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

Strong Membership Base

A strong membership base is essential for the success of every member-based association. But how do you grow AND maintain it? 

Set targets – make time for membership issues on your monthly board meeting agendas. Review your membership reports on a monthly basis and set realistic targets. Implement action plans to reach your targets. Assign realistic tasks to the membership committee and review the results at your next board meeting. Repeat every month.

Communicate personally – No matter if you lose an old member or win a new one, make sure to connect with them on a personal level either to welcome them or to find out why they chose to leave the organization. Learning why people do not renew their memberships is useful information.

Promote your membership benefits – There is no need to join an organization, if there aren’t any relevant benefits. For example, offer discounted member rates at events, access to a ‘members-only portal’  where it is easy to connect with other members and access relevant industry information that is only available to active members.

Recognize your members – Feature members in your monthly newsletter, or have them write guest articles for it. Recognize recently joined members at events, mention membership anniversaries and any extraordinary professional achievements by your members.

Be relevant  – Make sure your events, seminars, workshops or conferences, are relevant to the field and unique. Focus on current and newsworthy topics and trends. Choose your guest speakers accordingly and brief them well.
Every now and then, put on special ‘members-only’ events. Advertise them to your entire database, to encourage people to join in order to attend those events.

Listen to your members’ needs – Send out a short survey right after an event or take the time to connect at the event: Find out how the event was received and what other programs and topics people would like to see in the future.

Offer membership deals – Who does not like to save a few dollars? Have membership drives every now and then: offer savings by providing a discount code, a two-for one deal, reduced rates for student memberships  or special deals on company/group memberships.

By Patricia Tait

Food and Beverage Trends

Healthy snack in office

A healthy snack during a meeting.

More and more people are affected by allergies, food intolerances and other dietary restrictions. This makes it challenging to satisfy everyone happy at your events and conferences. 

Industry experts suggest to keep the following points in mind when ordering food for your events and conferences:

1. Practicality – No matter what the trends are, the food you offer needs to be practical: easy to eat (for example when standing and networking at the same time) and easy to digest.

2. Comfort – Stay away from foods that make people feel tired or bloated. And avoid foods that leave behind a strong smell, or tend to get stuck in people’s teeth.

3 – Sustainability – Smaller portions reduce waste and make food service sustainable. One of the current trends is small bites, so guests can taste more items. Think of sliders, tapas, mezés etc.

4 – Special Requests – Be prepared for to fulfill special meal requests: vegetarian, gluten free,  paleolithic diet, – you name it. And don’t forget meals suitable for diabetics.

5 – Personal Touch – Live food stations allow you to serve the same meal to everyone and yet individuals can choose their own ingredients. Good examples are an omelette bar for breakfast and a stir fry bar for lunch.

6 –  Frequent Breaks –  Make sure to provide your attendees with enough fuel to stay focused during your meeting. Allow them to stretch their legs for a few minutes by scheduling frequent short snack breaks.

7 – Combine Innovation with Simplicity People always mention the quality of food when talking about events and conferences. Offer your guests something simple, yet innovative enough to be remembered.

8 – Beverage Trends – no matter what other beverages are served, don’t forget water! And remember, some like it cold but some like it hot.

By Aila Karpio


Ways To Save Money And The Environment In Your Office

1. Reach your members electronically
Whether it is your membership renewal package or a monthly newsletter, use email to send it out. You’ll be saving both paper and postage.

2. Use folders and bookmarks
Organize emails you wish to keep in folders, where you can find them. Bookmark articles and websites you want to remember and go back to.

3. Reuse
When clearing out your office or home, consider what could be reused. Empty and change titles of used binders, turn file folders inside out, use the other side of paper to write notes on, etc

4. Recycle
Recycle name badges from your events and store them alphabetically in index card boxes. For your next event, you only have to print the ones you don’t already have. The environment will thank you.

5. “Go Green” in your kitchen
A green workplace kitchen is equipped to save money and the environment. Use porcelain mugs and glasses, instead of paper or Styrofoam cups; tea towels instead of paper towel; under sink water filtering instead of bottled water.
Note: Make a habit of collecting cans and bottles. Bring them to a store or bottle depot and use the money to buy cookies for everyone! 🙂

6. Save energy
Think economically and environmentally at all times! Turn off heat, lights, computers, screens, printers and chargers when your office is unoccupied.

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

An Efficient Board Meeting Requires Preparation

It is important to prepare well for a board of directors’ meeting, so the meeting doesn’t drag on but is adjourned on time. You are more likely to have good attendance and enthusiastic directors, if they know that your meetings start and finish right on time and that all agenda items are covered.

Here are six steps to help you prepare for a meeting:
1. Establish a regular day and time when the board meetings are held. Once you have established a schedule, stick to it. Try to avoid Mondays, because of the statutory holidays that often fall on Mondays.
2. Send out an email reminder a week before each board meeting. Ask the directors if they have any items they would like to add to the agenda for discussion at the meeting. Collect committee reports at this time also. Give directors maximum two days to respond.
3. Follow up with the agenda five days prior to the meeting day. For example, if your board meeting is at 7 pm on the first Wednesday of every month, send out the agenda by early afternoon on the previous Friday. Include minutes of the previous board meeting and all committee reports, as well as possible other attachments. This way, directors will have enough time to go through all the agenda items and attachments in advance.
(Note: If your meeting minutes have action items, make sure that the minutes are sent out within a week of the board meeting and then again with the agenda of the next meeting.)
4. Make it a rule that, if at all possible, directors need to notify of their absence as soon as they receive the board meeting agenda.
5. The agenda should include at least the following items:
– Review of the minutes from the last meeting
– Acceptance of the agenda for the current meeting
– Approval of the financial report
– Items arising from the minutes or referred from previous meetings
– Committee reports
– New business
– Summary of the meeting
– Adjournment
6. It is each director’s responsibility to come prepared to the board meeting. Only items that are not clear from the minutes or committee reports should be discussed. It is possible to add “Other” or “Discussion” to the end, if the time allows and the directors stay on to chat at the end of the meeting. However, all other agenda items should have already been discussed and required motions made and recorded.

By Aila Karpio, CMM
President of 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.