What We're Reading: Increasing The Value Of Philanthropy Membership Organizations

"Philanthropy membership associations were made for times like these. Shining bright these past eight months, they’ve heroically grabbed their members’ hands and illuminated pathways forward," said Kris Putnam-Walkerly. "They’ve helped members navigate the pandemic and prepare for recovery, offering real-time learning, sharing best practices, creating rapid-response funds, soliciting critical information through surveys, supporting collaboration across government and business, and encouraging funding for racial justice."

"Philanthropy infrastructure organizations quickly moved events and conferences online, increased the number of offerings, and broadened who can attend, often including all funders and not just members. Many also worked to shift the balance of power and make gatherings more inclusive and accessible. For their global conference, the Resource Alliance saw it as an opportunity to 'challenge the idea of one magnetic north, which tends to be the global north, and instead create a magnetic field around the world where people can be drawn to excellence anywhere.'"

Putnam-Walkerly suggests; lead with an abundance mindset, be agile and adaptive, and include voices outside your membership. 

"Infrastructure organizations need to cross-pollinate and inject provocative ideas, fresh thinking, and different cultural frames into your resources and events. To enrich your members, you must stretch. Going beyond your membership and even beyond civil society organizations to bring experts and opportunities that your members wouldn’t otherwise have access to will add incredible value to their work. There are plenty of people working to improve civil society with new ideas. From authors to scientists to analysts, there are countless experts in the field at the ready to do the same. This is a powerful way to give your members their money’s worth many times over."

"The superpower of membership associations are connecting and leveraging people, resources, and ideas. Now is the time to shine. When people feel challenged and disconnected, you inject abundance. By being agile and adaptive, you remain relevant even when circumstances change. By being inclusive, you provide a full spectrum of voices that we all need to hear and heed now. Doing all these things well will ensure member retention and —recession or not—they’ll also recommend that those in their circles join too."

Read the full piece here.