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Sector and AuSAE News

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  • 05 Jun 2020 5:25 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    Melbourne, VIC Australia (4 June 2020) — Advanced Solutions International (ASI), a leading global provider of software and services for associations and non-profits, announced today it held the first iNNOVATIONS LIVE Asia-Pacific virtual conference for partners and clients on 27-28

    May 2020. This regional event follows the incredibly successful 25-26 March global iNNOVATIONS conference that shifted from an in-person conference in Florida, USA to online amid the COVID-19 crisis. Learn more at www.advsol.com/PRinnov.

    Hosted by Paul Ramsbottom, Managing Director of ASI Asia-Pacific, and Colin Bryant, ASI Asia- Pacific Country Manager, the two-day conference offered nine educational presentations on the latest advances in the iMIS Cloud Engagement Management System with live Q & A. It also included an inspiring opening session, award presentations, and a virtual networking happy hour

    at the end of the first day. Attendees were able to take advantage of the ASI Connect mobile app to access the agenda, conference materials, forums, and engage with other participants.

    “Each year, ASI holds the iNNOVATIONS conference in the United States, which has meant very few clients from our region have attended the event before,” said Mr. Ramsbottom. “With iNNOVATIONS LIVE Asia-Pacific, the iMIS community in our region got to experience the magic of the event for the first time. Attendees came from across Australia, New Zealand and Singapore and they were thrilled to be able to ask their questions of international experts and get answers in real time,” he added. “This live access to knowledge and resources — and the chance to really feel a part of the event — was huge and we’re already being asked about next year!”

    ASI’s in-person iNNOVATIONS conference was originally planned with three educational tracks but was reduced to one for the virtual event; all planned presentations, however, were recorded and made available via the on-demand video library. Hosted by ASI partner Webcastcloud, an Australian webcast streaming and hosting service, this library allows attendees unlimited access to all 36 conference sessions, ASI was pleased to welcome members of NiUG Asia Pacific, the local independent user group dedicated to ensuring organisations that use iMIS to maximise their investment in both the technology and staff they employ to administer and utilise it.

    2020 Client and Partner Awards

    ASI’s mission is to “Help People Achieve Great Things Through Innovative Solutions,” and each year the company recognises winners of its Great Things Awards. The 2020 Asia-Pacific honors went to the Australian Medical Association – Federal Secretariat and the AMA’s Chief Information Officer Phil Barton accepted the award. The AMA promotes and protects the professional interests of doctors and the healthcare needs of patients and communities, representing nearly 31,000 members and more than 15,000 students at the federal, state and territory level.

    ASI also announced the following awards to Asia-Pacific based partners:

    Authorised iMIS Consultant (AiC) of the Year:

     Asia-Pacific: KISS Consulting LLC

    Chairman's Circle:

     Causeis

     Integr8tiv

     KISS Consulting LLC

    iNNOVATIONS LIVE Sponsors

    iNNOVATIONS LIVE Asia-Pacific was sponsored by C Systems Global, Computer System Innovations, Inc. (CSI), Gather Voices, Global Payments Integrated, Higher Logic, iFINITY plc, MemberPrime, OpenWater, Personify A2Z Events, Top Class LMS by WBT Systems, Web Scribble and Webcastcloud Pty Ltd.

    About ASI

    Advanced Solutions International (ASI) is a leading global provider of cloud-based software to associations and non-profits. We're the company behind iMIS Cloud, the Engagement Management System (EMS)™ that empowers you to engage your members anytime, anywhere, from any device. Since 1991 we've helped thousands of clients grow revenue, reduce expenses, and improve performance by providing best practices, pragmatic client advice, and proven solutions. Learn more at www.advsol.com.


  • 04 Jun 2020 11:12 AM | Kerrie Green (Administrator)

    Wondering what to do about member incentives during a global pandemic? You’re not alone. Here are some tips and real-world examples to help you navigate this tricky question in difficult times.

    COVID-19 has turned a lot of common association challenges into bigger ones that are particularly hard to address, like how to talk about membership incentives during a crisis that has caused significant economic hardship.

    A recent thread on ASAE’s Collaborate raised that question to see what others are doing now and what their plans are for the future. Chris Gloede, chief consultant at Ricochet Advisory Services, and John Ponzio, vice president of professional membership and engagement at the American Heart Association, provided some insights on the discussion. I followed up with them to get more details.

    LOW-COST INCENTIVES

    Incentives are challenging, according to Gloede, former chief marketing officer at the American Bar Association, because they are an expense that can quickly snowball, and discounts run the risk of devaluing membership. Instead, ABA leveraged strategies commonly used by magazines to increase subscriptions: It offered free trial memberships that provided the option to cancel when those members received their dues invoice after the trial period ended.

    An article in Associations Now reported on the success of the International Public Safety Association’s limited $5 membership, which gave would-be members a look at IPSA’s benefits and professional community without a major commitment by either the association or the prospective member.

    At AHA, Ponzio said they offered new members a limited-time trial membership, which gives members an opportunity to connect with like-minded professionals through AHA’s councils. He said they also provide chances to win gift cards for use in AHA’s online store and special offers for lifelong learning tools.

    CUTOFF DATES

    “Without a deadline, an email or a piece of direct mail will quickly be forgotten,” Gloede said. ABA promotional materials featured deadlines prominently. Ponzio said AHA also offers members incentives to renew or join within a certain timeframe. Becoming a member of an association is an investment, Gloede said, and deadlines make the decision to join easier.

    SPECIAL RATES

    AHA, a global organization, focuses on providing opportunities like special rates for members in developing countries and AHA fellows-in-training, Ponzio said. It also offers group memberships for community hospitals and rural healthcare centers. Ponzio said AHA’s main priority is having their professional members know they are there for them, so they also offer extended payment plans, in particular for students or members who are just starting out in their careers.

    Gloede said the ABA membership rate was determined by a variety of factors, including the number of years a lawyer had been in practice, the size of the practice, and member category (for example, whether the lawyer offered pro bono services). Determining each lawyer’s capacity and situation gauges a prospective member’s ability to pay, he said. The process can be complex, but for large membership programs, the dollars often justify the complexity.

    FINANCIAL HARDSHIP ACCOMMODATIONS

    Some associations waive dues when a member temporarily is experiencing financial hardship. ABA moved away from requiring members to submit cumbersome paper applications for such a waiver—which needed review and approval by leadership—to a more streamlined, honor-based digital request process. The number of people who used the financial hardship program was relatively small, Gloede said, and therefore the financial risk was minimal. He noted that for the most part people are honest, and the few instances of abuse could be managed case by case.

    During these difficult times, “plan for the worst and hope for the best,” Gloede said, adding that it’s important to recognize that your association has financial needs, too. He recommended measuring the new dues options you offer to assess what’s working and what’s not. And, he said, “be ready to change course and aggressively try new approaches.”

    This article was sourced directly from Associations Now here and was written by Lisa Boylan. 

  • 04 Jun 2020 11:07 AM | Kerrie Green (Administrator)

    When it comes to virtual events, many associations are running into questions about how to raise revenue from them, according to a Tagoras report. Part of the challenge may be strategy—nearly 60 percent of associations surveyed said they didn’t have one for virtual events.

    More than 90 percent of associations say they’re offering virtual events essentially because of COVID-19. How does that change the business approach for what is traditionally a major revenue driver?

    It’s one of many questions highlighted in a new report from Tagoras, a consulting firm focused on adult learning. The latest edition of The Virtual Conferences Report, which gains new relevance amid the COVID-19 crisis, touches on three key topics related to virtual events—operations, business, and performance—at a time of unprecedented growth for the event variant.

    Case in point: Two thirds of survey respondents say their organizations have never offered a virtual event, but plan to within the next year.

    “Clearly current circumstances are driving a major near-term surge in the format,” authors Jeff Cobb and Celisa Steele write.

    But given the sudden shift in interest toward virtual events, it’s clear that some business considerations might have been lost along the way. Some business-minded highlights from the report:

    Many virtual events struggle with strategy. The report notes that just a fifth (20.7 percent) have a documented strategy for virtual events, while 59.8 percent say they don’t have one, and 19.5 percent aren’t sure either way. The authors diagnose this as something of a missed opportunity. “There are thousands of decisions when it comes to offering a virtual conference—how long should it be, should it be part of your annual conference or its own beast, what should you charge, how do you find sponsors, and so on,” the authors write. “You need a strategy for your virtual conferences so you and others in your organization can translate that strategy into the right answers to the myriad questions.”

    Virtual events need to be financially sustainable, but tend to be less expensive than in-person events. Nearly 60 percent of respondents (59.7 percent) stated that it was important for a virtual event to be profitable, while 25.4 percent said such an event needs to at least be self-sustaining. And perhaps for that reason, nearly two thirds of respondents (65.2 percent) charged for such events, compared with 15.2 percent that didn’t. Despite the tendency to charge, virtual events tend to be less expensive than in-person events, with 30.4 percent charging significantly less and 39.1 charging somewhat less.

    The calculus of pricing has changed with the pandemic. Despite the general push to make virtual events less expensive, respondents to the survey told Tagoras that some events are not cutting costs compared with in-person events due to the nature of the pandemic, though some are offering different options that make educational resources available to all members, while charging extra for those who can afford a more in-depth approach. “We have heard from many, many of our people who have said their entire training budget has been cut through the end of 2020,” explained Shannon Lockwood, the events and programs manager at the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing. “So we now know that if someone is coming to our event, it’s likely—not just possible but likely—that they’re paying out of their own pocket.”

    Sponsorships are more prominent than exhibitor fees in virtual settings—if they’re collected. More than 40 percent of associations haven’t yet monetized sponsorships or exhibitors at prior events, but given the changing environment, demand could rise in the coming years as associations look for new ways to make events profitable. (According to supplemental data from Tagoras, 36.1 percent of respondents expect to integrate a virtual tradeshow component into an upcoming event.) But if they are drawing revenue from vendors, the way to do it most commonly seems to be through sponsorships (31.3 percent), or in tandem with exhibitor fees (20.3 percent). Just 4.7 percent rely on exhibitor fees alone.

    This article was sourced directly from Associations Now here and written by Ernie Smith. 

  • 02 Jun 2020 7:22 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    For many associations, building new ways to generate revenue and diversify beyond membership comes down to identifying, and taking advantage of, new opportunities. Here are a few ideas.

    By Eric Goodstadt

    Diversification is the first rule of financial management. And the association space is no different. The fact is, membership dues can only get you so far if your goal is to invest more money into the programs and services you offer.

    Not convinced that nondues revenue is essential to your association’s growth? Consider this: The 2019 edition of Marketing General Incorporated’s Membership Marketing Benchmark Report found that roughly 46 percent of association members were older than 55, while just 26 percent were under 40. The report also found that the associations struggling to grow (28 percent of those surveyed) were most likely to have more baby boomers as members, while those seeing declines (26 percent) said they faced challenges attracting younger members. Clearly it’s risky to lean on membership alone, given that nearly half of all association members, on average, are nearing or at retirement age.

    Diversifying your offerings will also bolster your reserves in case something goes wrong. With all of that in mind, here are a few strategies to help point you in the right direction:

    Focus on a robust content strategy. The great thing about content programs is that they can be monetized in numerous ways. For example, one of Manifest’s long-term clients has found much success with its portfolio of magazines and websites that touch upon different aspects of its field. The depth and reach of these publications offer advertisers and industry partners revenue-generating opportunities. Likewise, associations have a tremendous amount of information, research, and expertise that can provide the bedrock for a revenue-generating content platform. Needless to say, if you’ve already created such a platform, be sure to keep it up to date—leveraging new mediums and technology will not only keep you relevant but will also create more revenue-generating advertising inventory.

    Look into building a job board. Many trade and professional groups represent industries that are quite niche, and employers are willing to pay for access to their members. Yet most associations aren’t leaning into job boards as much as they could. According to a Community Brands benchmark report on small-staff associations, just over a third of associations surveyed offer a job board to their members as a source of nondues revenue. And revenue isn’t the only factor: Job boards can also be an opportunity to maximize visibility for careers in your industry and reach out to new groups of potential members. In 2018, for example, the packaging group PMMI launched a job boardCareerLink, to reach students who might be interested in the field. The program, which charges for premium listings, isn’t just a digital success—it also created an opportunity for PMMI to build job fair events at its tradeshows. The revenue goes to the group’s PMMI Foundation, which helps encourage workforce development.

    Offer premium services that encourage members to spend more. Not everyone will be willing to pay beyond the price of admission—but by giving your members the opportunity to do so, you can potentially unlock nondues revenue paths that didn’t exist previously. Examples of this type of approach abound in the for-profit space. For example, you can go to IKEA and buy a couch, and pay extra to have it delivered and assembled. While using LinkedIn is generally free, the social network offers a premium version that allows users to see who has visited their profiles, enabling them to proactively reach out to recruiters. And while lots of people pay to read The New York Times, some will pay extra for special access to recipes and crossword puzzles. You probably have ideas for services just like these to build on top of your membership offering.

    UNCOVER NEW OPPORTUNITIES

    For associations, finding the right strategy isn’t necessarily the hard part. Often, it’s about finding the right opportunity—and it might not be something you can see on your own. A good partner can help wring out these opportunities over time, ensuring that they don’t become one-time windfalls but easy-to-replicate business models.

    There will always be members who want more, and advertisers who are willing to pay more for new experiences. When those nondues revenue opportunities present themselves, will you be ready?

    Eric Goodstadt, president of Manifest, has more than two decades of experience in the agency world, serving clients in diverse sectors—including associations, nonprofits, and Fortune 500 companies.


  • 27 May 2020 1:22 PM | Kerrie Green (Administrator)

    A snapshot of leading associations reveals that successful member engagement in a crisis environment requires a more personal touch that speaks to both the head and the heart.

    A new report, Engaging Members From a Distance, examines how 15 leading associations are engaging with their members despite the considerable challenges caused by the pandemic. The report, from the communications agency Finn Partners, analyzes the associations’ websites and social media outreach to determine what’s working to provide takeaways for other associations.

    Here are a few insights from the analysis that might help you better connect and engage with your own members during this unprecedented time.

    COVID-19 IS FRONT AND CENTRE

    No surprise here. The report notes that 13 of the associations had robust content focused on COVID-19 prominently featured on their websites and had quickly launched coronavirus resource centers in response to the crisis. Finn Partners predicts that associations will conduct more research on the how the pandemic is affecting members personally and will shift from more fact-based reporting on COVID-19 to assessing the best way forward to support and advocate for members.

    Given the severity of the crisis, the need for information about the pandemic will likely not subside, the report notes, so associations will need to look for ways to provide more relevant and resonant content to connect with members.

    MAKE IT PERSONAL

    The report praises the more personal approach that groups like the American Nurses Association are taking with flash polls to capture member feelings as they face the challenges of COVID-19. The ANA recently surveyed 32,000 nurses and found that 87 percent of them were afraid to go back to work. ANA’S COVID-19 Resource Center invites nurses to share their stories from the front lines of the pandemic. This gives members a chance to express themselves during a global crisis in their own words, which creates a meaningful—and timely—sense of community.

    SOCIAL MEDIA STORYTELLING

    Associations are using social media to connect with members directly. In particular, their Instagram platforms are brimming with community-building conversations, according to the report. It points to AARP’s Instagram page, where members recount how they are responding to different aspects of COVID-19. The personal stories range from a teacher talking about challenges she faces with virtual instruction to a worker at a Los Angeles market who explains how his job has changed drastically because of the pandemic.

    SHRM’s Instagram page has a popular post about six skills to develop for future success, and on International Human Resources Day, a post recognized the contributions of HR professionals around the world and asked them to share what inspired them to join the profession. This kind of personalized approach to communicating with members, the report notes, is effective and will likely grow.

    VIRTUALLY TOGETHER

    Virtual events are the new go-to as associations rewrite their established frameworks and adapt rapidly to a new landscape for convening their members. Nearly half of the associations reviewed in the report are holding virtual events. It cites the American Psychological Association as a good example of combining the networking value of a live event with online learning in its webinar this week, “Job Searching During the Pandemic and Beyond.” The workshop touts the need to be prepared in an uncertain job market as COVID-19 markedly alters nearly every industry.

    ONLINE LEARNING 

    Virtual learning events are the coin of the realm as more members need to learn remotely. All 15 associations included in the report are currently offering online programs. Finn Partners applauds the American Bankers Association’s training center and community-building platforms for ease of navigation and use. And it gives high marks to the American Chemical Society’s program on making digital presentations better.

    Overall, providing relevant information while connecting more intuitively—and more personally—is a key to member engagement success, now and always.

    “Communications that balance fact-based delivery with the power of good, succinct storytelling tend to break through the clutter and get consumed, remembered, and shared,” the report says. “This is not new news; the more things change, the more they remain the same.”

  • 27 May 2020 1:15 PM | Kerrie Green (Administrator)

    As associations struggle to serve their members and deal with the economic fallout from the pandemic, experts say it’s crucial for them to cut through the clutter and provide valuable information tailored to their industry.

    Providing content is a key way associations can help their members navigate tough times. But in a world overrun with content, it’s important that associations curate properly, say two experts.

    Hilary Marsh, chief strategist for Content Company Inc., and Elizabeth Weaver Engel, M.A., CAE, chief strategist for Spark Consulting, recently released “Cut Through the Clutter: Content Curation, Associations’ Secret Weapon Against Information Overload” [PDF]. The white paper offers some strategies to help associations provide the best, most valuable content for members.

    “The baseline is providing value,” Marsh said. “The way we need to show value is through the content.”

    Associations provide a variety of content. Often, they are curators of knowledge that is important for the industry, but not necessarily tailored to the industry. But just sharing that information is not enough.

    “They’re sharing stuff with no context, like the latest industry headlines aggregated from another source,” Marsh said. And while outside experts are useful to members, the context to frame that expert information is how associations show their value.

    “You don’t need to reinvent that [outside expert] work,” Marsh said. “You need to add the right context for your particular members. Between your staff and your members, you do have the extra layer of context to add to the raw data.”

    Engel added, “The sense making and context providing, that’s what you bring to it. You can say, ‘This is why it matters for us.’”

    Since the world is overrun with information, Engel and Marsh said associations can make the mistake of adding to that overflow by not coordinating internally. When departments each put out their own information via social media or various newsletters, members can feel overburdened.

    “If that information is not orchestrated internally, [members] are getting tons of information from that association, which may or may not be consistent,” Marsh said. “It’s a content ecosystem; it has to be orchestrated in a way that makes sense.”

    Engel suggested that various departments who share content get together and talk so there can be some consensus about what is going on. From there, content can be centralized under one person or group, or coordinated by the groups. “Find the way that works for your association and your structure,” she said.

    The other key to curating useful content is by asking questions to determine if it’s a good fit.

    “We have a tendency to ask members and other audiences what they want,” Engel said. “You have to ask better questions: What challenges are you facing? What goals are you trying to achieve?”

    Member responses to those types of questions can drive the content an association is producing and sharing.

    Finally, once the content is produced and published, look at how people respond.

    “Pay attention to what happens,” Engel said. “We sometimes create the great thing, and say, ‘Woohoo! It’s finally released.’ Then we don’t pay attention to whether anyone is responding to it. We have to pay attention to what happens.”

    Marsh said the metrics can help you figure out ways to improve your content. “We have to go back and look at the metrics,” she said. “We can make some assessments. Is it too long? Is it the wrong headline? Are we speaking in too flat of a way?”

    This article was sourced directly from Associations Now here and written by Rasheeda Childress. 

  • 20 May 2020 3:15 PM | Abby Fields (Administrator)

    With many associations entering renewal season, they are looking for ways to enable affordability for members during these unprecedented times, whilst balancing their own cash flow. There are direct debit options, membership extensions, pauses and many possibilities in between. An option that you may like to explore is what AuSAE Industry Partner Openpay can offer.

    Openpay is a part of the buy-now-pay-later industry in Australia and uses the mantra “Buy Now, Pay Smarter”.  If your member chooses to use Openpay for their membership fees, Openpay will pay your association the full value of the membership upfront but allow your member to repay that amount – interest free – back to Openpay directly over 3 or 6 months.

    Importantly, your association will get paid the full value of the membership up-front resulting in no adverse effect on your cash flow.

    The benefits of allowing your members to pay in instalments through Openpay include:

    • No More Chasing Payments:  Responsibility for collecting repayments rests 100% with Openpay.
    • Improved Cash Flow:  With certainty that payment in full will be made within 24 hours, cash flow concerns are eliminated.
    • Modern Payment Solution:  Buy-now-pay-later solutions have been embraced by the marketplace and are now the preferred method of payment for a very large (and increasing) part of the population.
    • Increased Sales:  With the opportunity to pay fees over time the price (and any future price rises) will become less of an issue for your members resulting in an increase in sales.

    How does Openpay work?

    If you process payments through your website, Openpay can easily integrate with the most of the popular ecommerce platforms.  Openpay will be listed as a payment method option, making the membership purchase seamless.

    Alternatively, without website integration onto your payment platform your members will simply need to install the Openpay app on their phone and then call you to process the payment manually.

    While the service is interest-free for your members, Openpay charge a small merchant fee to your organisation.  Note:

    • Openpay’s merchant fee replaces the existing bank merchant fees you currently pay (it is not in addition to) and
    • AuSAE have been able to negotiate some special member-only rates on your behalf.

    To find out more information or to set up an account, please contact Jon Urquhart at Openpay on 0407 004 470 or email him: jonu@openpay.com.au



  • 20 May 2020 2:18 PM | Kerrie Green (Administrator)

    COVID-19 may inspire (or force) association leaders to go on the job hunt. Candidates and search committees alike will need to adjust.

    This may seem like a bad time to talk about searching for that bigger and better CEO gig. Most executives at the moment are busy enough in their current jobs, leading their staffs, members, and volunteers through office closures, postponed and restructured meetings, and a recession.

    But disruptions do exactly that—disrupt, moving organizations and their leaders in unexpected directions. According to an ASAE Research Foundation survey conducted in late April, nearly two-thirds of associations (64 percent) say their workplaces have experienced moderate to extreme disruption. For CEOs who are thinking of a different perch, or other leaders who want to rise to the corner office, it’s a good time to at least consider what skill sets will be meaningful in the future, and what a new-normal job search might look like.

    In a new white paper, “Search in the Time of COVID: Becoming a CEO in the 2020s” , Leaders’ Haven founder Cynthia Mills, FASAE, CAE, and Vetted Solutions president and founder Jim Zaniello, FASAE, explore some of the themes that will mark job searches in the coming years—more intense scrutiny of associations’ finances and culture, an emphasis on leaders’ transformational skills instead of resume lines, and a more conservative approach to compensation. (The paper addresses the job search from the CEO’s perspective; a forthcoming follow-up will look at boards.)

    “As this plays out, we’re going to see mergers, we’re going to see movement to AMCs, and we will see some associations that will go out of business,” Mills told me. “So CEOs who are doing an excellent job of looking at the landscape are recognizing that they’ve got to look out for their organization, and then they also have to look out for their career. People are looking at the idea of a plan B.”

    I spoke with Mills about the white paper and some of the things that boards and CEOs alike should be thinking about in the job market, and she shared a few additional insights.

    Associations will want a tested change agent in their next executive. “All of the baseline fundamental skills, all of the CAE skills, all of those things still have to be there—those haven’t gone away,” Mills says. “But being a transformational leader has moved up the list.” Candidates should be prepared to answer how they responded to divisive issues, and not just COVID-19. “How are you going to navigate disparate views at a time in which we need to make sure that we are retaining our membership and providing value in a potential long-term financial crisis? And during the biggest transition and transformation that we’re going to ever have seen with AI, and so on? Those are the kinds of complex questions I think [candidates] are going to get hit with.”

    Non-CEOs needn’t feel shut out from the CEO job search. If you’ve proved your leadership mettle as a CEO in the current moment, that speaks well of you. But candidates from elsewhere in the C-suite aren’t at a disadvantage, so long as they can demonstrate innovative qualities. “If you’ve got a change-leadership track record, if you’ve got the entrepreneurialism, I believe that boards are going to be looking for that,” Mills says. “They want to be confident that you’ve handled something, whether it’s COVID-19, or the financial side, or the organizational dynamic.”

    Candidates need to ask tough questions. Search committees need to get comfortable fielding them. As the white paper explains, a scan of a potential employer’s latest Form 990 and other financial statements isn’t going to provide a satisfactory picture of an association’s financial health. In interviews, Mills says, candidates should be willing to ask follow-ups on questions about finances and strategy related to the pandemic. Similarly, search committees should be ready to open up. “You must be comfortable with candidates asking you for more detailed information earlier in the process, because we’re just not in a ‘trust us’ space,” she says.

    There’s no room for ceremonial slots on the search committee now. The right CEO fit is always crucial, but more so now, which means that it’s better to save search-committee seats for people actively leading the organization instead of past presidents and other figures who are relatively disconnected from an association facing a crisis. “I would be a lot more uncomfortable as a candidate if the search committee was not primarily made up of members of the current board,” Mills says. “Those are the people who are currently charged with leading the organization through this very unique time. So if you’ve got a search committee that’s made up of former leaders or people who aren’t right there in the fire with you, how are you going to get the answers to important questions?”

    This article was written by Mark Athitakis, and sourced directly from Associations Now here

  • 20 May 2020 2:07 PM | Kerrie Green (Administrator)

    Not everyone will want to rush back to your office the minute it reopens. Here are a few things to consider as you decide whether to extend a work-from-home option beyond the immediate COVID-19 emergency.

    There’s an obvious question being asked at the moment by many organizations that sent people home to work two months ago: Should we let all (or at least some) of these newly remote workers stay remote?

    Some people thrive working in an office environment and may be eager to return. Many others may find the flexibility of working in a place where they feel comfortable and safe difficult to give up. As you start to think through your plan for reopening your office, here are some considerations that could influence your decisions about ongoing remote work:

    Some employees like working from home more than others. The response to remote work varies: Some employees love it, while others can’t wait to get back to the office. But those who like it really like it: In a recent Gallup poll, 59 percent of respondents said they’ll likely want to work remotely more often after the current crisis is over. “These fans of online work worry that they—and the country itself—will lose important benefits discovered during this unprecedented experiment in mass remote work,” Maria Cramer and Mihir Zaveri wrote for the New York Times. “People who have never liked schmoozing with colleagues have found new heights of productivity away from meetings and office chitchat.”

    People working at home are only slightly less productive. A recent study from the research and services firm Valoir found a 1 percent decrease in productivity, on average, among remote employees, and a 2 percent decrease among employees with children. Those who worked without anyone else in the house were 3 percent less productive. What’s behind the modest decrease? The Valoir report suggests that it’s social media, which may distract workers as much as two hours a day. But they tend to be spending more time at their desks to make up for it, about 9.75 hours per day. And the report notes that distractions would be an issue at the office as well. “Many workers said that remote work enabled them to reduce day-to-day distractions around the office including boss and coworker interruptions,” the report stated.

    Long-term remote work will require long-term adjustments by workers and employers. Making remote work permanent will require some mindset and policy shifts, writes Forbes contributor Enrique Dans. “For workers, it means understanding that the future will not simply involve balancing a laptop on your knees while sitting at the sofa, or clearing a space at the kitchen table, but redesigning the home to allocate an area to work, or not assuming, for example, that children will always be home,” Dans writes. “For companies, it involves creating appropriate methodologies, using certain technologies — not necessarily those made under pressure at the beginning of confinement proves to be the best option — launching training for the workforce, or even considering covering some of the costs involved, from connectivity to the necessary infrastructure, which can go beyond just a laptop.”

    This article was written by Ernie Smith and sourced from Associations Now here

  • 20 May 2020 2:03 PM | Kerrie Green (Administrator)

    Most economists agree based on recent reports on GDP and unemployment that we are entering a recession. And many association executives are wondering how this downturn will impact their membership numbers and what to project for the future.

    Amidst the current challenges, there is data to provide some hope and insights. For over a decade the Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report has captured association membership best practices and statistics. One of the major disruptions impacting association membership was the Great Recession in 2009. Looking back at the benchmarking survey data can serve as a guide on how associations responded to this recession. The data suggest that there are some near term challenges for some groups in the current environment but for most associations they can look forward to a strong membership rebound in the future.

    Past Recessionary Membership Results

    The findings from the 2010 benchmarking report published showing results for this recessionary time found that the percentage of associations seeing increases in membership counts dropped to a low of 36%. While an all-time high of 48% of associations reported an actual decline in their membership counts. Membership renewals were also a challenge. A total of 44% of respondents said that their renewal rate declined for the year. Using these past results as a guide it is likely that in 2020 many associations will see a dip in their renewal rates and total membership.

    However, the data did show that even during that time of economic dislocation, over a third of professional and trade associations still reported that their membership increased. And 42% reported that they improved their new member input. These groups were able to sustain growth and add new members because they found a way to provide value and to continue to effectively reach prospects. I remember one association executive described how members regularly hired other members who were out of work. His association shared with members the effectiveness of their networking with the message that the cheapest unemployment insurance they could get was joining the association. Likewise, today we are aware of some clients seeing the biggest new member months in their history by providing members and prospects with critical information, advocacy, and community during this pandemic. For some associations, growth is still achievable right now.

    For other organizations facing declines in the current environment, there is still long-term hope from our benchmarking data. The results from our research following the Great Recession shows that membership counts made a remarkable recovery in subsequent years. Following the economic downturn, the proportion of associations reporting increased membership rapidly rose from a low of 36% in the 2010 report to nearly 50% and higher in the following benchmarking years.

    Additionally, the driver for this rapid improvement appears to be associations refocusing on membership recruitment. Each of the four years after the Great Recession produced the best new member recruitment years to date in our research. Just three years after the low point, an all-time high of 63% of associations reported that their new member acquisition had increased.

    Membership Strategy Going Forward

    The encouraging news from the trends in our longitudinal benchmarking data shows that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Associations that have messages and services to help members' immediate needs can flourish even in this challenging time. For those that are seeing a drop in membership and struggling with renewing members, the data provides hope for the future.

    In either case, what should your membership marketing playbook look like for right now? For those associations that are currently offering indispensable services that are bringing in new members the plan should be to aggressively market to gain market share by reaching out as broadly as possible to your house prospects and third-party databases. For groups that are facing membership challenges, the strategy is to do everything you can to hold on to the members that you have worked so hard to gain over the years. Just like there was panic selling in the stock market you likely have many lapsed members who might leave in a cost-cutting panic. These are prime prospects to invite back with a special offer. Reach out to them with all the tools you have available including email, telephone, texting, and digital media.

    Going forward it is a time for all associations to invest in building the foundation and capacity for future growth. Maintain a presence in the marketplace, gather knowledge of member needs through research, test new marketing messages, and tactics to see what works. Build your marketing plan now so that you are ready to capitalize on the coming membership growth opportunities.

    This article was written by Tony Rossell from Marketing General Incorporated here


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