Do Skills Trump Passion?

In the December issue of Associations Now, published by ASAE, there is a book review about a new book entitled, “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” by Cal Newport. The reviewer talks about the author’s idea that one should first build skills and then passion for your work will follow. It occurs to me that people who work for association management companies have acquired a set of highly developed skills – working with nonprofit organizations in all aspects of their management – and therefore also bring a great deal of passion to their work. The reviewer points out that only 45 percent of American workers are satisfied with their jobs. I would venture to say that the job satisfaction level in an association management company would come close to doubling that figure. Working in an AMC environment provides variety, intellectual challenge and the opportunity to make things happen. These traits alone would/should provide for job satisfaction.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Article About Risk Management

Just read a great article in the December 12, 2011 issue of Fortune magazine. The title of the article is “Is your Board Ready To Put Out The Next Fire?” While it is written specifically relating to corporate boards, the advice can certainly apply to non-profit boards as well.

The author, Faye Wattleton, starts out by asking what the chances are of a catastrophic earthquake striking Japan and crippling supply chains, or a volcanic-ash cloud covering much of northern Europe and disrupting air travel, or the failure of a major financial institution pushing the entire global financial system to the brink. “Until recently,” she states, “such scenarios would have been considered too far-fetched to warrant much attention…” However, she goes on to indicate that boards need to plan for risk the same way that they would plan for any other event.

“Typically boards have defined risks as strategic, operational, financial and compliance. That universe need to be widened to include intangible assets, such as a company’s [association’s] reputation, or unpredictable vulnerabilities…”

The article goes on to say that risk management is essential to every board and the entire board needs to be a part of it.

Definitely a must read for board members od any organization. E-mail me if you would like a copy: sheila@totmgtsol.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Article about IRS, 990 and Compliance

The following link leads to an interesting article about Form 990 and the Compliance Questions that the IRS asks. Good advice.
http://www.guidestar.org/rxa/news/articles/2012/insights-from-irs-on-nonprofits.aspx?hq_e=el&hq_m=1615726&hq_1=22&hq_v=19c3f226f9

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The AMC Model

Colleagues of mine, and myself as well, are often asked what our companies do. Shortening the description to a one or two sentence definition (the “elevator pitch”) is often difficult. Hoeever, the AMC Institute has just published some new materials that are very helpful:

     “Association management companies (AMC’s) lead organizations to greater growth and prosperity.At the heart of AMCs are passionate and attentive professionals who champion cultural values and strategic objectives. They deliver unpatalled leadership acumen,accountability and support to produce tangible value for an organization. Whethet you are seeking a full management solution or outsourced support for individual capabilitites, you can rely on an AMC to increase your importance and relevance to members.”

In other words, AMCs are a cost-effective way of managing an association. They are led by passionate, knowledgeable people whose aims are to assist an organization in reaching its strategic goals. An AMC, by virtue of the fact that it can utilize expertise and knowledge across organizational boundaries, can help associations learn from one another and grow within their own sphere. What is good for one of my clients may also be good for another of my clients.

If you would liek to learn more about AMCs, contact the AMC Institute at amci@fernley.com or look at Total Management Solution’s website at www.totmgtsol.com

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

AMC Managed Organizations

Just read an interesting report done by Michael LoBue, CAE, President of LoBue and Majdalany Management Group. The report, entitled “AMCs Manage Client Bottom Lines Through the Recession,” compared 104 stand-alone organizations to 110 organizations managed by Association Management Companies. The findings, while not a revelation to me, may be new to others:

1. AMC managed organizations returned to pre-recession performance in 2010 – 3 out of 4 AMC-managed organizations reported operating surpluses in 2010

2. Standalone organizations were still suffering their third hard year in 2010 – one out of two organizations reported operating losses that year

3. AMCs were more skilled at aligning expenses with available monies than standalone organizations – in fact, a rise in expenses in 2008 caused the problem for standalone organizations, not a loss in revenue.

The above is yet another indication of the value to non-profit organizations of Association Management Companies.

Please let me know if you have any comments.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Non-Dues Income

A recent article in Associations Now magazine indicates that associations are relying less and less on member dues and more and more on non-dues income for their financing. According to the article, the median proportion of revenues coming from dues is only 31% (in organizations whose dues are $200 or more). Given the fact that membership in some organizations is declining and that members usually will not tolerate a dues increase in this economy, non-dues revenue programs seem to be the way to go.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Article About Risk Management

Just read a great article in the December 12, 2011 issue of Fortune magazine. The title of the article is “Is your Board Ready To Put Out The Next Fire?” While it is written specifically relating to corporate boards, the advice can certainly apply to non-profit boards as well.

The author, Faye Wattleton, starts out by asking what the chances are of a catastrophic earthquake striking Japan and crippling supply chains, or a volcanic-ash cloud covering much of northern Europe and disrupting air travel, or the failure of a major financial institution pushing the entire global financial system to the brink. “Until recently,” she states, “such scenarios would have been considered too far-fetched to warrant much attention…” However, she goes on to indicate that boards need to plan for risk the same way that they would plan for any other event.

“Typically boards have defined risks as strategic, operational, financial and compliance. That universe need to be widened to include intangible assets, such as a company’s [association’s] reputation, or unpredictable vulnerabilities…”

The article goes on to say that risk management is essential to every board and the entire board needs to be a part of it.

Definitely a must read for board members od any organization. E-mail me if you would like a copy: sheila@totmgtsol.com

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Board Governance

Has your Board of Directors been paying attetion to the new IRS Form 990? The questions on the new form should lead Board to better governance and to more transparency.The IRS asks if the organization has a Conflict of Interest Policy. It also asks if the organization has a Document Retention Policy. And, most importantly, an up-to-date set of By Laws.

The Conflict of Interest Policy should insist that anyone sitting on a Board of Directors reveal any conflicts that they may have in voting on issues that come before the Board. Do they do business with  a vendor that may make a proposal to the organization? Are they related to anyone doing business with the organization? The policy should be distributed to each Board member at the beginning of each organizational year and a disc losure form should be signed by each Board member each year.

The Document Retention Policy should outline how long the organization will maintain the documents that it produces: financial records (must be kept at least seven years); meeting minutes (forever); correspondence; publications; membership applications; database records, etc. This policy should be created and then reviewed every year or so to determine whether it is still valid.

Anyone wanting a sample of either of these policies can e-mail me at sheila@totmgtsol.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Constitutions/By Laws and Officers

The Constitution/By-Laws of an organization should outline the duties that the association assigns to each of its officers. Some organizations may have as many as six or seven officers; some may have as few as three. All organizations should have at least a President (or Chairman, or Chief Elected Officer – CEO ), a Treasurer and a Secretary. Most organizations would add a President-Elect and two or three Vice-Presidents.

 The Constitution should also outline the method of election of these officers and their term of office. Some organizations may have the entire slate of officers elected at the same time. Some may have rotating elections. Some may have one year terms, some two. I would strongly recommend that no term of office should exceed two years, with the possibility of re-election for one additional term. Having the same person serving in the same office for more than four years creates a “fiefdom” that is hard to overcome.

 Some organizations have the entire membership elect their officers. Others provide for the membership to elect the Board of Directors and then the Board elects their officers. Either way is perfectly acceptable as long as the membership has approved of the method (usually done by adopting the Constitution/By Laws.)

 All of the above applies to membership organizations. What happens when there is a Foundation or other non-profit organization that has no members, just members of a Board of Directors or Board of Trustees? In those cases, the Board has the responsibility of electing its leaders, the number and titles of whom would be prescribed in the Constitution of the organ- ization.

 In future blogs, I will outline the duties of the elected officers.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Duties of Board Members

So, you’ve been asked to serve on a volunteer Board of Directors. What are your responsibilities?

The function of the Board of Directors is to lead the organization, set policy and approve major plans. The Board also has legal and fiscal responsibilities. The first thing that you should be doing is familiarize yourself with the constitution and by-laws of the organization. These documents spell out what the mission of the organization is and what the organization can and cannot do.  If your organization has a Strategic Plan, become familiar with that as well. Know what the goals are for the near future and the extended goals. Know what the objectives are and how you, and the work that you are doing for the organization, fits into that picture.

You are a representative of your fellow members. Even if you were elected as a Board member from a specific region or section of the organization, as a Board member you should be considering the needs of the membership at large.

It is important for you to:

– Be well informed

– Concentrate on priority issues

– Behave prudently in your role as a director

– Be constructive in your suggestions and criticism

– Work cooperatively with the organization’s staff, the chief elected officer and your fellow Board members.

– Familiarize yourself with Robert’s Rules of Order so that you can assist in keeping the Board meeting on track.

If this is your first experience as a Board member, you may feel as if you need to just sit and listen. In reality, you were elected because of you leadership, insight and judgement. Use it – speak up when you have an idea, opinion or suggestion. You owe it to your organization to be a contributor.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment