Several of you have shared your feedback on the trends that you think are most significant as comments from my original post. Here are the trends that I picked from the 62.
1. Generation Next: digital, civic, and connected (Trend #1). This generation is the leading edge of the Millennial Generation starting in 1980. I picked this as an important trend not for empirical reasons, but for experiential reasons. This trend describes my kids and their friends. The trend highlights that this generation volunteers and wants to vote, has stronger ties with parents, and connects to friends through the web. I see these characteristics everyday. My son could not wait vote for the first time as a 17 year old in the Virginia Presidential primary. My daughter has friends in Poland, Singapore, and Canada through social media. These kids have a vision to change the world and they will self organize to do it if we do not engage them in our existing structures.
3. Rising US personal and federal indebtedness (#33). No one can say for sure whether or not the current economic challenges will be severe or mild. But I think it is safe to say that the vulnerability of some of our financial underpinnings has been exposed. In his book, The Zone of Insolvency, Ron Mattocks says “that as many as one-third of the nation’s 1.4 million nonprofits are operating at a level of financial distress, -which will force many to file for dissolution.” How will they be able to handle and even survive a major economic slowdown?
4. Increasing prevalence of ‘Freemium’ and other new business models (#44). I am looking at this concept with a couple of clients. Is there a way to engage a much larger share of the marketplace with something other than a paid membership? Don’t get me wrong, I think people will pay for value. But there may be a way to bring people into relationship with an organization on a non-financial basis first before asking for money. Here is an example, in one email campaign that we tested two possible entry points into the organization for a client; a hard “buy now” membership offer ran head to head against a “free” newsletter subscription offer. The free newsletter did 50 times better. Now the challenge to prove this model will be to see if we can convert these free subscribers to paid members or customers. As I have commented before, joining as a member is a process as much as it is an event.
5. Diminishing US influence internationally (#58). Clearly one of the pillars supporting associations based in the US is the perception that information, regulation, standards, knowledge, and resources in many fields flow from US universities, government entities, companies, and professionals. Diminishing influence could crack some of these pillars, but also open up ideas and involvement from many other parts of the world. Being a global association will be more than a desire, it will be a necessity.
Do you agree with me on any of these trends and the impact they may have? Please feel free to comment and add to these thoughts.