About Save the Associations

sarah

Save the Associations is a web show and virtual summit hosted by Sarah Sladek, a renowned membership growth strategist and futurist.

The show and summits feature interviews with association executives worldwide, sharing their insights and best practices on how to engage members, plan for the future, and remain relevant in a rapidly-changing marketplace

Our Story

What started out as a campaign to engage younger members has morphed into something larger and more urgent than we ever expected.

This is our story.

It was a cold day. Snow flurries were swirling in the air. Our hands and faces were red and raw from the cold, and we wondered for a moment whether we should just call the whole thing off.

Membership decline was experiencing a downward trend -- especially among younger generations.

Our firm had long studied membership engagement behaviors and trends. We knew why the decline was happening and what to do about it.

In fact, we’d spent most of the past decade educating association leaders via presentations and publications on the social shifts that had shaped the values of younger generations and what they expected from a membership experience. Our clients were able to turn the tide and achieve growth, but many associations were still struggling.

Membership decline among younger generations was first identified as a trend in 1994, and gained considerable momentum in 2016. Associations everywhere were questioning their value propositions, relevance, and futures, and some were taking considerable hits in revenue or forced to close their doors.

Emboldened to help the associations struggling to engage the next generation of members and ‘save’ these organizations from continued decline, we decided to ramp up our efforts. In April 2017, we filmed a video, outdoors on a very cold day, with a call to save the associations. The goal was to encourage associations to inform younger generations about associations be intentional about engaging them.

Today, the call to save the associations means something different and it is more relevant than ever.

In the years that followed, the effort gained momentum. We released an ebook featuring case studies and best practices, and launched a web show featuring associations that were successfully engaging younger generations.

All the while, the challenges associations were facing were becoming increasingly difficult. Political conflict, social change, workforce shifts, and advancements in technology were challenging associations and their members in unprecedented ways.

In early 2020, a global pandemic forced the world to shelter-in-place and work-from-home. Suddenly, associations were catapulted into a crisis response situation. Whether they were representing front-line workers, organizing efforts to help their communities and member companies, recovering from revenues lost to event cancellations, or trying to adapt to a remote and technology-reliant workplace, every association in every country was disrupted.

Today, the call to save the associations means something different and it is more relevant than ever.

On that cold day in April 2017, we set out to create a message of hope. We wanted to remind associations that even in times of decline, there are opportunities. Even when it seems like there are no answers, there are solutions waiting to be discovered. There is always another chapter. There is always a next generation to carry the legacy forward.

That’s what Save the Associations was always about – it’s always been a call to action to plan for tomorrow today, to disrupt, innovate, and be inclusive of new ideas and new people. It’s a call to action to lead our associations forward, so associations can serve, influence, and inspire more people than ever before, creating a better future for us all.

Welcome to our call to action. We’re glad you’re here.