Grand Challenge Engagement Benefits Associations

Addressing grand challenges can benefit your association, and deliver value to your members and the broader community. If your end goal is to deliver value, increase member engagement, increase retention and membership / customer growth, and elevate the prominence of your organization and industry / profession you represent, a grand challenge strategy might be the answer.

Today we are confronted with an ever-growing list of grand challenges ranging from hunger to global warming to water scarcity to disease. There are also complex challenges that are unique to various global supply chains. Although many grand challenges appear most prominently in the developing world, as the world becomes smaller and smaller, these challenges will be at our doorstep, if they aren’t already. The fact is, we all belong to one global community. That community acts as our supply chain and our market.

The good news is that you don’t have to be an international or global association to succeed in this space. You just have to have a desire to give back to the global community and your members. And, of course, you must have the willingness to consider a different model and the courage to lead what will become a paradigm shift as the power of associations is harnessed to advance grand challenge strategies.

Another piece of good news is that successfully leading on the development of grand challenge strategy doesn’t mean your organization needs the resources to execute the strategy. A well-designed grand challenge strategy incorporates collaborators and partners that can play significant roles in strategy execution and act as important catalysts to inspire others to invest in the achieving the desired outcomes.

Here are 10 reasons why you should consider developing a grand challenge strategy.

Member Engagement. The collective process of identifying the right grand challenge and crafting grand challenge strategy creates multiple points of high value member engagement. The engagement opportunities create value for the member and for the association.

Member Pride. Proud members don’t leave organizations. Focusing on the right grand challenge for your organization will give the participants and members at large something to be proud of. Who doesn’t have a great feeling when they are part of changing the world for the better?

Increase Member Value. Developing grand challenge strategy creates multiple opportunities for members to meet new people and develop new relationships with those outside of their typical circles – a key element of problem solving and innovation.

Attract Millennial Members / Engagement. Millennials are motivated by a sense of greater purpose and making a contribution to society. As a result of growing up with the internet (and now social media), the globe is their “local” community. Engaging in grand challenge strategy means engaging in issues that millennials care about.

Build Association and Industry Image. Having a great story to tell creates multiple opportunities to enhance your association’s image and that of the industry you represent.

Elevate Organization Prominence. Leading on grand challenge strategy positions your organization as a thought leader. The payback is in expanded program and event participation. Your organization also becomes the “go to” place for information, knowledge and problem solving.

Expand Organization Influence. Being positioned as a problem solver and a leader in contributing to the greater good of society will expand your organization’s public policy influence. From a practical standpoint, grand challenge work expands your network in a way that can have a positive impact at all levels of government. Likewise, grand challenge work creates a positive story to tell.

Develop relationships with other organizations. Engaging in grand challenge strategy creates an opportunity to expand collaborative relationships with other organizations. These relationships and the collaborative experiences lay the groundwork for collaborative responses to crisis situations should they subsequently arise and they plant the seeds for collaborative work in other areas beneficial to the membership.

Attract Talented Staff. Today’s workers want to be part of something bigger and want to have a sense of purpose. This is especially true for millennials, who want to make a contribution to society.

Build strategic capacity of organization. The more experiences you can create for your board, members and staff to engage in strategy development, the more you build the strategic capacity of the organization. Creating strategic thinking experiences for board members is key for those organizations that desire a strategic thinking board.

Now that you understand the benefits that will accrue to your organization, the next step it to identify a grand challenge that has a noble purpose and aligns with your mission. After that, it is a matter of convening the right people and crafting a dynamic strategy.

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