Top 20 Association Trends to Watch and Take Advantage of in 2024

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Top 20 Association Trends to Watch and Take Advantage of in 2024

Content Strategist
18 minutes read
October 12, 2023

As we are in the last quarter of 2023, it's time to look ahead and consider what the next year has in store for associations. Digital evolution is a constant journey and the innovative trends that characterized 2023 as a year of dynamic change are expected to further transform the association space.

To keep you ahead of the curve and support your planning efforts, here are 20 key association trends to watch out for in 2024.

Key Takeaways

  • Associations will need to leverage AI, automation, cloud, and mobile technologies to improve operations, member engagement, and event experiences.
  • Data security will be paramount as associations manage more member data and adopt new tech stacks.
  • Organizations will need to get creative with membership models, virtual events, mentorships, and other offerings to drive engagement and non-dues revenue.
  • A focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as nurturing company culture will be key for association staff recruitment and retention.

Trends in Association Technology

1. AI and Automation

ai and automation

AI is revolutionizing various industries and is expected to have an annual growth rate of 37.3% between 2023 and 2030. This rapid growth emphasizes the increasing impact of AI technologies in the coming years.

Additionally, 76% of businesses are moving towards automation to automate daily workflows with the worldwide marketing automation industry projected to be worth USD 8.42 billion by 2027.

This shows that Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are no longer just buzzwords, but have found their rightful place within organizations and workflows.

For instance, chatbots, powered by advanced natural language processing, are transforming the nature of member interactions by offering swift and tailored customer service.

Simultaneously, machine learning algorithms sift through voluminous member data, spotlighting customized content, event suggestions, and targeted promotions. Another game-changer is predictive analytics which helps associations with the foresight to anticipate trends in member engagement and event attendance.

Thus, AI and automation are the key trends, helping associations succeed through:

  • Efficiency: Chatbots and virtual assistants can manage routine inquiries, allowing your staff to focus on more complex tasks.
  • Deeper Insights: Machine learning mines data for patterns and correlations often beyond the reach of traditional analysis.
  • Proactivity: Predictive analytics transitions associations from a reactionary stance to a proactive strategy.

How Glue Up is Empowering Associations for A Dynamic Future with AI and Automation?

Glue Up Copilot is the first membership software that combines both AI and automation for optimum efficiency and a positive user experience.

The powerful Glue Up AI Copilot offers a range of benefits that can significantly enhance operations and engagement within these organizations:
 

  • By automating tasks, such as event summaries, email campaigns, and report generation, the AI Copilot saves valuable staff time, enabling them to focus on more strategic endeavors.
  • Moreover, it improves communication by facilitating personalized emails and providing real-time suggestions to improve the campaigns.


Glue Up also has robust automation capabilities that facilitate seamless application processes, event planning and execution, email marketing, and data-driven insights, enabling you to foster strong connections with your community.

You can get a demo here to experience the features first-hand or download our free ebook to learn more about automation.

2. Accessibility

As remote and hybrid work models become the norm, organizations are enhancing the virtual accessibility of their platforms and offerings.

Mobile optimization is essential because members are increasingly engaging with associations through smartphones and tablets. Platforms and apps now offer intuitive navigation and feature responsive designs to ensure a seamless experience across devices.

For 2024, prioritize accessibility and inclusive design. Make your content readable by screen readers and comprehensible for those with cognitive disabilities. Include captions and transcripts for videos to enhance their accessibility. This approach will enable you to engage a broader member base and cultivate long-term relationships with them.

3. Cloud Technology

Cloud-based association management systems like Glue Up are gaining popularity for their flexibility, scalability, and accessibility.

As of 2023, the cloud applications industry boasts a remarkable value of $153.6 billion. With projections indicating a jump to approximately $168.6 billion by 2025, it's evident that the momentum behind cloud adoption is unstoppable.

Here's how cloud technology is reshaping associations:
 

  • Efficient Collaboration: The cloud breaks down geographical barriers, enabling seamless collaboration across distributed teams and facilitating remote work.
  • Secure and Accessible Data: It assures data security coupled with the convenience of accessing it from any location with internet connectivity.
  • Dynamic Scalability: As an association's requirements evolve, cloud technology can adapt. Whether it's increased storage, added processing capacity, or advanced features, everything can be customized on the fly.
  • Integration Capabilities: Associations can effortlessly integrate third-party applications and services, from marketing automation tools to event management systems. As a result of this interconnected ecosystem, they remain on top of the ever-changing demands of the modern world.


As you dive into your planning sessions for the next year, prioritize the integration of cloud-based membership software into your operational blueprint.

This type of software can streamline member management, enhance engagement strategies, and offer analytical insights that can be pivotal for growth and member retention.

With the world steadily marching towards digitization, ensuring your association is cloud-equipped isn’t just a competitive advantage—it’s an imperative for sustainable growth in 2024 and beyond.

4. Data Security

With data breaches becoming increasingly common, associations are facing a pressing need to fortify their data protection measures. With cyber-attacks becoming a growing concern, an investment in robust data security is not just advisable—it's non-negotiable.

Highlighting the gravity of the situation, David Kennedy, Founder of TrustedSec, remarked,

“By some estimates, cybercrime is poised to extract a staggering $6 trillion annually on a global scale. This economic drain surpasses the combined trade values of all major illicit drugs. Such extensive losses don't only reflect monetary values; they also threaten the very incentives that fuel innovation and investment.”

Here's a deeper look into why data security should be at the top of your management concern:
 

  • To ensure that sensitive information remains inaccessible to unauthorized breaches, both in transit and at rest.
  • Strict access controls, complemented with multi-factor authentication, serve as the first line of defense against potential internal and external threats.
  • Performing regular audits and penetration tests is essential for proactively identifying and resolving vulnerabilities.


As you outline your strategies and goals for the next year, embed a strong focus on data security at every level of your association's operations. This isn't only about preventing breaches, but upholding your member's trust and confidence as well.

5. Mobile Technology

Glue Up apps

The advent of mobile technology has revolutionized the way associations operate, and this trend is set to gain even more traction in 2024.

The widespread use of smartphones and tablets has made it possible for members to stay connected and engaged with their associations from anywhere, at any time. This convenience factor, coupled with the increasing demand for instant access to information, is driving the popularity of mobile technology in the association sector.

Moreover, the continuous advancements in mobile technology are making it an even more attractive option for associations.

Features like push notifications, mobile payments, and location-based services are enhancing the user experience, making it easier for members to interact with their associations and participate in their activities. This, in turn, is expected to fuel the adoption of mobile technology by associations in 2024.

As an association, leveraging mobile technology can significantly improve your performance. By developing a mobile app or optimizing your website for mobile use, you can provide your members with a seamless and engaging experience. This can help increase member retention and participation, ultimately leading to a stronger and more vibrant association.

6. Remote Work and Collaboration

The shift towards remote work and collaboration is another trend that is expected to dominate the association landscape in 2024. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the viability of remote work, with many associations finding that their operations can continue effectively even when their members are dispersed geographically.

This realization, along with the ongoing advancements in remote work technologies, is likely to spur more associations to adopt remote work and collaboration models in 2024.

In addition to the operational benefits, remote work and collaboration also offer significant cost savings for associations. By reducing the need for physical office space and travel, associations can redirect their resources toward other strategic initiatives.

This financial advantage, coupled with the increased flexibility and convenience for members, is set to make remote work and collaboration an increasingly popular choice for associations in 2024.

Thus, embracing remote work and collaboration can be a revolutionary experience for your association. By implementing tools like video conferencing and project management software, you can facilitate effective communication and collaboration among your members, regardless of their location.

This can lead to increased productivity, improved decision-making, and a more inclusive and diverse association.

7. Software and Tech Stack

The right choice in software and technology can significantly drive an association's efficiency and adaptability. As organizations strive to meet their goals, it's vital that their technological choices resonate with their organizational ethos, objectives, and member anticipations.

Each software, be it CRM, LMS, AMS, email marketing platforms, or virtual event tools, plays a pivotal role in serving specific purposes. The emphasis now is on seamless integration, which minimizes manual tasks and eradicates data compartmentalization.

Moreover, with the advent of open APIs, integration with external services and applications has become much easier, allowing for intensive customization.

While it might be tempting to opt for multiple top-of-the-line solutions from various vendors because of their convenience, choosing a single, all-in-one solution leads to greater efficiency.

This efficiency, in turn, eliminates much of the heavy lifting, allowing you to prioritize enhancing member experiences, streamlining operations, and maximizing data utility.

Trends in Membership Management

8. Member Engagement and Retention

member engagement

Member engagement has changed dramatically, especially with an increased focus on hybrid events.

For forward-thinking associations, this presents a unique challenge and an exciting opportunity to innovate and keep members engaged through a number of digital avenues.

Imagine the power of online communities where members can seamlessly connect, exchange insights, and collaboratively learn. A growing trend is microlearning, which offers short, effective videos and podcasts that fit perfectly into busy schedules. Lastly, gamification transforms learning into an interactive and rewarding experience through points, badges, and leaderboards.

But engagement is just one side of the coin; retaining members is equally crucial. Getting to the top requires consistent value delivery. Live virtual events, a collection of on-demand training modules, and exclusive access to industry research and publications—these elements make your association invaluable.

And when you couple this with segmented member journeys that deliver curated content and tailored recommendations, your membership becomes even more valuable.

9. Personalization in Member Communications

A member's unique needs and aspirations are what drive them to seek out experiences that meet their expectations. And with 2024 around the corner, personalization is not just a preference—it's becoming the norm.

For associations like yours, this trend offers a golden opportunity to foster deeper connections and enhance member engagement.

Leveraging the power of member data, combined with cutting-edge AI, allows your association to craft tailored content and recommendations for every member.

For 2024, embrace personalization as your top priority. Consider how machine learning algorithms delve into member behaviors and interests, segmenting them into distinct groups. This segmentation becomes the foundation for communications that hit the mark, speaking directly to what each member values most.

As Rich Brady, CEO of the American Society of Military Comptrollers quotes:

“With the power of AI, associations can deliver personalized content with pinpoint accuracy, communicate in a more targeted and relevant manner, and craft event strategies that are not only engaging but also deeply resonant with members’ needs and preferences.”

10. E-learning

The rise of e-learning has given learners the liberty to acquire knowledge at their own pace, setting their own educational goals. People now have a vast digital library filled with a variety of resources - self-guided courses, engaging videos, enlightening podcasts, and other interactive learning materials.

Your association can greatly benefit from developing and curating such a rich resource library. Additionally, credentialing programs and online training sessions are becoming key methods to satisfy the increasing demand for flexible learning options.

The true advantage of e-learning is its extensive reach. It extends beyond traditional face-to-face events and conferences, enabling associations to share knowledge with a large, worldwide audience.

When planning your association's educational journey, it's important to include e-learning in your strategy. Leveraging its potential not only fulfills current needs but also prepares your association to meet the evolving educational requirements and preferences of your members in the years to come.

11. Mentorship

Facilitating mentorship programs between existing and new members is a great way for associations to nurture talent and increase engagement.

Setting up structured mentorship programs allows associations to match mentors and mentees effectively based on skills, interests, and availability. Virtual platforms like video conferencing and speed networking can enable global mentorship connections.

As Craig Lehman, Vice President of Global Sales at Glue Up adds:
“We know that face-to-face meetings are very important to people’s professional and personal growth. With that in mind, we have improved our Speed Networking tool to better fulfill this purpose. With our smart matching technology, each connection is based on mutual interests.”

You can also organize virtual mentorship events or panels to initiate conversations and relationships. Overall, due to their contribution to valuable professional development and networking opportunities for members, mentorship programs are expected to gain more prominence in the upcoming years.
 

12. Event Gamification

event gamification

Gamifying virtual events are gaining popularity because of their interactive interface. This includes the use of gamification strategies such as points, badges, leaderboards, trivia, polls, and rewards, which add a fun and competitive element to virtual events.

The use of event apps has further fueled this trend, as they provide participants with an easy way to monitor their progress and standings. The thrill of competition is elevated by the prospect of winning exciting prizes such as e-gift cards, donations made in their name, or access to premium content for those who top the leaderboards.

As an association looking to enhance your members' experience in 2024, embracing the trend of event gamification can be a game-changer. Here's how you can leverage it:

  • Integrate gamification elements into your virtual events. This could be in the form of points, badges, leaderboards, trivia, polls, and rewards.
  • Encourage your members to actively participate in sessions, network with others, refer friends, and engage in games or contests.
  • Consider gamifying networking. Reward introductions and exchanges to encourage your members to build relationships with each other.
  • Make use of the apps to allow your members to easily track their progress and standings.
  • Offer exciting prizes for the top participants on the leaderboard. These could be e-gift cards, donations made in their name, or access to premium content.

13. Sponsorships

sponsorships

With virtual and hybrid events, sponsors will expect year-round digital exposure and promotion.

Consider innovating your sponsorship packages to offer enduring, multi-dimensional advantages that extend beyond the confines of the event. This could encompass website advertisements, social media features, webinar series, digital banners, push notifications, branded content, and more.

Introduce tiered sponsorship levels to cater to different budgets and objectives, allowing sponsors to select a package that aligns with their needs. Enhance the value of their investment by providing comprehensive analytics.

Explore unique sponsorship opportunities such as digital swag bags, branded breakout rooms, and personalized emails to offer inventive avenues for exposure.

14. Year-Round Engagement

Traditionally, associations have focused their engagement efforts around specific events or initiatives. However, the increasing demand for continuous interaction and value from members is driving a shift towards year-round engagement. A key driving force behind this trend is the recognition that consistent engagement can lead to higher member satisfaction and retention rates.

Furthermore, the rise of digital technologies is making it easier for associations to maintain constant contact with their members. Through social media, email newsletters, webinars, and other digital platforms, associations can provide regular updates, share valuable content, and facilitate ongoing discussions.

This ability to engage members throughout the year, rather than just at specific times, is expected to make year-round engagement a popular trend among associations in 2024.

As an association, adopting a year-round engagement strategy can significantly enhance your performance. By maintaining regular contact with your members, you can keep them informed, involved, and invested in your association.

This can lead to increased member loyalty, higher participation rates in your activities, and a stronger sense of community within your association.

Trends in Non-Dues Revenue Generation

15. Diversifying Diversifying Streams of Revenue

The year 2024 is set to witness a significant shift in the way associations generate revenue. The traditional reliance on membership dues is giving way to a more diversified approach.

The main reason for this trend is the need for financial stability and resilience, especially in the face of unpredictable economic conditions. Associations are realizing that a single source of income is not only limiting but also risky.

The second reason for the popularity of this trend is the changing expectations of members. They are seeking more value and engagement from their associations, which requires additional resources. Diversifying revenue streams allows associations to meet these demands without overburdening their members with increased dues.

You can leverage this trend by exploring new revenue opportunities. Consider offering premium content, hosting events, or providing specialized services. These initiatives not only generate income but also enhance member engagement and satisfaction.

16. Adding More Value

In the upcoming years, associations are expected to focus more on enhancing the value of their offerings. This trend is driven by the increasing competition among associations.

To attract and retain members, associations need to offer more than just networking opportunities. They need to provide tangible value that members can't get elsewhere.

The second driver of this trend is the evolving needs of members. They are looking for professional development, industry insights, and practical resources. Associations that can deliver these benefits are likely to stand out and thrive.

To take advantage of this trend, your association should invest in understanding your members' needs and expectations. Use this insight to develop and deliver offerings that meet these needs. This could be in the form of educational programs, industry research, or advocacy initiatives.

17. Analysis of Offering and Technology of Other Associations

The year 2024 will see more associations analyzing their competitors' offerings and adoption of technology. By understanding what others are doing, associations can identify gaps in their own offerings and make necessary improvements.

The second reason for this trend is the rapid advancement in technology. Associations are realizing that they need to keep up with these changes to meet the expectations of their tech-savvy members.

To leverage this trend, you should regularly review the strategies and technologies adopted by other associations. This will help you identify best practices and innovative solutions that you can implement.

Remember, the goal is not to copy others but to learn from them and adapt their successful strategies to your unique context.

Trends in Operations Management

18. Talent & Training

With more companies embracing remote and hybrid work arrangements, associations will need to employ innovative talent strategies in 2024. Ensuring competitive compensation and benefits remains the top priority in efforts to attract and retain high-caliber professionals.

Furthermore, investments in comprehensive training programs have become more important, particularly in cultivating digital proficiencies such as data analytics and cybersecurity.

To position your association as an employer of choice, consider offering a wide range of training and growth opportunities. Cultivate both hard and soft skills, and foster well-rounded teams that are prepared for the future.

Embrace a tailored approach to training and development by meticulously evaluating each employee's strengths and areas for improvement, subsequently constructing personalized training plans.

Encourage open dialogue with employees to understand their career goals and aspirations, thereby facilitating relevant learning and support.

19. Investment in a Culture of Agility and Communication

The pandemic forced many associations to rapidly adapt, acting nimbly to changing conditions. In 2024, associations should build upon this agility, creating cultures comfortable with change.

Foster open communication and transparency across teams. With remote and hybrid work growing, constant communication will be key for collaboration and innovation. Use technologies like Slack or Microsoft Teams to keep all staff aligned.

Promote a speak-up culture where all team members are empowered to share ideas.

20. DEI Initiatives

dei initiatives

DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) will remain a huge priority in 2024. As more and more associations operate with more distributed teams, they will need to be intentional about nurturing their organizational cultures.

Go beyond surface-level efforts by auditing programs and policies with an equity lens. Encourage input and feedback from minority groups, as their insights are invaluable in steering your association toward greater diversity and inclusivity. Moreover, expand DEI training initiatives to involve not only your staff but also volunteers and members.

Setting tangible DEI goals is important, therefore, make sure to monitor the progress. Publicly manifest your commitment to DEI by prominently featuring it on your website and within job postings, thereby attracting diverse talent who align with your values.

Additionally, ensure that your leadership teams and board members mirror the diversity of the communities you serve. And lastly, strive to make your events and communication channels inclusive, promoting a sense of belonging for all.


2024 will be a year of evolution for associations as they adapt their technology, offerings, and operations to emerging trends while demonstrating their value to members. By embracing innovation and always putting member needs first, you can continue driving meaningful impact in their industries for years to come.

If you’re looking forward to keeping up with the upcoming trends, stay tuned for our upcoming events. To learn more about Glue Up, get a demo here and learn how it can help your association reach new heights by embracing technology.
 

FAQs

1. What are the primary factors driving change in associations in 2024?

Several factors, including technological advancements, changing member demographics, evolving expectations around value and engagement, global connectivity, and environmental and economic shifts, are collectively influencing the transformation of associations in 2024.

2. How are associations leveraging technology to enhance member experience?

Associations are utilizing technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) for personalized content delivery, virtual and augmented reality for immersive learning experiences and advanced analytics to understand and predict member behaviors and preferences. Additionally, many are adopting digital platforms for networking, collaboration, and virtual events.

3. With the rise of virtual events, what's the future of traditional in-person conferences and meetings for associations?

While virtual events offer convenience and global reach, in-person conferences still hold value for their tactile experiences, face-to-face networking, and immersion. Many associations are adopting a hybrid model, blending both virtual and physical elements, to cater to a wider range of member preferences and maximize engagement.

4. How are associations addressing the evolving needs of younger generations, like Gen Z and Alpha?

Associations are placing greater emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, integrating sustainable practices, and focusing on digital-first communication strategies. They are also prioritizing mentorship programs, offering micro-credentialing opportunities, and ensuring their missions and values align with those of younger generations.

5. With global connectivity on the rise, how are associations adapting to serve international members?

Many associations are expanding their digital offerings to cater to a global audience, ensuring content is available in multiple languages, and adopting inclusive practices that reflect diverse cultural norms. Additionally, they are forging international partnerships, setting up regional chapters, and offering localized resources to serve their international members effectively.

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