embraced to provide value for their members, donors, volunteers, attendees and exhibitors.

We commissioned research with nearly 1,000 association members and staff in December 2020 that explores the preferences, challenges and evolution of what members want and how to best engage them moving ahead. Key findings include:

  • Association membership is valuable (maybe more than ever)– 93% of respondents said that it’s important to be part of an association, which is a 6% increase from when we asked this question in a 2018 study commissioned by Personify.
  • Virtual engagement is here to stay– More than half of association staff created a virtual version of their in-person event in 2020, 27% replaced it with a different type of event and 20% decided to not hold an in-person event. Of those who held a virtual event, 91% said that it was valuable in meeting association members’ needs. 85% of attendees want virtual and hybrid options, even when it’s safe to resume in-person events.
  • Career skills and certifications matter– This was cited as the top reason among members to actively engage in their association, followed closely by being able to network with others and belonging to an organization that advocates for their industry.
  • Digital networks are crucial– More than half of all survey respondents shared how important it is for an association to provide digital networking and an online community for members.