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The Open Garden Organization, published in 2018, proposed shifting the way associations approach their audiences and members. It emphasized the importance of The Core Purpose of an organization. By digging deeper into the purpose behind serving members, associations can begin to understand their wider impact. From this understanding, they can create a more inclusive and diverse audience that reaches far beyond members and prospective members. This expanded audience creates opportunities for generating revenue and increasing the association's overall financial position, allowing for reinvestment and an amplified impact on their mission. 

What are the principles of the Open Garden model? 

Instead of a maintaining the traditional and in many ways, outdated, view of associations as “membership only” organizations, the Open Garden model encouraged associations to dive deeper into their mission and purpose to expand their reach beyond the traditional member base and identify a larger audience that could benefit from their expertise and knowledge. Specifically, the Open Garden model is a strategy for associations that emphasizes: 

  • Engagement 
  • Inclusivity 
  • A broad view of an association's role in society 

The Open Garden Organization provides a critical framework for associations looking to expand their reach, improve member services, and ensure long-term sustainability. This framework becomes even more essential as we continue to unlock the full potential of AI. In the age of AI, the principles of the Open Garden Organization are more important than ever, allowing associations to engage with their audience, monetize for impact, and drive their mission forward in an ever-changing digital landscape. 

Related: Why a members-only model might be holding your association back Learn More >

How can associations use AI within the Open Garden model? 

In the years that have passed since the publication of The Open Garden Organization, advances in AI have been nothing short of astounding. It's crucial for associations to take advantage of this emerging technology to stay ahead of the curve and make the most of the Open Garden strategies. AI can allow organizations to meet their members needs on a previously unachievable level by: 

  • Facilitating hyper-personalized content creation to better meet member needs. 
  • Allowing associations to become directly involved in the daily processes of their members. 
  • Amplifying both organizational and member success on an unprecedented scale. 

Embracing the Open Garden concept in a world fueled by advanced AI technology requires a continuous commitment to growth and the willingness to regularly update policies and ideas as the AI landscape evolves. While the strategies introduced in The Open Garden Organization remain valid, they must be adapted to the current state of AI to maintain their relevance and effectiveness. 

Related: How a strong core purpose can help expand your audience Learn More >

The future of associations lies in adaptability and inclusivity. 

By embracing the principles of the Open Garden model in partnership AI, associations can drive long-term, sustainable growth and become a gathering place for many members of the industry to congregate. Adopting AI-driven strategies to elevate their members and expand their influence. The possibilities are endless, limited only by our commitment to exploring and understanding the potential of AI to enhance the work and lives of those we serve. 

If you're interested in discovering more about how associations can leverage AI to create greater impact, we invite you to download the book Ascend: Unlocking the Power of AI for Associations. This essential resource will provide you with the insights and tools to incorporate AI-driven strategies effectively, ensuring your association not only survives but thrives in today's increasingly connected and technologically driven world. Don't wait – get your copy of Ascend and start unlocking the potential of AI for your association today. 

Amith Nagarajan
Post by Amith Nagarajan
June 23, 2023
Amith Nagarajan is an entrepreneur who believes in combining purpose, passion and profit. Amith grew up in Silicon Valley and, in 1993, started Aptify, which is now part of Community Brands. He is the Chairman of Blue Cypress, a family of purpose driven companies which focus on helping associations, non-profits, and other purpose-driven organizations achieve long term sustainability. More at