Associations, like MCABC, are formed when groups of people with shared goals recognize that working together is more effective than working alone. The whole structure of rules for operation, governance and membership then follows. It’s assumed the association will be folded when all goals are achieved, but the association’s activities must remain relevant to its members. We who work for associations are always measuring our relevance.
The primary way we do this is through the ebb and flow of membership. While the reasons for quitting vary, money is a big one. We hear that our dues are too expensive, or that there is not enough value for money.
Showing our value
How do associations show value? Mainly we do stuff – the stuff that the members who joined wanted them to do when they agreed to join. Equally important, good associations communicate what they do, and they communicate with members regularly!
MCABC’s principal communications platform, like most organizations today, is its website. While most agree that an online presence is essential to any organization, doing it well is a challenge. Not unlike the industry we serve – construction— websites need to be built well and maintained, otherwise the effort is wasted as the best of what the organization offers may never be known.
How MCABC stacks up
I recently decided to compare MCABC’s online presence with that of other MCAs in Canada, but it’s not always an apples-to-apples comparison. Through my experience, I know that no two MCAs in Canada are equal in size or income. Ontario is different because it has a provincial organization as well as a system of regional MCAs, but the rest of us are provincial in scope (excepting Quebec for various reasons). Having said that, and I stand to be corrected, while Newfoundland & Labrador appears to be distinct as an entity, in both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, MCA appears to be an arm of the mixed provincial construction association. PEI doesn’t appear on the website map.
I’ll try to make only one small judgment: If there were awards for successful web communications, they would go to western Canada. For whatever reason – budget, staff resources, different priorities, and availability of content – the west outperforms the east. This is not said as a criticism, but to highlight a difference in point of view about the importance of a website.
Eastern Canadian MCAs have little online presence
Here’s what I found: No MCA east of Quebec comes up quickly in an online search. They either didn’t have a website or their information is buried in another entity’s website. Generally in Ontario (without naming names) where there were calendars, they listed events only to November; little or no upcoming training was listed; staff names were out of date, and the latest publication was from 2015. In one case a document entitled ‘Recent Initiatives’ referred to 2011-12.
Moving west…All four western provinces have active and relatively refreshed websites with up-to-date event calendars. However, very few current or archived articles could be found (Western Journal only); few education opportunities were listed (in one case – one course listed was finished), and there was a 2009-2011 photo gallery. On at least one site, some links were inactive. On the positive side, all western MCAs had current events or news, either in the form of re-published industry articles or links. One province apart from BC had a complete listing of all upcoming industry events and education, both listed and on the calendar, and cross listings of courses and events. The west is doing it well, and I will add BC is doing it as well or better than the rest.