Association expert, Belinda Moore, has released a comprehensive report, 26 June, on the current and future impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the association sector which shows that the disease may not have been all bad for many associations.
Research into 426 associations found the initial impact of the crisis to be negative with an intensive amount of innovation required to adapt to the new operating landscape.
Some are already seeing positive results due to the significant innovation required by Australian associations to adapt.
When asked about the outlook post 2022, 52% of respondents believed the crisis would have a positive impact on their associations from that time and 27% believed the impact would be neutral.
Moore said: “This has been an opportunity for associations to gain a clarity of purpose that has enabled many to quickly enhance their relevance to members.”
“A strong association sector has a direct impact on the success of the economy as well as the livelihood of many Australians. We need the sector to be strong so it can continue to nurture the professions and industries that will drive the recovery.”
Key findings include that there will be permanent changes in the way associations run their events with a significant shift to hybrid and online events, as well as changes to the way face-to-face events run and that many reported their virtual and hybrid AGMs were more successful than their previous face-to-face meetings and they would now be looking to retain that format into the future.
A skilled leadership and staff team, supported by a nimble organisational culture, were the three most powerful contributing factors to an associations’ ability to navigate the crisis effectively, the report found, and there is a permanent shift to remote working models with only 10% of respondents intending to revert to how things operated previously. The vast majority indicated they would be more amendable to working from home arrangements in future. 4% of those surveyed said the shift to working from home would be permanent and they would not be returning to the office.
Associations operating in industries and professionals badly affected by the crisis are expecting a negative impact on member retention this year.
Despite most associations having reserves sufficient for at least 3 months, Jobkeeper was an important factor in the ability of associations to adapt during the crisis. Many respondents are concerned about the impact of the removal of Jobkeeper on their members, the economy, and their associations.