Thursday, February 27, 2014

Unwritten Rules of Association Board and Staff Determine Its Culture

The other day Ron Edmondson offered 7 Examples of Unwritten Rules that Shape an Organization.

“In an organization, what is passed down, maintained over the years, repeated the most, become a part of tradition…that’s what is real. That’s the DNA. They may have never been written down, voted on or ‘put in the minutes,’ but they are assumed true by the majority.”

As I read Ron’s commentary, I reflected on the associations I have worked for or served as a consultant.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Content, Branding, Best Practrices & 4 Other Stories for Association Executives

How to Deliver Epic Content 
via SliceWorks

Content marketing satisfies your prospect’s need for essential information and your organization’s desire to shine as a trusted source of subject-matter expertise – subtly sparking “love-at-first-sight” resonance, laying foundations for long-term relationships and leading to a sale, membership renewal or other conversion to profit. Circulate, measure, adjust.

5 Methods for Avoiding Procrastination for Nonprofits
By Beth Kantner via Beth’s Blog

While some procrastination can be beneficial, it can reduce your productivity if it gets out of hand. I think there is something called productive procrastination, especially if a lot of your work requires tasks like writing or analysis that requires deep concentration. I find that procrastination can be a helpful “mental break” between these types of tasks if your procrastination is actually something on your to do list.
1. Pomodoro
2. Time Blocking
3. Workstation Popcorn
4. 18 Minutes A Day
5. Bullet Journal

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Olympics & Valentine’s Day: 3 Lessons for Associations

Having a crisis (within your association or your profession/industry) has become more likely. Escaping it unharmed is becoming harder.

Savvy association executives recognize the potential danger and plan ahead.

Can’t happen to you? 

Think of the pork industry when H1N1 flu was erroneously labeled as “swine flu.”

Thursday, February 20, 2014

3 Questions when associations in same industry/profession compete

I enjoy reading John Paul Newport’s golf column headlined The USGA and the Game’s Odd Governance in the weekend Wall Street Journal. 

Since I am both a golfer and an association professional, last weekend’s edition hit home.

My interest is not about golf but about how competing associations within the same industry or profession. 

As one who has worked with several associations which are part of the same industry or profession, I’ve worked for/with some associations in the same boat.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

5 Ideas About Information Overload for Association Members/Donors

Information overload and the number of times you email association members has been an ongoing topic on ASAE’s Collaborate.

My question is whether “information overload” is the right topic and the right question that association professionals should ask when it comes to communicating with members and prospects. 

Over the last 30+ years, I’ve found that staff and boards tire of association messages before most members have caught on. As a result, we often stop communicating way too soon.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

5 Olympic tactics offer ideas for association event promotion

P&G photo in USA Today

While associations don’t have huge ad budgets like P&G, Visa or Samsung, associations can “steal” their marketing tactics to help promote their conferences and events.

A recent USA Today story headlined P&G holds early gold in Olympic social media
illustrates the power of stories as told in videos.

Here are the five key elements the USA story and my thoughts for associations, association executives and association meeting planners.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Minimum Wage Impact on Association Salaries

Note: I tread lightly on this political lightning rod. I'm coming at this topic from an operational rather than political point of view.  And, I'm only surfacing an impact of the minimum wage that doesn’t seem to be included in current discussions.

I haven’t looked at the ASAE Operating Ratios report for some time but as I recall, “personnel costs” represent anywhere from one-third to one-half of the total operational costs for “typical” associations and nonprofits. The same percentage applies to most association management companies (AMCs).

Thus, total cost of salaries represents a major component of the economics for most association professionals.

Since I always paid more than the minimum wage, I assumed the issue did not impact either my AMC or the associations I served.

Well, I was wrong. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

6 Ways to Engage Xers and Millenials on Your Board

I wrote earlier this week about two friends and their reluctance to serve on association boards. I’ve mentioned before the impending rapid turnover of board members as Boomers retire.

Engagement of Gen Xers and Millenials as volunteers and board members represents the key to filling board seats and volunteer positions that Boomers currently occupy. Xers and Millenials, however, have “issues” with serving in leadership positions of traditional associations and nonprofit organizations.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

How Will Association Boards Recruit New Leaders?

With impending huge turnover in association leadership (from Boomers to Xers & Millenials), a couple of conversations I had last week illustrate some of the potential problems the association professional will face in the coming years.

One colleague shared with me his dilemma while the other shared a past experience.

The first had reluctantly accepted the “opportunity” to become the president of a national association.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Setting Expectations & Delivering Bad News

Three experiences as we built a house over the last year provide valuable lessons for association executives and their work with association boards and members.

Here are our three experiences:

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Don’t rely on one form of communications for your association

Ohio State recognizes 50 years of varsity ice hockey

One common theme among association professionals: frustration about communication with members and prospects. (See some of the ASAE Collaborate commentary below.)

I just experienced poor communications of an event designed to include me and my teammates.

As a college sophomore playing JV ice hockey, I was called up to the varsity team in late January, 1964, thus becoming part of the original varsity hockey team for The Ohio State University.

That was 50 years ago!

So, Ohio State organized a 50th anniversary event as part of an upcoming Big 10 conference hockey game.

The OSU Hockey office started sharing news of the event last fall.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Do Online Communities Compete With Traditional Associations

An ongoing conversation about the growth of online communities is occurring over on Associations Now.

The discussions surrounds the news that Doxmity, an online community for healthcare professionals, now has more than 250,000 members. That’s more members than the American Medical Association, with about 225,000.
  • “Think of it this way: If a separate organization builds a product or service that improves your industry, isn’t that still a step toward your mission? Does it matter if your association didn’t build it?” 

Time & Money

To fulfill the mission, associations need resources: money (dues, fees, donations) and time (volunteers).

Time is a finite resource. Money is somewhat finite.

Thus, I've always viewed "competition" as anyone or anything that gets my members or prospects to part with their time or money. Competition ranges from another association to an online community to attending/watching the Super Bowl. 

If that thing or event takes time and/or money from my members or prospects, they don't have that time or money to invest in my association.

So, even if an online community is helping my profession or industry, it does detract from the ability of my association to meet its mission through its programs and services.

Given the time or money challenge, online communities are competition for most associations.

Maggie McGary talked about this in her Mizz Information headlined Why Online Community is About More Than Community for Associations
  • “I think the Doximity discussion is about much more than online community; it’s about how start-ups are recognizing that associations are falling behind in ways that are leaving a lot of potential revenue on the table and it’s pretty easy to build a business based just on gathering that low-hanging fruit. 
  • “Even in the face of case after case of for-profit online communities popping up and offering traditional association members something better when it comes to online community and networking 24/7/365 instead of just face-to-face at annual meeting, associations for the most part don't see online community as something worth investing in. The difference in resources and attention given to online community in the for-profit and start-up world and in the association world is night and day. Where most associations have no dedicated staff running their online communities, start-ups often have several community managers and many companies have whole community teams.”

So, what about you and your association?

Are you 24/7 or still open a traditional 40 hour week? (Reminder: a 40 hour week means your association is open only 23.8% of the work in today's 24/7 world.