We all know the difference between associations and The Hunger Games. One is a story about people fighting to the death against impossible odds to get all of the resources they need to survive. The other is a movie.
No, I’m totally kidding. The two are CLEARLY very different. That being said, there are a few important lessons that associations can learn from The Hunger Games. Take a look!
1. Storytelling is vital.
Before the games even began, Katniss and Peeta learned that in order to stay alive, they needed to create a credible story about their relationship – one that would resonate well with audiences, which in this case, meant a love story. After all, the more that people could relate to Katniss and Peeta, the more likely they’d be to sponsor them – which is HUGE for two people in an arena with no food or water.
For nonprofits, the importance of storytelling is much the same. The more that people can relate to your story, the more likely they’ll be to join, donate, and get involved in your organization. Don’t be afraid to tell people why your organization does what it does. Is it to help others? To create change within your industry? Whatever it is, spread that message loud and clear. And if you have member testimonials, share those as well! These are stories that need to be heard.
2. Your people are important.
Katniss Everdeen didn’t go into the Hunger Games alone. She had a team. She had Gale Hawthorne, Haymitch Abernathy, Effie Trinket, and Cinna. Without this team, there’s no way Katniss could’ve accomplished all that she did.
For associations, the situation is similar. Teamwork makes the dream work, particularly when time and resources are limited, and it’s crucial to rally together in order to get the job done. Now don’t worry. You don’t have to have a huge team in order to be successful. A lot of associations have small staffs and each employee is tasked with wearing many hats. But not to worry – a small staff can be just as effective as a large one. Just make sure you’re leveraging everyone’s strengths to the best of your ability.
3. Don’t be afraid to challenge the process.
When Katniss defied President Snow and the game makers at the end of the first Hunger Games, she changed 74 years of repeated actions. She wasn’t afraid to step up as a leader and challenge the process – even though that process had been going on much longer than she’d be alive.
For association leaders, this lesson’s important. Don’t feel like you need to stick with something at your association just because it’s always been done that way. Be open to new and different approaches. This is particularly important in a time where Baby Boomers are beginning to retire and Millennials are becoming ever more present in the association space. The way you engage your Millennial members is going to be different from the way you engage your Baby Boomer members. Just be aware of that and be open to change. Your association will ultimately be better for it.