WASHINGTON, DC (May 28, 2009) — Despite the economic downturn, this may be a good time for associations to seriously consider international expansion.
This was the advice given at a Washington conference for non-profits today by Kellen Company president Rick Cristol, who said it could be especially true for associations with a focus on education, training and professional development.
But if the sole purpose of international expansion is to increase association income, “think again,” he cautioned.
In addition to managing some 80 associations in the United States, Kellen manages associations in Europe and Asia through its offices in Brussels and Beijing and local partnerships in other countries.
Like other association management companies, Kellen also increasingly provides specialized outsourcing services and support for associations that it does not directly manage. Such services are in great demand in the current economic environment, Cristol noted, both in the US and abroad.
Among the benefits of international expansion, Cristol cited the following:
- Enhancing the global image of the profession or industry the association represents;
- Extending the acceptability of the association’s codes, standards, accreditation or certification;
- Leveraging the association’s advocacy capability, especially on issues with international implications;
- Enriching the value proposition for all an association’s members through international exposure and perspectives.
But the selection of any outsourcing partner, especially for international expansion, should not be made hastily by simply issuing an RFP and rating the proposals received, he cautioned.
“It should involve significant dialogue and trust-building to achieve agreement on expectations – and mutual rewards.”
Association management companies with experience in selected countries often can provide invaluable guidance in this process, saving associations much time and money, he noted.
Cristol was speaking at a “Beating the Recession” conference organized by Columbia Books.