Welcoming New Association Members

Welcome

How much time, effort and money does your Association spend on recruiting new members? Probably quite a bit! To ensure that all these efforts pay off, you want to make sure to take the right steps to make your members feel welcome!

 
Once a new member has been sourced and approved, it is important that they are given a good first impression of the Association. Experienced board members and long time members likely know their association inside out. But keep in mind – your new members don’t! It is important to provide new members with all relevant information about the association. To guide them through new territory but also to leave that sparkling first impression. It will give them reassurance about their decision to join.
But what information is helpful to a new member? The membership chair or committee should welcome new members; either personally by giving them a phone call or sending them a welcoming letter. New members should also be recognized by name at your Chapter events during the President’s welcoming comments.

 
It is highly recommended to have a membership package, that can be personalized and sent to each newly signed up member. Although many associations have adapted to sending most communication electronically, sending a paper copy of the welcoming package via mail is recommended. It looks professional and will likely be appreciated by your members!

 
Membership packages should include the following
1. Personalized Welcome Letter – written and signed by the Chapter’s President and Membership Chair
2. Log In Information for the association’s website (if applicable) – this should include information on how to set up, personalize and change their online profile, how to pay their member dues, how to register for events online, how to connect with other members through the member portal and how to generally take advantage of other sections your website might have (e.g. news sections, discussion forums, picture gallery, event archives, etc)
3. A clear outline of Membership Requirements – for example information on when to renew their membership, on how to earn continuing education credits or other association participation standards that are required in order to maintain their membership.
4. Legal Documents – such as the Society Act or any other codes of conduct, standards of practice or insurance requirements that may apply to your association and that new members should be informed of.
5. Member Benefits Package – It is important that new members are fully aware of all of the benefits associated with their membership. This may include member discounts to events, invitations to members-only events, access to special seminars, specific online or printed publications, mentorship programs, etc.
6. Information on the Association’s History – although the new member has probably done a bit of research before joining the association, it is recommended to provide something about the association’s background and history in writing. This could be a small pamphlet or flyer for example. It is always good to outline and emphasize the association’s vision and goals.
7. Information about WHERE TO GET HELP! It is important for your members to know who they can contact if they have any questions, concerns or problems (for example registering for an event, or cancelling an event registration, etc). Make sure your administrator and support staff’s contact information is clearly displayed!
It is also recommended to list your association’s Board of Directors. Outline their responsibilities and include their email-addresses and/or phone numbers, so members can contact them for more specific questions.

The Benefits of an Association Managment Company (AMC)

The Association Management business has been around for more than 120 years in North America and it is still growing rapidly. Particularly in Canada, Association Management Companies (AMC) have become more and more popular over the last few years. Why?

1 – Affordability: Staff, office space, current technology and a variety of professional services are shared amongst all clients of an AMC: the AMC is able to customize a service plan for each client’s individual need and is therefore able to charge the client on a fee-for-service basis. All resources are available (for instance a membership specialist, graphic designer or an accountant), but if the client does not need and use a particular service, they will not have to pay for it. Especially smaller organizations benefit from hiring an AMC over an in-house-administrator, as they often do not have the funds to afford an office and full time staff.

2 – Payment Plans: Dependent on how involved the AMC is in the client’s daily affairs, they usually offer their clients different ways to pay for their services: Monthly retainers (often used if the AMC acts as the client’s Executive Director or Administrator and takes care of all aspects of their business), hourly fee plans (often used when the AMC only looks after certain areas of the client’s administration) or flat fee plans (usually used when the AMC is hired for a short term project). The client decides what payment plan works best for them.

3 – Availability: During the week, an AMC offers regular full time office hours to its clients. It does not matter if the client is paying for full time or part time services: there is always someone available to answer to the clients’ membership, directors and volunteers.

4 – Professionalism: Through an AMC, the clients gains access to expert specialized staff in all areas of association management. An in-house administrator is seldom a professional in member recruitment, event management, financial planning, marketing etc. all at the same time. An AMC, on the other hand, has full or part time staff and contractors with all these specific skills. It is able to leverage resources and its customers reap the benefits.

5 – Staying Current: AMC’s are committed to staying up to date on current technology and digital media trends. They adapt their soft – and hardware systems and programs as trends change.  Their clients will benefit from new products, procedures and approaches without breaking their organization’s bank.

6 – Piece Of Mind: Hiring an AMC allows the directors and committee members of an organization to focus on its strategic goals, rather than spending their valuable time on day-to-day administrative matters. Employees of an AMC are fully trained association industry experts with years of experience in association governance, which allows them to provide excellent leadership to their clients.
With the help of an AMC, the Board of Directors can focus on the organization’s core issues: its purpose, goals and mission.

By Patricia Tait, Account ManagerIMG_0740

How To Engage Your Association Members

The success of an association is based on the strength and satisfaction of its membership. What does your organization have to offer to its members and supporters? Educational and social networking events? A monthly newsletter? Great – but that’s likely not enough to keep your followers engaged. Time to think outside of the box and get creative. Here are a few tips on how to engage your association members better:

1 – Create a Blog: Every successful business has a blog to promote their industry events and discuss the latest industry news. So should your association: a regularly updated blog allows your members and followers to give their opinions and start a discussion with their industry colleagues. Whereas a newsletter only reaches the people in your database, a blog allows you to reach a broader audience. Another benefit: If people find your blog valuable, they can share it to their social media network. And by doing that, they help you increase your followers.

Can’t keep up with the posts? Invite your association’s members, sponsors or other industry partners to write guest blog posts. They will be happy to help if that gives them the chance to showcase themselves or the company they work for. Who does not like some free advertising?

2 – Showcase your members: Feature a “member of the month” on either your website or blog. Allow your members to submit nominations by highlighting outstanding achievements or exceptional contributions within your industry.

3 – Use Webinars & Videos: Engage your members by offering free weekly or monthly webinars. Ask your sponsors and other volunteers to come up with content that is relevant to the membership. Again, it gives industry experts the chance to showcase themselves through your channel.
Do your members need to collect CE credits? Participating in those webinars can be an alternative to visiting your annual conference or continuing education events.
Did you have a great guest speaker providing expert insight at your last event? Video or audio tape his presentation and make it available exclusively to your members in your members-only online portal.

4 – Start discussions on your Social media channels: Use your Twitter and Facebook accounts to spread valuable industry news, but also to get people talking: Ask a simple question, or post an article to trigger a discussion within your audience. Show them that their input and opinion is important to you.

5 – Get personal: This is probably the hardest, but yet the most effective way of engaging your members: pick up the phone and connect with people!
There are a number of reasons to connect on a personal level with your membership or partners: a personal invite to an upcoming event, to congratulate on a member’s work or membership anniversary, to express gratitude and to thank a supporter for their recent sponsorship or donation, a reminder about an upcoming membership renewal, a personal call to someone who has not been to an event in a while or who has not renewed their membership. Making a personal connection is a great way of expressing that you care about your members and partners. And that can make all the difference.

By Patricia Tait, Account Manager

member_engagement

How To Recruit New Board Members

With the new year approaching, many non-for-profit organizations are facing their Annual General Meeting and with that, changes to their Board of Directors. A strong board is the basis of every organization’s impact and success in the community. Having the right people with a variety of skills on board, will help your organization achieve its strategic goals.

These simple steps will help you form and maintain a strong and successful Board of Directors:

1 – Evaluate your current board: Recruiting new board members begins with assessing current board members’ skills and contributions: Are the current board members fulfilling their commitments?
Who will be leaving the board at the end if this term and which skills, experiences and qualities will then be missing?

2 – Evaluate your current situation: What challenges does your organization face and what qualities in a new board member could help the organization execute its short and long-term goals? For example, if the organization is struggling with its finances, you will want to look for someone with a strong financial background.

3 – Form a Board Nominating or Board Development Committee: Evaluating the current board and recruiting new board members should be a year-round process. It is recommended to form a small committee exclusively responsible for board development and future recruitment. It allows the Board of Directors to focus on their actual tasks, while this specific committee continuously focuses on the board’s performance and upcoming vacancies. The Nominating Committee may be a small mix of board chairs and members of the organization. Often, past board chairs sit on nominating committees, as they have a strong understanding of the organization. (You may consult with your staff members or your Executive Director about potential recruitment, if applicable, but do not involve them formally in the nomination process).

4 – Keep your members involved and in mind: Taking the position of a chair on the board is often a result of a long-term commitment in other areas of the organization. For example, look who has been sitting on sub-committees for years, helping to plan certain events, annual conferences or who is leading the organization’s Young Professional Group.

5 – Use a ‘Board Application Form’: Once you have potential candidates, have them fill out a simple Board Application Form. Ask them about relevant (work) experience, their qualities and skills and what they think they can contribute to the organization. Ask why they are interested in joining the board and if they are involved with other groups or in the community (also to avoid a conflict of interest with other organizations). General qualities like integrity, a certain time commitment, the ability to work within a team and the interest in your organization’s mission and goals should be a given.

6 – Invite the perfect candidates: Let the prospect candidate(s) participate in one of your board meetings. Introduce them to your directors, and let them be part of the rest of the board meeting. It will give them the chance to envision themselves on the board and get a feel for the group they would be part of.

7 – Help with the transition: Once a new director has joined the board, make sure that the previous chair sets aside some time to ‘train’ or lead the incoming director into their new role. Provide them with any materials that might be relevant to their new role on the board and offer continued support until their integration into the group and their new role is complete.

By Patricia Tait

How To Save Money For Your Not-For-Profit Association

Running an association economically is the key for succeeding as a not-for-profit. Here are 6 simple steps, that will help you reach your financial goals:

1. Utilize your board of directors to their fullest extent
Make sure to keep all directors involved in helping to raise money for the organization. Ask them to spread the word amongst their own contacts to bring new sponsors on board, find businesses to partner up with and recruit new members for your not-for-profit.

2. Keep your administration cost low
Choose an AMC (association management company) over an individual to run your organization on a fee-for-service basis. AMC’s offer a variety of services, and are able to customize their services to meet each of their clients’ needs.
ACM’s provide staff, software programs and tools to run not-for-profit organizations. They keep your administration cost low by using the same resources for multiple clients.

3. Use low-cost marketing and public-relations techniques
Promote your association’s events in free local newspapers providing relevant business information. Add your event to their online event calendar. Find local ad agencies to see if they will create public service announcements for not-for-profits, at low or no cost.

4. Save on meeting expenses
Hold your board meetings at the directors’ or your AMC’s offices. Each director who has a boardroom could take turns hosting and providing light refreshments. Schedule the meeting mid morning or mid afternoon to avoid extra expenses for lunches.
Hold committee meetings via conference calls – not only does it save you on rental, catering or travel coast, it also saves time for the the participant.

5. Save on event costs                                                                                                                       Choose the same venue for regularly reoccurring events of your association. You should be able to negotiate more reasonable rates by booking your events at the same location. It is a win-win situation: your association saves money and the venue is guaranteed regular business.

6. Stay informed about local corporations
Read newspapers for information about local corporations and businesses who might be a good fit for corporate donations or in-kind sponsorships and contributions.

By Patricia Tait, Account Manager at Spets Association Management

What is an Association Management Company or AMC?

By Aila Karpio, President & Founder of Spets

Association management companies have been around for a long time. However, they may not all be AMCs, but for instance administrative support or service providers. Or they may use a generic name like “Joe Smith & Associates” or “the Smith Group”. Many meeting and conference management companies also offer association management services to their clients. And there are many freelance administrators who started by working part-time for one not-for-profit, gradually added more clients and grew to an association management company.

An association management company (AMC) is not a B2B firm but a professional service company that specializes in providing management services to associations and other not-for-profits on a fee-for-service basis. An AMC can be a full-service organization supporting a board of directors in running their not-for-profit and implementing their strategic plan. It can also be an organization that offers various support services in a customized program, depending on the society’s needs.

Why choose an association management company over an in-house administrator?

Both take care of the day-to-day activities of a not-for-profit organization while allowing the directors and committee members the ability to focus on strategic goals and core issues. Typically though, an AMC manages several associations from one company location, providing a wide range of benefits, including shared technology systems and purchasing power. An in-house administrator is seldom so knowledgeable that he or she excels in member recruitment, event management, financial planning, marketing etc. An AMC, on the other hand, has staff and contractors with all these specific skills. It is able to leverage resources and its customers reap the benefits.

The goal of an association management company is to take the burden off the volunteer board and committee members and free more time for them to concentrate on the reasons why the society exists in the first place.