Associations & Technology – Leading for the Next 100 Years

I recently sat down with Dean Parisi, VP of Business Development here at, to learn more about how associations can best use technology to grow in 2017. 

Dean has a rich and unique combination of corporate and association experience. Prior to arriving at, Dean worked at the American Dental Association (ADA) for three years where he led the international strategy and business development efforts. Before that he held a number of sales and marketing leadership positions in the IT sector across the United States and Europe.

Redefining the Association Membership Model

Membership has historically been the foundation of professional societies and trade organizations. For at least one hundred years, membership based associations have allowed like-minded people to be a part of an extended community of common interests, goals and professional objectives. For many years this successful model has remained relatively unchanged. However, with the proliferation of technology, the traditional membership model has quickly come under attack, Dean explained. Many associations built their governance and membership models during the industrial age, as opposed to the age of technology. Therefore, as technology becomes an increasingly dominant part of our lives, many associations are facing considerable challenges.

These challenges include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Declining Membership
  • Innovation

Declining Membership

Dean explained that a number of external and internal factors have contributed to stagnant or declining membership for associations in recent years. The growth of technology and the internet means that people now have endless access to content and resources that previously they’d be unable to find.  This shift in access has challenged the traditional membership model. With practically limitless “on demand” content readily available, people may no longer feel the need to join an association, particularly the younger generation just coming out of school. As a result, association board rooms and leaders are left grappling with how to remain relevant in a world of rapidly changing technology and consumer behaviors.


In the for-profit world, innovation is the life-blood of success, growth and long-term profitability. While associations do have the challenge of innovating and staying relevant to their members, constituents and organizations they serve, they often lack business agility and speed to market of their for-profit peers. As such, associations are challenged with keeping pace and finding new, diverse, sustainable sources of income to complement stagnant or declining membership revenues. 

Embracing Technology understands the changing and volatile landscape that face associations in 2017. With a deep history and experience collaborating with all types of associations – small, medium, and large - we can help association membership models remain relevant by recommending best practice approaches and web-based technologies to draw in a new, refreshed audience, while remaining connected to current members. By embracing technology, associations can attract millennials and those in Generation Z who might not have an interest in the history of a particular association, but are driven to find out more about what one can do for them in 2017.

XYZ University, in a recent LinkedIn slideshow explained one key to association success: ‘Deliver value where, when and how your audience wants to receive it.’

Associations: embrace technology, and reach out to the younger generation waiting to join an association that works for them.

To speak with Dean or any of our other expert team members, please do not hesitate to get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

About Author

Rachel Bennett
Rachel joined the team four years ago and is based at our London office. Rachel is a Digital Marketer and Content Writer. She works with clients to improve SEO and UX, run email and social campaigns and more. She also writes content for a wide range of clients, including blog posts, landing pages and whitepapers. Rachel has experience working within the web industry on various content management systems. Rachel studied for her BA in English Studies at The University of Nottingham, England. She enjoys drawing and travel.

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