An Executive Director's point of view

 

February 07, 2016: Fiscal year

If your association receives a majority of its income at a certain time of year, it would be a good idea to start your fiscal year at that time.

You'll know your financial situation at an early date and will be able to make adjustments, if necessary, during the rest of the year.

You won't have to wait for your trade show, conference, membership renewal, or whatever else may happen later. You'll be able to plan with real numbers, not expectations.

A fiscal year can start in any month. It does not have to be a calendar year or any other commonly used time period.

So, unless you feel a need for your fiscal year to coincide with that of another entity, start it when it gives you the greatest planning advantage.

February 05, 2016: Ditching the expo

Posted by: David M Patt
Is this a unique action by one exhibitor, or is it the beginning of a trend?

February 03, 2016: Out of sight, out of mind

Category: Business practices
Posted by: David M Patt
When notifying workers about matters that impact everybody's jobs, don't forget to tell the people who are not in the office every day.

Be sure to communicate with remote employees, traveling employees, part-time employees, independent contractors, and maybe some vendors or consultants, too.

Password changes, office closings, reimbursement processes, technology repair, travel policies, and myriad association matters need to be communicated to a whole lot of people.

Be sure to remember them all.

January 28, 2016: The politics of celebrity

As your association attempts to navigate the political waters of presidential politics and figure out how best to deal with a future chief executive, keep in mind that the political customs of yesterday are not the customs of today.

Donald Trump, for example, is a celebrity, not a politician. He is not an outsider - not at all. And many candidates before him, both successful and unsuccessful, have attempted to exploit the anger of voters, just as he is doing.

But his public persona took shape in a world of media, entertainment, and business notoriety, not in the world of politics.

So when he utters comments that are idiotic, offensive, misleading, or even untrue, he is viewed as a celebrity, not as a politician, and escapes unscathed from situations that might topple other presidential aspirants.

The tactics you may have used in the past to advocate for, or relate to, candidates, are going to be very different this time around.

January 26, 2016: Snow

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
This was my plan during Chicago's last big blizzard.

And when you clear the snow away, be sure to allow access for disabled people.

January 22, 2016: Smart tech

Category: Technology
Posted by: David M Patt
You don't have to know how to write code to be technologically literate. But you should know how various programs and gadgets can help you, even if you decide not to use them.

Don't avoid this stuff because of the silly things you observe other people doing. The tech is fine. The users aren't.

I don't need to know that a person baked a dozen cookies today, or that he is playing Angry Birds right now, or that she is thinking of going for a swim in the hotel where she just checked in.

I really don't need to see a picture of what somebody is cooking for dinner, or view a colleague sitting at a desk, staring at a computer (and not at me) while delivering a webinar, or access my work files while attending a wedding.

And there is absolutely no need for me to check my email while waiting for the car in front of me to back into a parking space.

But I do need to know that my flight was canceled, or that a meeting location was changed, or that I have to respond to a family emergency.

It may be helpful for me to view a picture of a sign, brochure, or food product so I can do a better job at whatever I'm doing at the moment, or look you in the eye while conversing from a far-off city, or retrieve a file while attending an educational conference.

So, learn as much as possible about what technology can do for you. Then decide if you want to use any of it.

January 15, 2016: Big bucks

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
I hope the three Powerball winners give a huge chunk of their dough to not-for-profits.

And that they give it in a strategic way.

They should identify a small number of issues they want to impact and then determine the best ways to do that. They can give money to existing organizations or they can create new ones.

550 million dollars sounds like a lot of money (because it is a lot of money). But it will only make a tiny dent, if that much, in the problems of the world.

It would be best if those folks viewed themselves as investors, not as contributors, and gave money to generate results, not merely to support "worthy" causes or their favorite organizations.

January 06, 2016: Punctuation

Category: Communications
Posted by: David M Patt
A new study claims that people who end texts with a period are viewed as less sincere.

That is really silly.

A text with no punctuation at the end looks unfinished. Was it prematurely sent? Did part of it get cut off? It's like stopping in mid-sentence while speaking.

Punctuation usage is not about being prim and proper. It's just common sense.

A period at the end of a reply indicates the thought is complete.

Absence of a period at the end of a sentence is just careless and lazy.

And it's unfortunate that so many people will tolerate that, just as they do misspelled words, missing words, gross grammatical errors, and replies that obviously hadn't been proofread, because they often mean the opposite of what the sender apparently meant to say.

So, I will continue using punctuation. Period.

December 31, 2015: Advice in 2015

Revisit your organization's purpose every so often. Set realistic goals and don't simply do what everybody else is doing.

Keep in mind that work is something you do, not a place you go to.

When making organizational changes that affect members, make the changes they want, not the ones you want them to want (or expect them to obediently accept).

Don't brag about your successes. Instead, announce new or expanded activities that will exist as a result of those successes.

Intercede to resolve staff conflicts. They won't get resolved by themselves.

Avoid the contrived diversity trap. Stifle Board and staff self-promotion. And don't accept gifts.

Know when to offer specific (very specific) instructions.

Be pragmatic when building coalitions.

Jumpstart your social media efforts - they don't always start on their own.

When fund-raising, don't always ask individuals for money. And realize that foundations make investments, not contributions.

Implement sensible (and humane) hiring practices.

And remember the realities of sponsorship, how to treat disabled attendees, and planning for vegetarians. (Visit earlier posts on these subjects, too).

Check out highlights from previous years and also grab a slew of practical management tips.

December 29, 2015: AMS problem

Category: Technology
Posted by: David M Patt
A financially secure association is about to switch to its third association management system (AMS) in six years.

Its current system is rife with glitches that defy repair. Among those is an inability to correctly record credit card payments.

When shopping for an AMS that fits your needs, be sure to contract with an experienced organization to identify the best system. Don't search on your own.

And your goal should not be to find a program that can link various applications in your association. That is a solution, not a goal.

Your goal should be to enable various applications in your association to operative effectively. An AMS may - or may not - be the best solution.
 
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