The saying goes that imitation is the best form of flattery. However, I have witnessed this practice get a little out of control.
Our organizations are great at R&D, you know, “Rip Off and Duplicate!” In a day and age when non-dues revenue is essential, we are all looking for that one event/meeting that will make our organizations look amazing while raising a ton of funds. I have spent hours, like you, searching the internet for what other organizations are doing, hoping to stumble on something that will help my organization.
This is a great practice, I mean, why re-invent the wheel? My questions to you though are: Have you studied your membership to understand what they want? Is the latest craze going to fit into your membership culture? Or even better, have you ever come across an event from a larger organization and thought there was no way that event would work for your smaller organization? What do your members want out of an event/meeting?
Take some time and give those questions some thought. Don’t just survey your members. Take time at your events to talk with your members about what their needs are. Understand your community and your area to know what types of speakers/programs work and which ones don’t.
Take a clue from my early dating years, you will hear “no” quite a bit when you pose new ideas to your members. That is okay, because eventually you’ll hit a homerun (like when I convinced my wife to marry me!).
Again, go ahead and R&D, that is a good thing. Just remember to take what you learn and create event/meeting programming that uniquely appeals to your own members and fits in the context of your membership culture.