I check LinkedIn every day, and that's rarely a waste of time. At least one of the 500+ people in my network posts something useful, funny, or interesting. Not to mention all the great association-related groups I'm lucky enough to be a part of!
Here is some of the best content I've found from those groups this week.
From the Association Executives of North Carolina (AENC) Group
Six Steps for Stability in Board Succession by Annette Medlin
"Review Requirements for Each Position. Take a look at existing job descriptions. If they don’t exist, write them. Put together an organization chart showing the chain of command. As you review existing protocol, revise and restructure as necessary."
From the Georgia Society for Association Executives (GSAE) Group
Three Tools to Promote Not-For-Profit Organizations with Form 990 by Save Sietsma
"In today’s competitive environment, it is important to maximize the utility of all available tools – including the Form 990 tax return. Remember, Form 990 is a public document that will be viewed by existing and potential donors, as well as the general public. CRI’s nonprofit CPAs can help your organization file a comprehensive Form 990 that builds support for your fund raising efforts."
From the "Marketing an Association" Group
Sir Alex Ferguston Reveals Eight Secrets of Success in Managing Teams by Anita E.
"When you give young people a chance, you not only create a longer life span for the team, you also create loyalty. They will always remember that you were the manager who gave them their first opportunity."
From the Member Engagement- For Online Community and Membership Professionals Group
Member Relationships by Meagan Rockett
There's nothing to quote here because it's an infographic of a summer survey of Canadian Association Executives. It's great! Check it out!
From the YAP (Young Association Professionals) Group
9 Disruptive Ideas for Associations to Watch by Ernie Smith
"The ahead-of the-curve disruptions on this list aren’t all technology-related, but they all challenge expectations—they swim upstream, zagging when everyone else is zigging. They don’t represent the status quo at the moment—but there’s a good chance that, given a little time, the status quo could catch up to get here. They may not make sense for you right now, but they make sense for somebody now, and they could for you later."
Need some help getting started with LinkedIn or other social media?
Have you ever REALLY listened to “Santa Baby?” If you haven’t, take a listen. The amount of stuff she asks for is absurd. Now granted in the spirit of catchy holiday music the song is supposed to have a Betty Boop-esque satirical charm, but it makes me think of the articles that come out every year detailing an approximate cost of the 12 Days of Christmas in modern times.
And that, of course, led me to be concerned about the budgets of my Small Staff Association leader readers. All of your members have a “Santa Baby” list, just jam packed with hugely expensive desires of your association that are just funny in their grandness.
But wait! There’s good news!
While those are your members’ wildest dreams, they are not your members’ EXPECTATIONS.
But as a bonus holiday surprise, you can work on some of those big wishes for 2014.
Santa Baby wish: More hours in the day
The real problem: Like you, your members just run out of time for all of the important things in their life including your association, their jobs, and their families.
How you can help: Making your events constructive, well timed, and convenient.
Santa Baby wish: More money
The real problem: Well that one is pretty simply stated. And again, you may have this problem too.
How you can help: Offer discounts when possible. Make your events affordable but more importantly WORTH IT. Definitely prove value of your association membership and events every chance you get.
Santa Baby wish: Better job, or more job satisfaction
The real problem: It might come back to money, but more likely it has to do with recognition and praise. Everyone, regardless of who they are or where they work, wants to look forward to their job.
How you can help: Besides the obvious professional development, you can go the extra mile with recognition. When someone takes on a volunteer role or is just a good member, make sure it’s known!
Santa baby wish: Better health
The real problem: Health is always on everyone’s mind these days, especially with the Affordable Care Act taking off in 2014.
How you can help: Have you considered holding a workshop or having a speaker come in to explain the ACA and how it will impact your members? If you want to avoid that topic completely (which is understandable, it’s very politically loaded) then focus on wellness! How about a fitness challenge or nutritional advice?
Really, these aren’t huge wishes from your members, but they may seem insurmountable if you try to take them all on. Even though you may not be able to wave your magic association wand and fix everything, even asking can go a long way. Ask your members what they really want for the holidays! You may be surprised at how much you can help with.
Is membership sanity on your Santa Baby list? How about shopping for an AMS?
One of the most profound sessions from ASAE 2013 was the session on introverts. It prompted a lot of discussion on social media, among association pros, and definitely in this office. That’s why a recent article on Mashable caught my eye: How Introverts Can Stand Out at Work.
Most people probably assume that association leaders (or anyone who works with a large group of people, for that matter) are always extroverts. That’s just not true! While many of us aren’t 100% comfortable with putting ourselves absolutely in one column or another and recognize both qualities of introverts and extroverts in us, studies show that many successful leaders would call themselves introverts.
So then why is it still difficult for the “quiet ones” to get recognized at work?
The answer is simple. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, right? Well, in this case no repair is necessarily needed, but attention is given. The more talkative, social, and “higher-profile” employees, or members in your case, are the ones talking, so they’re the ones being listened to. That might seem like you, in the face of an “extrovert” board or some of your more introverted members aren’t getting recognized for hard work or are overlooked entirely.
So here’s what the Mashable article says about introverts standing out:
The first tip is to identify and flaunt your quiet strengths. It seems like the flaunting would be the hard part for an introvert, but it might be the identifying. When you don’t often hear what your strengths are, sometimes it’s hard to really know them. Start with what you’re proud of, and why you like your position and go from there.
The second Mashable tip is “know when to rise to a challenge.” Honestly this is a tough one for anyone, introvert or extrovert, because challenges are outside the normal scope of behavior. It’s always difficult to try something new and branch out into the unknown. But it’s also essential for growth!
Finally, the third point hits on a very common problem with introverts: miscommunication. Silence is often interpreted in the worst ways but as with most things, communication is key. Doing a great job and working hard speaks louder than words, anyway!
The truth is, it can be difficult for anyone, introvert or extrovert, to navigate the professional world. When you add in a few thousand members and about a zillion tasks, it gets even more complicated.
Finally, don’t be ashamed of yourself no matter how your personality is! You’ll feel the need to continue to grow and learn, but don’t force yourself to be an extrovert if you’re not. You can still be an awesome leader either way!
Member, Member at Large, Board, Staff, Leader, Director, and Council. Associations are a soup of titles and labels. But they exist for a reason, and nobody can deny that they’re important.
What the specific titles mean varies from association to association, but let’s examine the reasons behind titles and why they’re so important to you, your members, and the rest of the world.
You can’t deny that “I’m the Director of Membership for WXYZ” sounds a bit more dignified than “I handle membership for WXYZ.” Not that, of course, the title means much. Any leadership position in an association title or no, paid or volunteer, busts his or her butt. But a title has a bit of pull for the member/volunteer/staffer and stands his or her apart for their hard work.
2) Someone to turn to
When potential members, or donors are looking for someone to connect with in your association, titles can clear the way. For example, if a local business is looking for a worthy nonprofit to connect with for charitable giving purposes, a treasurer would be the right person to reach out to. If a new restaurant just opened up with a great meeting space and they want to offer some discounts, an events chair is a great start. Clear up your association to the rest of the world with titles!
3) Give you association some faces
Along that same vein, members need an actual person to connect with. Questions pop up, and as the tides of participation ebb and flow volunteers may want to step up. Not only is it important for the community to know whom to reach, but your members need to know too!
4) Resume building and networking
Nobody can deny that association leadership titles look great on a LinkedIn profile or a resume. Plus those distinctions make your members more likely to mention your association on their personal social media, share updates and details among their private circle, and become personal association advocates. A win-win for everyone!
5) Easier for future delegation
As your association grows and changes, jobs become consolidated or expand, new duties popup, and without question things change. Sooner or later the question will come up: “Who is going to handle that job?” Now, titles won’t answer that question entirely, but it’ll at least create some buckets where new tasks may fall.
The bottom line? Find what works for your association. (Isn’t that always the bottom line?) Stumped at what your association’s titles should be? Ask!
Are you a membership coordinator looking for an easier way to handle your changing membership base?
Every year the Clickers do Thanksgiving right with a huge potluck. We all bring in dishes, ranging from the traditional Thanksgiving favorites to the "somewhat different, but refreshing" to the "Why is this on our table? Oh well, it's delicious!" Check out our pictures from yesterday's celebration!
The layout before it was attacked by hungry Clickers
Things are heating up!
Laying out desserts
YUM! We could hardly wait for the second (or third) course
Waiting to dig in
The line forms
Nom nom nom
Caught Kyle mid-bite
More chowing down
Lindsay reclines to make room for more
After the Clickers ravaged the display
Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!
Thanksgiving is late this year and Christmas is in the middle of the week, which means New Year’s is too. It’ll be tough to reach members during the next 5 or 6 weeks.
Why you shouldn’t bother:
It’s family time. The holidays are the “life” part of the work/life balance. They may be going out of town or having relatives come visit them. Chances are they want to focus on their spouses, children, and other relatives, not to mention parties and gatherings. Work and other obligations will likely be the furthest thing from their minds. Laptops turned off or used exclusively for fireplace scenes or holiday music. Phones muted. Day planners abandoned. You probably couldn't get them if you tried. Give your members some space this holiday season. After all, don’t you want the same thing?
Why you have to:
Even though the space between Thanksgiving and New Years can be a place of happy low-productivity, New Year’s is the opposite. People are evaluating their needs and budgets for the previous year and the New Year, but most importantly they’re setting goals. Sounds like something your association would like to be in on, right?
How you should handle it:
If you do have a December meeting or event planned, take this opportunity to make it a low-pressure, fun event and do a little explanabragging. Talk about how much your association has done in 2013. Bring up highlights and thank the attendees for all their hard work. Perhaps share an anecdote or particular point of praise for exemplary members.
Most importantly, give a quick glimpse of what’s going on in 2014. Get your members and attendees pumped for the New Year!
Not having a December event?
Now’s the perfect time to have a good, detailed newsletter recapping the year and previewing the coming year. Share some pictures on social media that really emphasize the fun and value of your association. Congratulate members on promotions and career moves (showing off your professional development aid) and touch on acts of service, volunteerism, or charitable giving from 2013. Spread the love on social media as well, and even a short and sweet holiday card can go a long way. If you have time, a personal note or E-mail for your more steady, active members will help as well.
The bottom line:
You should enjoy the holidays, and your members should too. Take this opportunity to reconnect with family and let things stay tabled for awhile. That way you’re refreshed and ready to take on the New Year!
Is a new AMS in your 2014 plans?
MemberClicks is a company dedicated to a full service experience for both customers and our local community. That means that Clickers spend a good amount of time volunteering and donating.
MemberClicks has a long-standing offer to send free volunteer help to customer and other association events in the Atlanta area. This year, Clickers were lucky enough to volunteer at the Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical Assistance Center (RHYTTAC) National Conference in Atlanta on November 12-14, where they helped check in and organize attendees that serve at-risk, runaway and homeless youth throughout the U.S. for their customer, Youth and Family Services Network.
The Obesity Society, another MemberClicks customer, was also able to take advantage of Clicker help with their annual event for Obesity Week. Doctors, medical professionals, and others invested in the world's health gathered at Atlanta's Georgia World Congress Center to exchange information and learn from November 11-16. Information on Obesity Week 2013 events and Obesity Society can be found at www.obesity.org.
As part of its focus on serving the association community, MemberClicks has a standing offer to any association, customer or not, holding an event in Atlanta. Associations that would like a MemberClicks volunteer to help with their event can send an email to email@example.com for more information.
In keeping with its focus on service at this time of year, MemberClicks holds several charity initiatives for its employees, starting with a Thanksgiving canned food drive. This year it benefits Save It Forward, an organization focused on students in need and their families. More information about Save It Forward is available at www.aliveministriesinc.org.
MemberClicks employees are also donating items for homeless and distressed young adults ages 18-21 that are often overlooked in the holiday season. Clickers are donating items such as clothing, toiletry items, and journals to young adults in need. More information on Covenant House is available at www.covenanthousega.org.
Clickers are also animal lovers so additionally they are collecting items for the LifeLine Animal Project. LifeLine is a local group that provides low cost or free spay and neuter service, pet wellness programs, and shelter aid. MemberClicks has a donation drive for dog and cat food and other pet needs such as treats, toys, and leashes.
The season of giving doesn't end with the New Year. On MemberClicks' ongoing volunteer participation, CEO Mark Sedgley says, "I continue to be blown away by the 'heart for service' that our team continues to demonstrate. We are very committed to serving both the association community and our local one here in Atlanta."
How is your association giving back this holiday season?
It’s hard to imagine that women in the American workplace are unequal any more, but a gender gap still exists in many industries. The nonprofit and association world is no exception. Naturally, studies are done often throughout the years that point to one trend or another, but it's still a large, confusing world. That's why we've compiled a list to help women navigate the complicated world of being an association leader!
Study: Gender Gap Pronouned for Nonprofits, Workplace at Large by Ernie Smith
“While the study finds that women continue to dominate the nonprofit space—they made up 75 percent of the sector’s total workforce in 2005—that representation doesn’t translate to the C-suite. According to the study, just 16.3 percent of nonprofits with budgets above $50 million had a female CEO in 2009.”
Top Five Reasons Why Women Flock to Nonprofit Jobs by Kerry Hannon
“For many women, though, nonprofits are attractive places to work, glass ceiling be damned.
Why? It’s one door that is easier to swing through when they return to work after being out for a few years raising children or caring for an aging relative.”
Women Leaders and Work From a Non-Profit Perspective by Tensie Whelan
“…it is a man's world. Whether for-profit or non-profit, almost all of my peers are men.
Some of the debate has centered on "male" vs. "female" values and traits, with some asking why women should adopt stereotypically male traits in order to get ahead. I think that is the wrong question. I think there are real strengths in both "male" and "female" traits. We need to learn from the effective traits associated with the opposite gender, and incorporate them into our overall skill sets.”
Male nonprofit Executives Earn 27% More Than Female Leaders, 2009 Study of Fla. Executives Finds by Caroline Preston
“The survey of 145 nonprofit groups in the region found that men who held the top job at a charity earned an average of $110,962, compared with $80,987 for women.
That pay gap is partially due to the fact that men are more likely to lead large organizations — which offer higher salaries — than are women, according to Margaret Linnane, executive director of the Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership Center at Rollins College, in Winter Park, Fla., which conducted the survey”
Women and Associations by MemberClicks
“Women’s groups take up a big section of associations, and in fact, I even belong to a women’s professional association. Honestly, much of the focus of women’s associations is similar to those of other associations: networking, mentorship, career advancement, collaboration, etc. Since the pay gap is narrowing and equal opportunities for leadership are emerging, many women’s associations have less of a focus on major policy and lobbying issues and more of a focus on career advancements.”
Associations Now’s Ernie Smith wrote an article about technology and associations that caught my eye: Don’t Fool Yourself: Your Technology Has An Expiration Date.
Ernie’s piece talks largely about physical hardware (like drives and discs) that breaks, fades out, or stops working. Say you store your information about previous members, old budgets, and old events on a hard drive. Basically unless you keep up with it, it’ll probably just break one day. Technology will move past it and that will be that.
That’s where cloud storage comes in. When you hand your data over to a secure cloud storage company, it becomes their problem. You can retrieve your data any time over a web-based platform, and it’s up to the storage company to keep the servers updated so that they’re secure and working properly over time. Of course you do have to pay.
But there are different technological expiration dates small staff associations have to worry about, and they don’t always have much to do with three-year warranties on hard drives. Your association’s technology “expires” when it’s not working for you anymore. I’m talking of course about AMS solutions.
Sometimes that has to do with the technology changing, which happens sometimes with regular product developments. Because every association is so different, a blanket solution is just impossible. That’s why there are so many options on the market and it takes so long to go through all the demos and find a solution that works for you.
Changes in the provider itself can cause the software to become “obsolete” to you too (remember that obsolescence doesn’t always mean the software is bad, but that it’s not working for you anymore.) Sometimes when companies restructure and grow normally the focus changes. Watch out for hiccups in customer service and care, which is something that is huge to small staff associations who regularly need training and adjustments for ever-evolving and changing leadership and membership.
Finally, it’s possible that you just outgrew your old method. Perhaps you need more functionality and you have more members than when you started. Remember that it never hurts to look, and often to demo another solution will only cost you some time.
There are a lot of ways for technology to break, and when it comes to membership management software, often it’s simply a matter of growth and change. Maybe it’s time to start thinking about a new AMS?
As your association is evaluating your 2013 budget and looking ahead to 2014, it might be time to entertain a fantasy common among association executives: more help. But before you post an ad on Monster.com just yet, there are several things to consider. We’ve broken it down into an easy list format for your viewing pleasure!
Before you decide to hire:
Are key tasks not getting done due to limited time for current staff?
Is there an under served area of your association’s operation?
Are members generally feeling as if their needs are being met?
Is your hired staff completely fried and overworked?
All of these are important questions to have answered already before you go to your board or other leadership to approve a new hire. Remember this has to be an open and probably lengthy conversation!
The pros of hiring a new staffer:
More time for you to focus on big picture projects
Potentially another person to pay attention to member issues
Whole staff can take a deep breath and get more balance
Staff size could add some clout to your association
And the cons:
Money money money (obviously)
Could create a crutch for current staffers
The hiring process is lengthy (and difficult)
Dealing with future turnover is always a possibility
Maybe now’s not the right time for you to bring on someone else. Never fear! There are ways to still answer your association’s need without breaking the bank.
How else could you get more help (for free or cheaper?)
Ask for volunteers
Offer a comprehensive internship for college credit or a small stipend
Arrange for collaboration with a graduate study course
Reevaluate present work flow and “cut the fat”
What could you do with that money instead?
Hold a recognition and awards banquet for your active members and volunteers
Publish informational materials about your association’s mission
Invest in a leadership retreat with your board
There’s often more than one way to solve whatever obstacles your association is currently facing, and that’s true about your obstacles as a leader as well. It’s always somewhat heart breaking to hear that there’s just no room in the budget for more staff right now, but that doesn’t mean help isn’t coming. It just takes a little creative problem solving!
One thing that could take some heat off of you is a great AMS.