November 2004 Association Management
Q: How does your association help members get involved?
Members who express a desire to pursue volunteer service usually have a specific area of interest. We attempt to match people to their passions, whether they are enthusiastic about government relations, membership, education, communication, or a charity affiliation. We will often ask the person to chair an ad hoc committee or serve on a standing committee. A volunteer who demonstrates a high level of initiative and leadership will frequently be encouraged to consider board service. Interestingly, we have found that inviting members to participate who have expressed negative attitudes about the association in the past often results in their becoming highly supportive members.
February 2004 Association Management
Q: What techniques and tools do you use to build community among members?
We are finding that building community among members is done the old-fashioned way: with face-to-face contact. Despite our efforts to drive communication through websites, newsletters, and broadcast email bulletins, our member still request dinner meetings, field visits, and roundtable discussions at conferences where they can simply talk to other members who share similar challenges. Many members explain that the idea sharing they reap from conference roundtables is the most valuable aspect of attending.
We ask board members to serve as ambassadors at association events, hosting new members or first-time participants. We know that for a member to take ownership of the association, he or she must feel welcome and part of the association's culture, something that can only be achieved by way of individual participation. The members who feel the strongest affinity to the associations we manage are invariably those who attend events, serve on the committees or boards, and have friends within the associations' industries.
August 2003 Association Management
Q: Do you monitor your staff's Web activity? If no, why not? If yes, why and how do you do so?
We do not currently monitor the Web activities of our staff. Virtually all of our employees are online during the workday, and several individuals regularly obtain information off the Web to perform their duties. Our policy has been to respect the privacy of each employee by using the honor system and trusting that no inappropriate activities are taking place. Tight monitoring and activity audits would create an atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion. Our staff is aware, however, that the discovery of visits to inappropriate sites or "social surfing" on company time would be met with a reprimand and possible restriction of Internet privileges.
February 2003 Association Management
Q: How do you evaluate members' satisfaction with your products and services, and what steps do you take when a product or service is no longer providing value?
We base the value of a product or service on the number of members using it and whether it represents a profit center for the association. When problems arise, we seek input from the board or appropriate committee to ascertain why the product or service is failing. If the problem is due to marketing or servicing shortfalls, we can often re-energize the product or service by addressing that specific area. When something has outlived its usefulness, usually the cause is external technological advances that affect pricing, features, convenience, or availability. If we are able to adapt to the new environment by evolving to keep the product or services viable, we will reinvest in its future.
November 2001 Association Management
Q: How do you handle a written personal attack on a supervisor from a disgruntled current or former employee?
First, I would meet with the disgruntled employee to discuss the issue that prompted the attack to ensure that I had a complete understanding of the situation. Next, I would meet with the supervisor alone, present the employee's argument, and listen to the supervisor's explanation. I would focus on a proactive solution to avoid future confrontations. If hurt feelings resulted from the attack, I would mediate a meeting between the two to resolve any lingering personal issues. I would encourage the employee to approach future relations from a business stand-point and focus on the work-related issues rather than initiating a personal attack.
September 2001 Association Management
Q: Do you currently invest association reserves in equities markets? What are the significant features of your reserve policy and what are some of the issues that have arisen with the volatility of the current market?
Our clients have all taken a very conservative approach to investing. All insist that no risk be undertaken that could reduce the asset value of our reserves. We use money market funds or certificates of deposit for 6-12 month terms. Interest earned off our investments is never earmarked for operating expenses. We have relationships with several banks and investment houses, so we are able to shop for the best available rates on a regular basis.