Guest Post: Ernie Smith, Associations Now
The pandemic highlighted some fascinating surprises about the potential for how associations could function.
One such lesson: When the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society (RAPS) put its chapter events online in a free virtual format, the organization found a sudden surge of interest in those chapter events—which now could draw interest globally based on its topic rather than being simply geographically oriented. According to RAPS’ director of stakeholder engagement, Wesley Carr, this interest was something of a happy accident resulting from going virtual, as the organization was really aiming to build value for its existing members during a difficult time.
“We saw hundreds of people,” Carr says. “On some webcasts, it was over 500 people. These folks were from different parts of the world.”
As the pandemic shifted and the association changed to a nominal paid model for these virtual events, the number of attendees has gone down—but attendance and engagement are still higher than they were before the pandemic. The global interest in local chapters has led to some serious discussions about whether chapters should be structured around subject matter rather than simply around location.