ATT: AI – The Untapped Potential For Associations

AI: The Untapped Potential for Associations 


Ewald Consulting hosted an Associations Trends Talk on July 19, 2023 to discuss how associations can use Artificial Intelligence (AI). Our panelists — Shawn Petersen of Maple Lane Media, Erica Salm Rench of and Emily Youngblood of Mercury Creative Group — are all using various AI platforms to assist with routine tasks. They shared their experiences: 

  • Help with boring work: Various AI platforms can help your staff handle some tedious, time-consuming tasks. Examples provided by our panelists include creating images with DALL-E and/or Photoshop, using Fathom to make transcripts of webinars or meetings, using ChatGPT to draft a presentation outline or to create descriptions of silent auction items, and using BettyBot to respond to routine questions on a website. These and other AI platforms can free up your staff to work on providing the human touch to members.
  • Continual evolution: The large language models that AI platforms are based on continue to learn and evolve. You and your team need to carefully review any information that a platform like ChatGPT provides. Better yet, use ChatGPT to create an outline and then rely on your internal subject matter experts to provide the “meat and potatoes,” as Emily called it. Erica recommended that when exploring new platforms, associations should ask the tech companies to share the benefits and ROI of the platform, and to share how association data will be used. 
  • Be aware of legal issues: Copyright law around AI is evolving. Be careful about images produced by DALL-E that might use copyrighted work as the basis for a new design. Shawn recommends that if you’re streaming a live event, be aware that any music used could get you into trouble with YouTube or other video platforms.  
  • Work as a team: Emily stated that associations need to remain true to their brand and to their ideal members; maintain your brand standards when considering new technology. Create standard operating procedures for AI — and revisit them every 3–6 months as the situation warrants. Shawn suggested thinking about a project from inception through completion to consider all the people and resources needed; then, ask volunteers where they would like to be involved.  
  • Keep learning: Erica recommended reading one book a month on a topic that will help you stay abreast of continuing change. Use other resources to keep your knowledge updated. Shawn encouraged us to try new things, without being afraid of failure. 


It is likely that new AI platforms will come along, and existing platforms will evolve. What won’t change is the need for real people to ensure that the member experience remains true to an association’s mission and that members continue to engage in meaningful ways. 

Watch the webinar here!