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Best Practices for Virtual Event Experience Design

Beth Surmont, CAE, CMP, Director of Experience Design, 360 Live Mediaa wholly-owned subsidiary of SmithBucklin

It is a stressful time to be working on events right now. We hope this article makes your life a little bit easier.

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COVID-19 – A Time for Refresher on Basic Board Member Duties

Bennett Napier, CAE, President/CEO, Partners in Association Management

2020 as we all know has been a “test” for not-for-profit organizations. The short and long-term impacts of COVID-19 on traditional revenue streams, membership needs, and program delivery have created some interesting dynamics relative to board staff/roles.

I have heard countless stories this year from peers that serve as CEO of a number of associations where volunteer board members, while well-intentioned, have placed themselves and potentially the organization in harm’s way, for example, having unauthorized ex parte communications directly with hotels related to contract negotiations on meeting cancellations or postponements.

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Financial Sustainability in Troubled Times

Kelly Meiners, Director of Accounting, Diversified Management Services

When thinking about financial sustainability, who would have ever envisioned the economic environment that we have endured in 2020? Who would have planned for a pandemic and the economic conditions associated with it? But it has happened, now what do we do?

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Can Working with an AMC help You Save Money?

There are three common ways that associations are managed.  Some are managed by volunteers.  This is most common in small, start-up associations and usually gives way to non-volunteer management as the association grows.  Many associations are managed by full-time staff employed directly by the association.  Perhaps the most common of all forms of management, there are thousands of associations employing their own staff.  The third method of management is for the association to contract with an association management company (an AMC).  I should mention that there are hybrid models that mix elements of these three, but these three approaches are the most common.

For an association to be managed and managed well by volunteers requires an unusual set of circumstances to come together.  First, the association has to be small enough that the required amount of work can be handled by volunteers.  Second, there has to be available a number of people who have an abiding commitment to the association and who have the talent necessary to do the work required.  Usually, there is one key person with a passion for the organization who drives the volunteer effort.  Since the financial considerations around management is the thrust of this article I will say right up front that as long as you can get volunteers to manage your association and as long as they do a good job, if you want the cheapest management alternative you can’t beat free!  However and as I alluded to earlier, volunteer management is usually not a permanent solution for a growing, successful association.

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Furthering Your Clients' Mission

PMG works closely with an association’s leadership to understand the needs of the professionals they serve to provide value-added benefits for their members or, in this case, board-certified pediatric dentists.

Managed by PMG since January 2016, the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry (ABPD) values a health professional’s commitment to lifelong learning and has developed a Renewal of Certification program to continuously validate each Diplomate’s knowledge, skills, and experience for delivering quality patient outcomes. For years ABPD awarded CE credits for successful completion of components within their annual renewal. However, this was without any formal CE accreditation recognition.

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Virtually Painless – Tips and Tricks for Speakers in the Virtual Conference Environment

Elizabeth Maynard, Executive Director, McKenna Management, Inc

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many associations are turning to virtual meetings and conferences to continue their professional education and member networking programs. We are all discovering that there are plenty of opportunities for connecting with attendees online and, while this channel looks and feels different than in-person engagement, we’d like to share with you some easy preparations that can ensure success.

Lights, Camera, Action! or Location, Set Up, and Backdrop

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The Show Must Go On

Michaela Sawicki, MSc, Program Coordinator, McKenna Management, Inc.

For the coming months, it seems that event planners will continue to be saddled with the task of transitioning in-person events to virtual or hybrid options. Although virtual events are not entirely new, the busy Fall Season might be the first time many associations experiment with online alternatives. Some events can be held using robust virtual meeting platforms. Others can utilize more creative approaches to holding a virtual “event”. For the New England Society for Healthcare Communications (NESHCo) this year was the first time their awards ceremony was “hosted” via their social media platforms instead of in-person.

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Thinking Outside the Box Creative Society Outreach Projects

At PMG, excellence is our minimum standard.  We want to get better every year and make our clients better, so innovation is a specific goal for all our staff.  We ask each staff member for at least one example of an innovative new idea, or program, or service, or a new and better way of doing our work that they have implemented, as a part of their performance evaluation each year.  I am consistently amazed not just by the innovation of our staff, but also of the organizations we manage.

One area I think is unique about PMG and its management of societies, is that we encourage our boards in strategic planning to think outside the norm for ways to grow the society and make an impact in their field.  We challenge them to think about opportunities for new growth in revenue streams that can help them in achieving their mission as well as opportunities for public outreach and education.  Below are a few stellar examples.

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Success Through Member Recruitment

Andrew Cronin Finn, MSc, MBA, CAE, Executive Director, McKenna Management, Inc.

Membership recruitment is the key to building a truly sustainable membership base for your association. That was a key takeaway from one of the many educational sessions at the American Society of Association Executives’ 2020 Annual Meeting, held virtually in August.

Several members of the McKenna Management team participated in the virtual meeting, with the goal of learning new strategies to help our association clients remain successful during this challenging time.

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A Quick Pivot Leads to Learning and Success

Kelly Braniff, Project Manager, Parthenon Management

As a non-profit executive for more than twenty years, I joined the Parthenon Management Group (PMG) team having coordinated almost every type of event. I have planned and executed festivals, galas, golf tournaments, walkathons, dinners, fashion shows, auctions, product sales, fireside chats, recruitment weekends, and reunions. So when the COVID-19 global health crisis caused travel bans and a State of Emergency that threatened the future of my association’s revenue-producing scientific conference, I enthusiastically said, “A virtual conference will be exciting, and I am ready to tackle a new professional challenge.”

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Is There an AMC Behind That $5 Million Association?

Jonathan Lurie, Vice President of Corporate Marketing at Smith Bucklin & Associates, Inc.

Picture this. A successful association with an operating budget of $5 million known as “the” source for industry knowledge with a board of directors that is strategically focused. The organization is humming on leading-edge technology, providing for efficient operations and supporting a solid financial foundation.

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Performing Due Diligence: How an Association Board of Directors Should Evaluate its Association Management Company

By Mike Dwyer, CAE, Association Headquarters & Paul Hanscom, CAE, Ewald Consulting

It’s not uncommon that an association board of directors will decide to take a harder look at its relationship with its association management company partner after a significant change has occurred. This could be a change in staff leadership, management fee adjustment, or shift in the scope of service. Some associations have governing documents that stipulate that a level of review is required on a given time cycle, e.g. every three years. And occasionally a particularly fastidious board member will ask when the board last performed such a review, claiming that it’s the board’s fiduciary duty to perform its “due diligence” to ensure the resources invested by the association in the services provided by its AMC are well spent.

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Welcome to our blog. AMCI is proud to cultivate ideas, innovations, and solutions from leading global thinkers from within our industry as well as those outside making a notable difference in association, corporate, and business strategies. We strongly encourage those with a passion for helping not-for-profits sustain, succeed, and prosper, and great ideas to help achieve them to submit your post for consideration here.