On our podcast, Associations Next, our President David Ewald discusses the disruptions we saw this year in the nonprofit world and what we can look forward to next year.
First, David explains that one of the most detrimental impacts of COVID-19 on associations was the cancelling of conferences. For many nonprofits, conferences are the main source of revenue and engagement, and shifting gears to a completely virtual format proved to be very difficult and costly for many.
Lobbying was also severely impacted. Without being able to easily communicate with legislators, lobbyists who represent associations were severely limited in how they could do their work. For many lobbyists, COVID-19 limited their access to lawmakers significantly.
Changes in volunteer commitment also varied widely. Some volunteers had more time, while others had much less time than they did before. Whether it be changes in their professional lives or personal lives with things like kids being at home, volunteer commitment was significantly changed for associations.
Still, 2020 brought some positive changes. Technology use improved significantly as a result of the pandemic. Many associations, like many other professions, were forced to adopt Zoom and other technologies almost instantly. David explains that because nonprofits learned video meetings can be a decent replacement for board meetings and other events, Zoom meetings are likely here to stay.
2021 will be a new frontier for many. Associations need to experiment and learn in order to grow in a post-pandemic world. David recommends that we focus on listening to members and volunteers to figure out anything you may need to adjust in order to be successful.
David is optimistic about what 2021 will bring. With several vaccines on the way and some being distributed already, things like traveling and gathering are around the corner. While 2020 was trying, the lessons learned during the year will set associations up well for a post-pandemic future.