Sunday, December 18, 2016

2016 Lessons Learned from 7 Associations

People often ask me, “What does SCD Group do?”

As I look back on 2016, a recap might help while offering lessons for other associations and nonprofits.


Using the strategic intent planning model, I guided five (5) national nonprofits in envisioning their futures and/or reviewing their existing strategic plans. In each assignment, I began with a survey of planning participants, association leaders and/or a random sample of members. The survey data helps me plan the planning as well as provide association leaders insight into their organization. The associations I worked with included:

As part of their strategic intent, three of the associations decided they needed to pursue changing the organization’s name as their changing profession made the current name somewhat “obsolete.”

Lessons Learned

The survey results often surprised the association clients. In at least one case, the responses from members surprised the board because they were different from the board’s thinking. In several cases, the surveys showed distinctive differences between generations – not just about communication vehicles but more revealing, about the importance of networking, education and other key member benefits.


Gamma Sigma Alpha (GSA), an honorary recognizing significant academic achievement among fraternity and sorority members, asked me to lead a board development workshop designed to help the board enhance its performance.

Lessons Learned

Board time is a non-renewable resource. Using a “consent agenda” enhances the productivity of boards. And, the lack of term limits results in a “stale board” that focuses on “the way we’ve always done it.”


AAEA: the Ag Communications Network engaged SCD Group to find a new management team to replace the outgoing firm. The Executive Director’s retirement – a year earlier than expected – gave us only four months to complete the process. We developed a Request for Proposals, received 21 proposals, screened them down to the Top 10, invited four firms for interviews and selected one association management company to lead the association into its second century. The new firm assumed management on schedule!

Lessons Learned

The variance in proposals responding to the RFP was shocking. The RFP shared the association’s current budget and the management fees it was paying. Yet, some of the proposed fees were double the current fees. Some proposals focused – not on the clients need’s – but on “how wonderful” the proposing company was. 


The Agricultural Media Summit (AMS) has engaged SCD Group to assist in management and coordination through 2019. AMS – a joint annual conference of four organizations – is adding a new conference partner in 2018 and hosting an international organization in 2019.

Lessons Learned

AMS is a shining example ( of how multiple organizations can create and manage a single national conference. Now, it is working through how to bring in a new partner and how to share any net revenues from the larger meeting.

I hope these “lessons learned” will help your association succeed in 2017.

No comments:

Post a Comment