Posted in Strategic Planning

BACon Blog - 3 Ways to Improve Your Association’s ProgramsGetting better every single day should be the goal of every association. And one area on which you should be constantly striving to improve is ensuring the quality and effectiveness of your programs.

For the purposes of this discussion, association programs refers to the array of programs, services and initiatives that an association carries out in order to meet the needs of its members and to advance the goals of the association.

There are many ways to improve your association’s programs. Here are three:

1. Board oversight. Work with the Board of Directors to ensure that they are providing appropriate oversight of the implementation of your association’s programs. This doesn’t mean that the board manages the programs… that is the task of the staff leadership.

Board oversight should be focused at an appropriate high level and should be focused on analyzing and measuring the results of the programs, not the strategies used to implement the programs.

You should also provide training for your Board members on how they can effectively provide oversight to your programs. Just because someone got elected to your Board of Directors does not mean that they don’t need help on how to best carry out their duties as a member of the Board. So help them.

2. Staff development. Help your staff get better so they are able to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently, including the implementation of your association’s programs, services and initiatives.

This development can either be education and training as a group or development targeted to an individual member of your staff. You should dedicate monies and resources to helping your staff grow during their time at your association.

You should also focus on improving working relationships across the association. Break down silos. Establish clear roles and responsibilities. Get your staff working outside of themselves and their departments.

3. Regular review of programs. You should be regularly reviewing the programs at your association. Which programs are succeeding? Which programs are not? Get rid of programs that are no longer working or are no longer relevant to your members. For those programs that remain, make a comprehensive assessment of the program and look for ways that it can be done more effectively and efficiently.

So, help your Board members, help your staff and bring focus to your programs by reviewing them on a regular basis. These are 3 ways you help to ensure the quality and effectiveness of your association’s programs.

John Barnes is President of Barnes Association Consultants. Barnes Association Consultants helps association Boards and CEOs address the wide range of challenges and opportunities facing today’s association leaders. Barnes Association Consultants helps association leaders make their associations better.

John can be reached at or 703.321.6866. For more information about Barnes Association Consultants, go to