Associations Now: News, insight and analysis for association leaders
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To commemorate its 75th anniversary, the National Association of Concessionaires recently launched a member-referral program to recruit 30 new members in 30 days. It’s part of a yearlong effort to get current members to become new member sponsors.
How to hack it? The National Association of Concessionaires (NAC) turns 75 this year, and to kick off the anniversary celebration, members have a chance to earn a special prize if they serve as a new member sponsor.
The recruitment campaign, called 30 in 30, is a challenge to get 30 new members to join in 30 days. Members who serve as sponsors receive an honorary pin, which will be awarded at high-profile industry gatherings.
NAC Executive Vice President Dan Borschke, FASAE, CAE, has high hopes for the membership drive. “We hope to blow that goal out of the water,” he says. “Really this is a first initial push on recruitment for the year ahead.”
Why does it work? The membership drive is designed to get members engaged and excited about recruitment. “We also tie it into and encourage members to make a resolution to recruit more in the new year,” Borschke says.
Volunteer work not only aids your community, but it can also help you develop relationships and skills that are helpful in a professional environment. Find out how your fellow association pros have benefited from volunteering.
The personal benefits of community service and volunteer work can have a positive impact on your overall well-being, as well as bring skills and perspectives that are useful at work.
We asked our audience, “What is a volunteer experience you had that taught you something valuable for your professional life?” Here’s what they had to say.
Rob Bergeron, CAE
Relationship Manager, Marketing General Incorporated
When working as a national association staff member, I always prioritized and encouraged my colleagues to serve as a volunteer leader in a chapter or an organization of their own choosing. There is no better way to keep association management professionals appropriately grounded, in terms of the expectation management and communication practices needed to be effective in your job, than by walking in the shoes of the volunteers you are charged with developing from the staff side.
Director of Education and Training, Society of Government Meeting Professionals
I have used my meeting planning skills to assist two nonprofit organizations. I have learned that working with volunteers is very rewarding, both to the organization and especially to me. Volunteers often work harder—without compensation—than paid workers and have a genuine interest in the success of the organization. I hope that I am bringing value to these very worthy organizations.
Sabrina Kidwai, CAE
Membership and Marketing Director, National Association of Bond Lawyers
I was president of the PRSA-NCC chapter, and I stepped into the role when a president had to relocate midyear. For 17 months, I led the chapter through a variety of initiatives and learned a great deal about leadership, membership recruitment, and managing volunteers. All of these experiences will help me become a great CEO one day. Being involved at the board level for seven years provided me with insights on best practices to work with the executive director and the board, which will help me when I become a CEO. Volunteering gives you the ability to gain skills outside of your daily job and see if running an association is something you ultimately want to do as a career.
President-Elect, National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals
Volunteering as a NAPO leader, both on the local and national level, has impacted my personal and professional growth and development.
One thing I recognized early on was that the time spent as a volunteer leader is never lost time. The rewards we reap and their impact are often not realized until many years later. What one gets back in rewards, whether tangible or intangible, can be as varied as those who lead. For me, they came in the form of personal and professional growth, by impacting my relationship with colleagues and clients.
Getting involved has given me a strong voice and provided a venue for expressing my opinions. It has reinforced my skills as a connector of people and resources, and as a result, has made me more successful with my clients. They learn from me, while I learn from them. Just as NAPO, it’s a team process and effort. As a result, my business continues to grow and evolve.
Technology can streamline many processes, but not all associations are taking advantage. Here’s how to plan an efficient tech strategy. Also: tools to boost and revamp your content.
Technology is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal, yet only 25 percent of associations prioritize technology to help manage their organizations, according to Salesforce. That means three-quarters of associations are losing out on opportunities to better engage with members and position themselves successfully in the long run.
“Getting on board with a strong technology strategy can help you navigate the tech world and find the best tools and resources to keep things going strong at your association,” says Audra Hopkins on the Web Scribble blog.
To jumpstart your technology strategy, Hopkins recommends:
Strategizing your tech goals. “By carving out specific goals and prioritizing what you’d like to see from the technology you use, you can be sure your technology strategy satisfies the needs your association, your staff, and your members have,” she says.
Creating a technology budget. No matter if it’s big or small, setting a budget outlines for the whole team what tech should be prioritized and what can wait until next year.
Doing your research. “Before making any quick decisions, you want to spend time researching what your association needs in terms of technology,” Hopkins says. “Of course, there will be many great tools and software your association can purchase, but you need to compare and contrast based on your association’s needs and desires in order to match up with your ideal technology.”
Evaluating your tech over time. Technology is always evolving, so what tools work for you now might not be the best solution in the future. Continually loop back in on your current tech strategy to make sure it’s still efficient and adapt as needed.
Content strategy is about more than just words—it’s about new ideas, research, targeting the right audience, marketing, SEO, and more. If you’re wondering how to get started, or hitting writer’s block, the MarketMuse blog shares 183 resources to help up your content game.
“Keeping abreast of industry news, learning new skills, or finding content strategy tips as a content strategist doesn’t have to be a chore, and you don’t have to do your job in a vacuum,” says Stephen Jeske in the post. “Following people, groups, and blogs; attending classes and events; and reading the right books can help you up your content strategy game.”
Despite evidence that embracing modern tech helps strengthen finance departments, only 1 in 10 appear to be taking a tech-forward approach, according to an AICPA survey. Issues holding respondents back include a reliance on legacy technology and security concerns.
Evolving tech is changing the nature of pretty much every role within your organization, although some are less prepared for the onslaught than others.
And, according to the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants—along with its two subsidiaries, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants—the finance department might need a little more help than most. A recent study about tech’s role in finance, commissioned by the associations in tandem with the enterprise computing giant Oracle, reports that nearly 90 percent of organizations surveyed have yet to add any automation or artificial intelligence elements to their finance work, while just 10 percent of finance teams say they’re actually ready to take such work on.
“One factor preventing teams from better fulfilling this role is a lack of digital technologies in the finance function, including artificial intelligence,” AICPA Chief Executive of Management Accounting Andrew Harding said in the report. “Without these tools to automate mundane tasks, finance teams remain burdened with transaction processing, manual controls and compliance, leaving them little time to focus on business strategy.”
Some highlights from the report:
Those who aren’t savvy know it. While just 10 percent of organizations say their finance teams meet their technical ambitions, the numbers are particularly stark when comparing them to organizations that aren’t. More than 80 percent of “digital finance leaders” claim, respectively, that they’re offering compelling digital experiences and that they’re able to meet the public’s needs. This number falls to 30 percent or below in the case of those who aren’t tech leaders.
Legacy is a factor in slow tech innovation. Half of respondents stated that an unwillingness to re-engineer legacy finance processes was a major factor preventing automation from coming to finance—the second-largest barrier after data and information security concerns (63 percent). This led to a situation where 37 percent of organizations took in more data than they actually analyzed. However, the challenges of old processes are clear for many respondents: 73 percent of large organizations said they would work on their internal expertise, and 61 percent would work on improving their legacy systems.
The report also highlights examples of companies that it sees as digital finance leaders, including Instacart, Western Digital, and the Royal Bank of Scotland.
While those immediate effects are significant, the lingering shutdown will likely affect the meetings industry long after the government reopens, leaving association planners and prospective attendees and presenters scrambling. Here’s a look a three of those longer-term impacts.
Fewer Government-Submitted Abstracts
Scientific meetings rely greatly on government employees who submit abstracts and present their research. But the shutdown is limiting their ability to do so. In many cases, they can’t even be included on abstracts submitted by nongovernment researchers.
Not knowing when the shutdown will end, many associations are extending their submission deadlines in that hopes that federal researchers will still have the opportunity to present at their meetings.
ATTENTION U.S. GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE AUTHORS: Due to the U.S. Government Shutdown, IAFP has extended your abstract submission deadline to Mon., Jan. 28, 2018.
Just as federal employees can’t submit abstracts, many also can’t register for future meetings or book travel at the moment. This is not only discouraging to researchers who rely on conferences to collaborate with colleagues and share their work, but it also means associations can’t accurately estimate how many attendees will be onsite and plan their budget or project revenue accordingly.
Recognizing that government employees are unable to commit to attending its April annual meeting, the Seismological Society of America is allowing them to complete their registration form now to sign up for workshops and field trips, but they have the option to “pay later by check.” In addition, ISPOR is allowing government employees to note their participation as “preliminary.”
However, since conference speakers and venues are selected months in advance, the shutdown is likely to affect the booking process for associations meetings taking place over the next several months, particularly those that rely on speakers from government agencies or venues that are federally owned.
So, if an association has an upcoming conference in DC and is looking to book an event at the National Postal Museum or the U.S. Institute of Peace, that’s not possible at the moment. In addition, many government officials will not be able to commit as speakers, which could leave a hole in some meeting agendas.
What other long-term effects do you think the current shutdown will have on meetings? Let us know in the comments.
Grants totaling $4 million from three major foundations will support an American Alliance of Museums initiative to help museums build more diverse boards. The effort comes two years after an AAM study identified the problem.
In a study two years ago, nearly half of museums surveyed by the American Alliance for Museums said they had no people of color on their boards. Why? “Research suggests that lack of diversity in board composition may be a network problem,” the report said.
Now AAM is taking steps to change museum leadership with a new framework for improving board diversity at cultural institutions.
“Museum trustees and leaders can and must do more,” AAM President and CEO Laura Lott said in a news release announcing the program, titled “Facing Change: Advancing Museum Board Diversity & Inclusion.”
“Complementing the hard work and investments being made to diversify the talent pool, programming, and collections of museums, AAM aims to drive long-lasting systemic culture change,” Lott said.
The initiative has the strong support of several prominent foundations—The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Alice L. Walton Foundation, and Ford Foundation—which are providing $4 million in grants to get the program off the ground.
The initiative will help solve the diversity problem by providing assistance in matching people from diverse backgrounds who want to serve on museum boards with institutions seeking new perspectives. It will also offer training on issues such as implicit bias and the need for organizational change. Meanwhile, AAM will work with 50 museums—10 in each of five different cities—to help revamp their boards.
The biggest goal will be to improve leadership engagement, “the most significant predictor of an organization’s diversity and inclusion effectiveness,” AAM said.
In comments to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Lott said that more diverse and inclusive boards will make better decisions for museums in the future.
“It is really important for the boards to have made some headway,” Lott said. “Part of a successful match will be a board that is ready to receive people that may be from outside of their current network and who have different perspectives.”
Argumentative debates aren’t conducive to reaching your organization’s goals. Incorporating these three habits into conversation can make for a more productive discussion. Also: the rationale behind Slack’s new logo.
In any organization, a constant stream of ideas is healthy. What’s not so healthy is the way they are often debated: in disrespectful, toxic arguments that pit team members against one another.
“We get sucked into trying to ‘win’—so we look good or don’t make the group we represent look bad—which leads us to ignore logic and evidence that go against our original beliefs. And so we fight without making much progress,” says Shane Snow on Harvard Business Review. “We can change this dynamic, moving toward more effective discourse (exchanging diverse ideas) and debate (arguing honestly for and against the merits of those ideas), by training people to adopt the right habits.”
Remembering that we’re all on the same team. Leaders should emphasize that employees are working together to achieve one shared goal. Snow suggests starting the conversation with phrases such as, “There is no ‘winner.’ The team wins if we make progress.”
Not making it personal, and sticking to the facts. “Arguments tend to fracture, especially when people feel like their ideas or identities are coming under attack,” Snow says. Keep debates on track by differentiating facts from interpretations.
Being intellectually humble. “For a debate to truly be productive, participants need to be willing to respect every viewpoint and change their minds when necessary,” Snow says. “This is what psychologists call intellectual humility, and it’s one of the most important skills a good leader—and productive debater—can develop.”
Why Slack Changed Its Logo
Ta-da! From today, Slack has a new logo, the start of a general refresh of our look. A little simpler, a little clearer, and (we think) a little better. Read more about this change in the handy blog post we’ve written about it: https://t.co/LT1ju7kGxwpic.twitter.com/aceZMCb5St
Headed for a brand refresh? Take some tips from Slack, which recently announced its new logo and the rationale behind it.
“Firstly, it’s not change for the sake of change. That said, change is inevitable, and something to be embraced,” the Slack team writes in a post, “but that’s not a good enough reason to change a logo. A good reason to change a logo is that it’s not doing the job you want it to do—and because a simpler, more distinctive evolution of it could do that job better.”
The change comes with a desire to create a more cohesive brand identity, something Slack says is essential for any brand. “The important thing about being a brand is that whenever people see you in the wild, they should recognize that it’s you,” the team writes. “It’s still us. We’re still Slack. But more consistent and, we hope, more instantly recognizable.”
Workshops and education sessions: 100 plus
The National Automobile Dealers Association’s 2019 NADA Show begins next week in San Francisco. Attendance is expected to top 20,000.
More than 20,000 auto industry professionals are headed to San Francisco to find solutions to their everyday dealership issues, learn about new products and services, hear the latest updates on legal and regulatory affairs, and get to know their colleagues.
Organization: National Automobile Dealers Association
Conference: 2019 NADA Show
Venue: Moscone Center
City: San Francisco
Have a Meeting on the Horizon? If you’d like us to consider your meeting for an upcoming Conference Circuit, contact Samantha Whitehorne at email@example.com.
Following a welcome reception on Thursday evening, the 2019 NADA Show officially kicks off Friday afternoon with an opening general session featuring Kat Cole. The COO and president of FOCUS Brands North America will share her perspective on what it takes to create and lead successful teams, drive innovation and growth, lead with heart, and sustain excellence. Also on the agenda:
Peer-to-peer learning. Sessions collectively known as The Exchange are roundtable discussions that feature brainstorming and problem-solving among auto industry peers. Each Exchange session is based on a timely topic selected by attendees at the time of registration. Topics this year include attracting and hiring technicians and differentiating your dealership from the competition.
In the zone. The Social Connection Zone is a space to get free, one-on-one advice from NADA social connectors. Attendees can ask about their most pressing social media and digital marketing issues or get help with a tech question that they haven’t been able to answer.
Speaker series. The Distinguished Speakers Series, which debuted last year, was so popular that it’s back again. Four dynamic speakers will focus on key leadership topics that are top of mind for dealers today. The lineup includes Carey Lohrenz, the U.S. Navy’s first female F-14 fighter pilot, who will discuss fearless leadership, and Mark King, executive emeritus at Adidas, who will talk about creating an environment that supports creativity.
The Universities Space Research Association is launching the Earth from Space Institute, a new program that aims to identify problems happening on the ground from the sky. And they’re bringing in a former NASA official to lead the initiative.
Most associations are primarily concerned about Earth from a direct vantage point: That is, most of their work is based from the planet, and serves people based on the planet.
But with a new initiative, the Universities Space Research Association is thinking about things from the outside in. This week, USRA announced the creation of a new subsidiary called the “Earth from Space Institute,” which will research the planet’s various systems and how they’re affected by change (whether manmade or naturally occurring) from the sky.
“The establishment of the Earth from Space Institute is part of our strategic plan to expand USRA’s research activities in Earth Sciences,” USRA President and CEO Dr. Jeffrey Isaacson said in a news release.
Helping lead the charge is a research scientist who knows a lot about studying the earth’s imagery: Dr. Miguel O. Román, a former NASA employee who helped create Black Marble, a system of analysis for nighttime maps that opens up detection opportunities for issues such as power outages.
In his new role at USRA, Román will help collaborate and forge relationships with public and private stakeholders to create partnerships that could help drive solutions to issues like climate change and disaster risk reduction.
“Miguel is at the forefront of what is happening to our planet,” added Dr. Nicholas White, who serves as USRA’s senior vice president of science. “He’s an outstanding scientist whose accomplishments focus on observing our home planet and how it’s changing. We are delighted to have him on board at USRA.”
Although Big Brothers Big Sisters is more recognizable and has a longer history than most associations, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t grapple with similar issues, such as volunteer recruitment. Using bolder and more modern messaging and branding, it hopes to bring in new mentors.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is a well-known, well-respected mentoring organization with more than 250 local agencies across the United States. But BBBS also has more than 33,000 youth (“Littles”) on a waiting list for a Big Sister or Big Brother.
As the organization’s leadership talked to the agencies and other stakeholders, “Something that kept coming up was that our brand needed to be updated, and that, overall, our agencies would be more successful in attracting volunteers—especially men, and especially men of color, which is a large need for us—if we rebranded to be bolder and more modern,” said Adam Vasallo, vice president of development and marketing.
So BBBS overhauled its logo and messaging late last year. The old logo depicted purple figures of a Big and a Little, which some said represented only a young child and not young adult Littles. The new logo has a black background and displays a capital B, with the lowercase b shape in white, representing the Little, and the top part of the B in green, representing the Big’s support. It aims to better appeal to men and volunteers from all generations.
Vasallo noted that although the organization is 115 years old, it has gone through only a few logos. “It’s been about 20 years since we’ve had a brand refresh, and with this one, we kind of went all in,” he said. The new messaging uses the line “Together, we are defenders of potential,” which shifts the focus from the mentors to the youth and conveys the urgency of getting mentors to defend this potential.
The new messaging also communicates that mentors “don’t have to have superhuman powers. We really feel like they’re ‘life qualified,’” Vasallo said. “We know that this potential is inherent in every child. Our Bigs don’t need to feel like they have to put that potential in the child—they just have to defend it.” The organization has done a good job of talking about the benefits of mentorship over the years, “but now we need everybody to understand that it’s a job that I can do and you can do—you’re qualified by just being present and being a caring person,” he said.
As youth face challenges such as violence and bullying, “there are 8.5 million youth in the country that currently don’t have adult to turn to,” Vasallo said. So the rebrand stresses “the importance of having a supportive individual in their corner to make a difference.”
The new language “has allowed us to be more authoritative when we talk about ourselves as being the leaders” and the top mentoring agency, Vasallo said. And this helps with fundraising too.
“Just as important as recruiting volunteers is raising funds,” particularly to support a vital function in the organization: its professional match support managers in each local agency. These front-line employees match Bigs with Littles and issue reports on progress, through a youth outcome survey that measures long-term outcomes, such as whether the Little is going to finish school, partake in risky behaviors, go to college, and build healthy relationships.
As part of the process, BBBS also implemented its first digital asset-management platformthat allows all the agencies to access and customize the rebranded collateral. Because the agencies vary in size and staff, “it was a complete game changer,” Vasallo said. Local staff numbers vary from three to more than 100, and some agencies serve 100 kids, while others serve more than 1,000. Now, the national office can better provide marketing services to all the agencies and ensure consistency.
In addition, the organization has shared the new branding with its corporate partners, and “it’s been exciting to share the new branding with them and talk about defenders of potential,” Vasallo said. “It’s a big advancement for our organization to use such bold, empowering language,” but all the partners have embraced it.
“Our ultimate goal is to make sure that more youth are able to be matched with a mentor who can empower them to reach their full potential,” Vasallo said.