Many American based associations think of going global as an exercise in increasing revenues and growing membership. These are admirable goals, but as stand alone goals will probably not make for sustainable global efforts.
There needs to be mutually beneficial reasons for Americans and others to work together. It can be as simple as the sharing of information, bringing people together, establishing standards, and generally advancing an industry or profession. Reasons for going global can parallel reasons for domestic existence.
The association’s mission and its strategic goals should “translate” internationally and can be pursued as they are domestically.
There are a number of governance and business models for going global. They should be considered relative to the association’s unique profile, capabilities, strategic goals, and by which will best serve the association’s goals in going global.
Goals should also be considered in terms of whether the association is primarily looking to help its members go international or to sell its own products and services internationally. If the association is looking to be global, not just extend its North American interests into the international market, then its goals should become similar within each country to which it expands.
Going global provides the opportunity to maintain thought leadership for an industry or a profession and to maintain a position of being the industry’s or profession’s information source and clearing house.
International colleagues are not looking to be told what to do, but many benchmark against America as the world’s largest economic market. Thought leadership should include bringing people together to raise standards of industry or professional practice universally.
When goals are considered, the goals of other country colleagues should also be taken into account.
For associations who have already undertaken international activity, goals may include making efforts more consistent from country to country or to address challenges posed in particular countries to measurably improve the status of efforts.