Thursday, June 28, 2012

Change for Many Associations Represents Rotating Bald Tires: 5 Questions Association Execs Should Ask

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve visited with the CEOs of three national/international associations.

All three were dealing with some core issues about the future of their organizations:
  • One represents an organization with continuous declines in membership and loss of chapters.
  • One’s organization burned through $500,000 in reserves before reacting to the recession’s impact on the association and its members.
  • One has a complex board and membership structure that makes it difficult to adjust and make changes needed for the association to move forward.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Interpreting data differently results in different interpretations.

I think I was in high school when I first heard the saying: “Liars figure and figures lie.”

I haven’t forgotten it especially as we are subjected to multiple “survey results and polls” multiple times a day.  This also comes into play when we as association professionals share market research with our members and/or association leaders.

As one who has coordinated and managed association survey results for more than three decades, I’m always cautious when hearing someone quote the results of a poll or data or other sets of figures.

Look at these three uses and one story from just the last couple of weeks:

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign: A Message for Associations

When returning from an association meeting last week, I heard Les Emmerson and the Five Man Electrical Band’s 1970 rock song Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign. For those who don’t remember, it was a 70s “protest song” about the signs that kept “nonconformists” out of “main stream establishments.”

Hearing the tune made me think of a section from Farewell to the Lodge (Dan Frost’s piece 1996 articles around the “Bowling Alone” themes). 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Are Associations Ready for “Hit and Run” Volunteering?

Despite being recession-slowed, Boomers are retiring at record rates. And, for many associations and non-profits, that means millions fewer volunteers for boards, committees and service projects.

Most nonprofit organizations will depend on the 80 million Millenials to replace the retiring Boomers.

There’s one big problem:  The Boomers running most associations and nonprofits have built rituals, traditions and programs for people like them:

  • Want to be a leader in our association, well, you need to volunteer on a committee or participate in a service project?
  • Oh, that means you need to spend 8-10 years or more before you can step into a leadership position. You know, pay your dues like we did.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

5 Great Stories for Association Professionals

Your Annual Membership Marketing Reality Check  
By Deidre Reid via Avectra
This is a great summary of the findings of Marketing General’s 2012 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report.

  • 691 associations participated in the survey.
  • 52% of associations reported higher recruitment and retention numbers than last year.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Is Membership in Your Association Worth the Dues?

Two questions of associations are emerging:
1. What value do I get from belonging?
2. Is it worth it to attend?

Some association professionals see these questions as a product of the recession.

Others recognize them as a change in the value proposition raised by an emerging generation when “membership is not automatically the thing to do.”

Here are strings of “correspondence” to illustrate these two questions:

Value of my Dues
“I just received my state and local bar membership dues invoice, and I’m staring at the $528 price tag wondering whether I ought to renew.” Asked by Sam Glover.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Managing your content to enhance the value of your association

As you may recall from my earlier post (Become a Hero to Your Association Members: 5 Ways Content Management Can Add Value to your Association’s Members  ), content marketing & management represent a growing strategy for association executives. Steve Rosenbaum recently posted the question” Will Associations Become Filters for Digital Overload? My main thought is: Why is this a question? I see it as a necessity!

Managing Content to Create Value for Your Members was the focus of Tuesday’s meeting of the St. Louis Society of Association Executives (SLSAE).

After my overview of Content Marketing and Management for Associations and Nonprofits, SLSAE attendees divided into work teams and developed ideas and tactics on managing content with the goal of creating member value.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Monitoring what is being said about your association.

Monitoring your brand represents a key component of the work of associations and nonprofits. Back in the last century, that meant having a “clipping service” that monitored media coverage.

The explosion in digital (social) media platforms has made monitoring today more complicated and most instant.

Three things happened to me last week that helped reinforce the need for associations and nonprofits to upgrade their monitoring efforts.

Monday, June 18, 2012

From Board Minutes to Burnout, Best of the Week for Association Executives

Here's the best of the last week.  Happy reading!

Don’t Get Too Wordy with Board Meeting Minutes
From Association Trends.
Probably not the “sexiest” post but may be one of the most important for association CEOs. Don’t record who makes/seconds motions. Don’t record verbatim discussion.
Robert’s Rules of Order lists the following key elements of meeting minutes:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Become a Hero to Your Association Members: 5 Ways Content Management Can Add Value to your Association’s Members

Content marketing & management represent a growing strategy for association executives. Steve Rosenbaum recently posted the question” Will Associations Become Filters for Digital Overload? My main thought is: Why is this a question? I see it as a necessity!

I’m facilitating a content management discussion at the St. Louis Society of Association Executives (SLSAE) meeting this Tuesday (11:40 am, June 19) (Click here to register.)

After providing a brief overview of associations and content management, participants will develop key strategies/tactics for their associations. (I’ll post their outcomes as my June 20 blog.)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Associations: Those who own the future are the ones who create it

Eric Jackson’s piece in Forbes: Here's Why Google and Facebook Might Completely Disappear in the Next 5 Years stimulated my thinking and should yours too especially if your association is more than five years old! 

“We think of Google and Facebook as Web gorillas,” Jackson wrote. “They’ll be around forever. Yet, with the rate that the tech world is moving these days, there are good reasons to think both might be gone completely in 5 – 8 years. Not bankrupt gone but MySpace gone. More and more in the Internet space, it seems that your long-term viability as a company is dependent on when you were born.”

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

How Often Is Your Association Asking "What if ..."

During her presentation at last week's NE-SAE conference, Shelly Alcorn, CAE, said her appreciative inquiry project with association CEOs lead her to believe that associations need to create a culture for change. (See her book Provocative Proposals for Future Change.)

She urged us to begin imagining answers to big "what if" questions.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dealing with Narrow-Minded Association Boards

At the NE-SAE conference last week, I facilitated a breakout session around the theme of dealing with narrow-minded boards.

Some of the issues that surfaced in the discussion and in calls over the last few months:
  1. Our governance structure doesn’t work. Too complex. We just can’t make decisions.
  2. The board doesn’t respect me and let’s me know it.
  3. Our board is composed of Boomers most of who have no idea of how to work with Millenials.
  4. We’re slow to change. Board keeps wanting more information before they will make a decision.
  5. The board keeps adding new things but rarely deletes projects. They have no idea of what staff does nor how long it takes.

Monday, June 11, 2012

15 Tips for Better Board/Committee Meetings: Ideas from NE-SAE Annual Conference and a whole lot more

Premise: Board time is a non-renewable resource ... Don't let it be wasted!

Question: How do we enhance the time spent in board or committee meetings?


  1. Never hold a meeting without an agenda.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Readings of the Week: Six Stories for Busy Association Leaders, CEOs, Professionals

Here are six articles worth your time:

Making Culture More than a Nice Word
On Cisco shared via Maddie Grant
At its essence, collaboration is about working together to accomplish a common goal. You can buy all of the latest and greatest tools – and yes, by the way, we have the latest and greatest – but without an organizational culture that supports collaboration, it’s a lot like giving a fish a bicycle. Or a school of fish a fleet of bicycles. Or parachutes to snakes. Or Post-It notes to squirrels.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

10 Topics for Challenges of Narrow-Minded Board Members & Other Association Development

I'm speaking -- on behalf of AMR Management Services -- today at the New England Society of Association Executives annual conference.  Actually, speaking is probably the wrong verb.  I'm leading the discussion about challenges of managing association and nonprofit organizations.

The audience will select from these 10 topics.  After a few remarks from me, we'll have a group discussion to discover potential solutions.

  1. What do you do when association volunteers want to manage rather than lead?  
  2. Why is working with nonprofits like putting socks on an octopus
  3. Two Key Questions for Associations & Nonprofits: Who do you serve? Who do you want to serve?  
  4. The Problem with Committees: Story #1  and Story #2   
  5. Can Our Associations Change if Our Boards are Past the “Adventure Window?”  
  6. Challenges of Narrow-Minded Board Members. 
  7. Will Your Association Face a Kodak Moment? Story #1 and Story #2   
  8. Are association (and governmental) boards too big
  9. In a content fried world, associations content curation can benefit members.  
  10. Don’t Eat the Toner: 7 tips for association communicators.   
I welcome other topics that we should have included.  Leave your comments here.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Attention Associations: Does Twitter affect consumer (e.g. member)behavior?

Perceptions Matter:  Call Center vs Real Person

Good info in this short video.

And note Perter Shankman's quote:
"For consumers (or members), an 800 number is a call center ... a twitter site is a real person."

Think of perceptions:  call center or real person.

The key is who is "answering" when someone tweets your organization?

What are you doing to really listen to your members "calling you" via social media?

Who is your "designated Chief Listening Officer?"

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What You Say Impacts Who Your Association Is

I’ve been writing for 40+ years for The Associated Press, as a PR professional for three different organizations, as a speech writer and now as a blogger. So I recognized the importance of what you say and how it impacts your association.

So, when I found a Google News Alert “showcasing” four “events” that I might attend (if I lived on the Mississippi coast), I'm thinking which would I select based on the items in the news:
  1. Kiwanis meeting: noon, Victor Mavar Sr. Community Room, Hancock Bank, 888 Howard Ave., Biloxi. Program presented by Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway. Details: 385-0856.
  2. American Business Women’s Association membership drive meeting: 6 p.m., Holiday Inn, U.S. 49, Gulfport. Details: 831-4072.
  3. Patt Odom workshop: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. May 22-26, Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center, 1600 Government St., Ocean Springs. Cost: $270 members and $320 nonmembers. Details: 818-2878. 
  4. Uncorked, A Cellar Event: 6 p.m. doors open, IP Casino Resort and Spa, 850 Bayview Ave., Biloxi. Sixth annual fund-raiser for the Biloxi Chamber of Commerce. Tickets: $75. Details: 604-0014.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Associations, Flash Mobs, Meetups, Popup Restaurants & Unconferences: What's the connection?

Random thoughts on options for associations:
  • Years ago, an AMC in Arizona talked about the “unconferences” that one of her clients held during weekends.
  • I first heard about flashmobs and meetups in Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody
  • Now, I’ve been following media stories about popup restaurants
These all seem to fit within Seth Godin’s “how much for a really small slice?

Can “mainline associations” – who typically follow strict protocol and structure for services such as conferences – reach more people with smaller, spontaneous events?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

7 stories for Busy Association CEOs, EDs, Execs from FastCompany, HBR, Associations Now, Association Trends and more

Starting with the “Ignore List,” these articles will help you and others on your association management team. Feel free to share with others.

Two Lists You Should Look at Every Morning
From Peter Bregman in HBR Blog Network: “I was late for my meeting with the CEO of a technology company and I was emailing him from my iPhone as I walked onto the elevator in his company's office building. I stayed focused on the screen as I rode to the sixth floor. I was still typing with my thumbs when the elevator doors opened and I walked out without looking up. Then I heard a voice behind me, ‘Wrong floor.’ I looked back at the man who was holding the door open for me to get back in; it was the CEO, a big smile on his face. He had been in the elevator with me the whole time. ‘Busted,’ he said. To pause, prioritize and focus, make two lists:
List 1: Your Focus List (the road ahead)
List 2: Your Ignore List (the distractions)”