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Can the 3Rs get your association back on track?

Wednesday, December 28, 2016 - 3:08pm

With the new year fast approaching, our social media accounts are full of tips for tackling that oft-dreaded annual ritual – New Year’s resolutions. One topic that keep coming up on my social media thread is how to become a better steward of the environment in the coming year by following the 3Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

This got me thinking and I thought I’d take a crack out seeing how we can apply the 3Rs concept to associations. To get myself started, I reached back into past blog posts (reuse at its finest) and pulled out what I thought fit.

First, let’s define each in waste management terms …

Reduce: this is pretty straight forward – reduce your consumption of goods that are destined for the landfill.

Reuse: This can often be confused with recycle, but it is different. Here you reuse an item in its original form, i.e., a glass bottle is reused to store other liquid.

Recycle: People are most familiar with this option. It simply means taking an object and returning it to raw material that is shaped into another object.

Now let’s see if we can apply this to associations.

Reduce: Seeing your membership and/or event registrations dwindling? Having trouble securing sponsorships? Need volunteers? Reduce the drain by adding that personal touch. In Board members, what's on your 2016 NY's resolutions list?, I ask BOD members to put a few simple items on their New Year’s To-Do-List including ditching the traditional email and picking-up the phone instead to reach members, sponsors and volunteers. Also, if you’re leaving the board, reduce the stress on the incoming board by recruiting someone to take your place.

Reuse: Did you have an event that blew it out of the park? Did your members respond positively to a particular promotion? Did your members and volunteers engagement grow? Reuse the best ideas to keep the momentum going. In the post New Year's Resolution Time! we talk about not reflecting on the negatives of the past year, but the positives, and building on those successes in the coming year. Ask questions such as where and how did we engage the most members? What did members say they liked most about the past year? What events worked and why? How did we retain our volunteers, or what sparked most volunteers to raise their hands?

Recycle: On the other end of the spectum, did you have a signature event that has lost its luster? A committee that has fallen flat? A board that just can't get going? A budge that's going bust? We all start the year with high hopes, swearing that this time we'll fix what didn't work only to find our energy and enthusiasm waning by March. This year, why not recycle your typical resolutions by stripping them down to their bare essence (i.e., the basic goals) and breath new life into them by finding new and exciting ways to achieve those goals. In 2015’s post I resolve to …, I found some different ways to tackle this including creating a theme, 6 alternatives to try, making declarations instead of resolutions, and my favorite … why you should sometimes break resolutions.

Finally, here are some other gems from past years …

5 Questions for the New Year – How can we change our questions to deepen our conversations in associations. Here are 5 questions focused on volunteering, member engagement and chapters that you should be asking. And no, we don't give any answers.

My New Year’s List - with a little help from friends – In this post, Peggy had more fun reading other people's thoughts on New Year’s resolutions and found some real gems.

A New Year’s Resolution: Thanking Volunteers – A working list on some creative ways to show your volunteers how much you appreciate them.

*Did you know USEPA places REDUCE at the top of the 3Rs, followed by REUSE and RECYCLE? Food for thought …

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