Book of the Month - April 2019

Written by Ishini Fernando on April 1, 2019

Editor’s note: Every month, we interview a different author who has valuable insights that are relevant to professionals within the association industry. From widely varying perspectives and specializations, we hope to provide our dedicated audience with quality reading to continue fostering growth and inspiration!

In a world of lightning-fast technological advancements, ever-changing economic, social and political situations, and generational transition challenges, the association space is deeply affected. Associations have long been on survival-mode, tackling issues and problems as they arise, but while they are dealing with what is most recent and seemingly urgent, they miss out on the chance to experiment, modernize, and truly innovate. This era presents an uncertain future for the association industry, but it also holds opportunities that associations are uniquely positioned to seize. It is a question of willingness.

In his book The Open Garden Organization: A Blueprint for Associations in the Digital Age, Amith Nagarajan aims to create a movement that modernizes the philosophies and practices of associations to drive progress forward within their organizations, and change the way people outside the industry views it. At the center of the book is the “Open Garden Model”, which is based on three main principles: purpose, culture, and inclusivity. The model encourages associations to clarify and deepen purpose, discover and live their values, embrace a future of uncertainty by taking on many small risks to experiment and learn, and shift their business model to one that embraces an inclusive and expansive audience, reaching far beyond the scope of traditional membership.

The book is divided into three sections around the Open Garden Model: “The Bedrock” (finding your Core Purpose and Core Values), “The Soil” (constructing and nurturing your culture), and “The Crops” (finding and engaging your community). To help associations apply the material to their specific circumstances, each chapter ends with questions and activities intended to offer guidance.

Readers will find strategies and tools that will ultimately help them:

  • Find exponential market growth for their organization
  • Create new sustainable revenue streams
  • Elevate brand credibility and member loyalty

For Amith, who has decades of experience as a successful entrepreneur, helping associations engage with their audiences is an everyday story. “I wanted to help all levels of association professionals look beyond the inertia of past models and find ways to drive massive amounts of future success,” he says about what compelled him to write the book.

Amith’s association career dates back to 1993, when he founded Aptify and grew it into a worldwide leader in Association Software. Today, he is focused on his newest venture, an artificial intelligence software company for publishing Smart Newsletters, and He is also an active early stage investor in B2B SaaS companies, and enjoys using all he has learned in his career to help organizations in their journeys.

“I think people are most surprised that each area of the book, on its own, isn’t really suggesting something shocking,” says Amith. “What I write about is common sense in many ways, and we experience many of the ideas in the book in our daily lives interacting with brands all over the world. It’s just rare in associations to see many of the practices I describe. The book is intended to be a call to action for associations to dramatically improve their future.”

The digital age demands rapid change. If associations want to avoid obsolescence, they must seize the opportunities that come hand In hand with today’s uncertainties to thrive.

Get your copy of The Open Garden Organization: A Blueprint for Associations in the Digital Age now! To download the first chapter for free, click here.