Thursday, May 28, 2015

What Associations Can Learn from the Dorton Experience

Local Chapters are Building Blocks for Association Engagement
I was going to write today about declining church memberships and closing colleges and suggest they could be a forerunner of trends impacting associations too.

But then, my son, brothers, cousins and nephew attended the Memorial Day services at Dorton United Methodist Church in Crossville, Tennessee. We were on a golfing weekend.

I may still write about church numbers and college closings but not today.

I’ve spent my entire association career at large, national associations. While I occasionally attended a local chapter meeting, I infrequently engaged with members as the local level. 

As a national staffer, I met and interacted with the few who became national board members or who attended national meetings. (Note, I did serve on the board of the St. Louis Institute for Association Leadership but my focus is and has been at the national level.)

Participating in Dorton’s Sunday’s worship service showed me a new perspective that could benefit national associations.

Engaging. Caring. Sharing.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Share What You Do With Association Board Members


Typical associations spend two-thirds of their annual budgets on personnel costs.

Over the years, I’ve watched some “budget funding battles” that demonstrated the boards didn’t really know what their association staff was doing on behalf of the organization.

During these debates, I discovered that it is hard to explain WHAT you do but even more difficult to share HOW you do it.

That’s because many association professionals focus on TELLING board members ... but, perhaps, it is more effective to SHOW them.

Here is a great example from Plum Hollow’s golf course superintendent Adam Garr SHOWING his members what happens to get a golf course ready for play after a long winter.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Associations: Getting Beyond Just Millennials



Sitting in a dentist’s chair the other day, I realized how much has changed since I was a kid suffering from the sound of a “belt-driven tooth drill.” Nearly everything in the dentist office has changed. Same goes for my physician’s office and his use of an iPad to update my files.
So many people limit the discussion of digital technology to that which millennials have adopted. And, as associations, we forget to recognize how much all members are using technology in their daily lives.

Over the last few years, several authors have published good books about associations and millennials.

I can think of
While it is extremely important for associations to focus on reaching and engaging millennials, they should not lose site of Boomers and other members and leaders.

Monday, May 11, 2015

British Election Polls Show Dangers of Relying on Surveys

Britain’s election shocked the country (and much of the world) not because Prime Minister David Cameron and his Conservative Party won but because of the size of their victory.

Last week’s election results once again demonstrates to associations the dangers of over-reliance of polls and surveys.

So what happened in Britain’s elections? And, what does it mean for associations?


Monday, May 4, 2015

Symphony, Football and Associations: Teamwork Wins the Day


The other night my wife and I joined another couple at the Southwest Florida Symphony’s performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in D Minor Ode to Joy.

I enjoyed the music but found myself studying the different musicians and sections. Beethoven scored the symphony for 11 units: piccolo, flutes, oboes, horns, strings, trumpets, trombones, kettledrum bass drum, cymbals and triangle.

It was fascinating to watch the conductor and musicians perform especially when individual units had times to play and times to wait. They worked as units (sections). Together, they performed a masterpiece that was written nearly 200 years ago.

As I studied the performance, I realized there were similarities between the symphony and the story behind Ohio State’s national champion football team.

During the season and even now, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer talks about building a culture of trust and leadership. And, he mentions the importance of all nine units working together to build a winning team.

In Urban Meyer Shares Secret to Winning National Championship, John Millen shares some key elements of Meyer’s culture: