Back in 2011, like most associations, the Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association was looking for new opportunities to expand its revenue base.
One way the organization’s leadership decided to try to meet this goal, while also providing a unique value for members, was to create an Industry Relations Council (IRC) to provide support for the association.
HOPA’s IRC has become tremendously successful because board members and other volunteers invest their time to open the doors of the pharmaceutical companies. Also, there is a valuable program for supporters and HOPA members, administered by an effective salesperson. What started as a potential avenue for non-dues revenue has become much more: a win-win-win for the pharmaceutical companies, HOPA members, and the organization as a whole.
HOPA members receive up-to-date information from pharmaceutical companies—the IRC supporters. In addition to revenue, the association develops relationships that may become collaborations on issues important to hem/onc pharmacists. Pharmaceutical companies get visibility and access to HOPA members for research, as well as the opportunity to address unmet needs for both patients and providers.
The process typically begins when a board member opens the door to a pharmaceutical company. They, along with HOPA’s salesperson Julie Ichiba, and executive director Suzanne Simons, meet with the IRC supporter to explain the association’s strategic priorities and discover the supporter’s desired outcomes from the relationship. Ichiba then helps the supporter determine which of the three levels of engagement (Premier, Executive, or Associate) make the best fit. What follows is a concerted effort to provide value for both HOPA and the supporter through regular meetings and opportunities for mutual benefit.
When the program started, the IRC had four initial supporters, providing modest non-dues revenue to the association. Today, there are 20 supporting companies that span the program’s three levels of engagement, and revenue has grown three-fold over that time span. Much of this growth has happened recently: seven new companies joined the IRC this year.
More growth is sure to come, as HOPA leaders are working on ambitious plans to diversify their list of potential contributors outside of pharmaceutical companies.