Our guest for this edition of the Bright Association Press is Christina Green, the 2012-2014 President of the Midwest Association of Translators and Interpreters (MATI). Christina is an independent translator and interpreter in Wisconsin and has been a member of MATI since it's inception 10 years ago. MATI, a chapter of the American Translators Association (ATA), is a professional association founded by and for translators and interpreters in the states of Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. MATI's membership has grown from 20 members to 120 since it moved to its new website about a year ago. To learn about MATI's successful transition to its new website, read MATI's website case study here.
Here is what Christina shared with us about her membership management and success. (Listen to the interview here.)
One of the unique things about MATI is that it's an association that spans over three states: Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana. This means that the association utilizes virtual techniques to have a strong presence in each of the three states, but the association's physical presence with its active members and board members keeps the organization running in a physical sense.
"We do have some very active members, whether they are board members or [former] board members, and they in the three states," Green said. "They are very active. They run a lot of activities past us. So, we are able to have a very active presence and meet with people face to face."
MATI has three types of members: student members, corporate members, and regular professional members who are currently translators or interpreters. Anybody who works in the language industry can join in the association.
"We don't discriminate," Green said. "If you are simply a logophile, and you want to join an organization or association that deals with languages you're more than welcome to join ours."
One of the benefits of joining MATI is the provision of continuing education activities and gathering activities. The association also has a members-only section on its website where members can post and find jobs, and does excellent work of keeping its members informed about the industry's latest trends.
"What draws in members, first of all, is the idea of being part of a group. Considering that translators, historically, are very isolated people who actually sit behind a computer and they translate with very little, or no interaction, with other human beings other than by email or phone every once in a while," Green said, "Getting together with other professional members who do the same thing they do actually gives them a very good perspective on where the industry is going, what the trends are, the new tools available in the market, and things of that nature."
Many associations have trouble recruiting and retaining young members, but this isn't the case for MATI. The association is fortunate enough to include Wisconsin as one of its three states, which has the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. UWM has a one of the only three or four programs in the entire nation that offers a bachelor's degree in linguistics and languages translation and interpretation studies.
"So, with that, we have actually viewed, not only the professors at the university as a way to getting into the classroom and explain to the students not only who we are but the importance of being part of a professional organization, but also we have used their resources in order to fulfill our mission," Green said. "So we use, for example, the university's auditorium for our conferences every two or three years. We have improved our young audience exponentially, especially since the new board took over in 2012."
As for member retention, Green says the first thing is communication, which is much more than mass emails. Communication is also about listening to your member base and meeting with members one-on-one if possible. Although this strategy has worked well for MATI in developing new programs and initiatives, Green admits that one-on-one meetings isn't something that every association can do.
"Of course, we can do this because we are not an association of 1000 members. You know, when you have that size it's a little bit more difficult to call [everyone] one at a time and communicate with them," she said. "Still, with an association of our size it hasn't been easy but it is something that we do. We communicate personally with them. And, they like that. People like that."
About the Bright Association Press: The Bright Association Press is an interview series, hosted by Lamees Abourahma, Webbright founder and president, featuring association executives covering topics related to membership management, recruiting, retention, marketing, IT, and other related topics. We’re talking real-life professional associations’ challenges and unique solutions.
Hope you enjoyed this edition of the Bright Association Press? Questions or suggestions? Love to hear from you.
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