When you think about it, your association is a very large special interest group. Would you consider narrowing the interests down a little further? For example, say you run an association for accountants. Would it be beneficial to have a small interest group JUST for tax accountants? Think about some small interest groups that may work for your association.
You may have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, it could re-engage some members who perhaps feel that programs are too general and aren’t necessarily beneficial to them. On the other hand, it may divide up the membership into smaller groups. But is that a problem? Maybe a larger concern is your time and how much it will take to arrange everything. Yes, it might cut into your day-to-day tasks, but you may also have volunteers step up to take over that burden. So what are the reasons TO start a small interest group? We have two good ones.
1) As we mentioned earlier, some members may find your programing beneficial, but old-hat. Starting a special interest group within your association could go a long way in re-engagement with those members, who are now able to concentrate on a smaller area and focus on growth there.
2) Having smaller special interest groups could open some doors into partnership and pave the way for other associations (perhaps with a slightly larger budget) to help host events. Any division of labor is good, especially in a small staff association.
So how do you start a special interest group?
First thing would probably talk to the board and see if it’s even possible. Have your case for it, with one strong suggestion for the first one and maybe a couple alternatives. Then ask the members! What do they really want to focus on? From there, seek volunteers to help coordinate the first meeting. See if anyone will step up and volunteer.
The first meeting/event might need a little finesse and guidance from you. Empower the leader of the small interest group to promote on your association’s social media and website, but you may need to help him or her tie up some loose ends at the start. The good news is that once the first event is out of the way, it should go smoother.
Well, is this a special interest group you are personally interested in? If so, attend! It’ll be nice to hang up the boss hat for a little while and just be able to take in some of the great programming. If it’s not of particular interest to you, it’s okay for you to hand the reigns over. Make room for new leadership!
Do you have any thoughts about special interest groups? Please leave them in the comments below! We’d love to hear them!