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Don’t Burn the Furniture, Please

by Dave Bergeson, PhD, CAE, Vice President of Client Relations, Association Management Center

It would be cliché and perhaps too obvious to say that for nonprofits and associations, this year is unlike any other. And yet, here we are. Most of our in-person conferences have been canceled. Many, if not most, of us, are implementing virtual meetings and conferences. Our traditional forms of content delivery and revenue streams have been disrupted.

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Charting an Uncertain Future Through Scenario Planning

Renate Kenter, Strategy Consultant, facilitator, and teacher with De Ruijter Strategy

Scenario planning is a strategic method of addressing uncertainty in the future. Long used by corporate boards and executives, its application in association management is gaining traction. By describing several scenarios for the future and then thinking about the implications, you create a more prepared and agile organization. 

Start with what’s possible
Thinkers are recognized for their ability ‘to see around corners’ anticipating rather than reacting. To prepare for what may come, you also need an eye on happening in the market - especially developments, events, and trends the association does not influence but is affected by. The advantage of this method is that members, staff, stakeholders, and even external thought leaders knowledge, expertise, and imagination are critical to the process. It employs a trend survey, where there are no bad ideas. It is open to the widest possible spectrum of subjects and captures not only facts, but ideas, opinions, and observations. These include demographic, economic, environmental, political, technological, and social developments. Subsequently, driving forces and uncertainties with regard to these developments can be identified. This provides the insight mapping to the outside world and leads to new, more-informed strategic questions.


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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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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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