An Executive Director's point of view

 

May 03, 2016: Read it again

Category: Communications
Posted by: David M Patt
A colleague recently posted a request on ASAE Collaborate asking for better ways to catch typographical errors.

Typos are far too common on email messages, and the same laxity that leads to those mistakes seems to be spilling over into communications that people feel are far more important.

The best solution is to slow down and read the copy again.

Here are some more tips.

April 29, 2016: No stereotyping

Posted by: David M Patt
Age is not always the most salient variable in organizational activities.

Younger people may want to interact with those their own age at social functions.

But they may prefer networking with older colleagues who can offer them jobs. And they may want to learn from older, more experienced professionals at educational conferences and in training programs.

Younger people may want to archive electronic publications for future reference.

But they may prefer reading hard copy the first time around.

It's important to be aware of the preferences of all market segments. Just don't make assumptions about them.

Ask them what they want. It won't always be what you think.

April 27, 2016: Exposed points

When placing writing utensils at registration tables or expo booths, use ball point pens with exposed points.

People are less likely to absent-mindedly walk off with an item that might leave a mark on their clothes, poke a hole in their pockets, or stab them when reaching into a briefcase or purse.

Category: Planning
Posted by: David M Patt
An organization President, while pitching a proposal to a Foundation, was asked if the group had a long-term strategic plan.

The President replied that the organization had been in operation for thirty-three years, that it knew what it was doing, and that it did not need a strategic plan.

The Foundation told the group not to submit any more proposals.

Another organization declared that it would not be bound by plans and budgets and that it would implement whatever programs it thought were necessary, whenever it thought that should be done.

EVERY organization should have a plan (whatever the plan is called) and a budget. It should determine its priorities and identify the resources that will be allocated to those priorities. And it should not make a habit of doing things that were neither planned nor budgeted.

Unfortunately, quite a few groups will continue to operate without a plan or budget. They may not even be deterred by running out of money.

April 22, 2016: Association advocacy

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is teaching its members how to become more effective advocates for the profession.

I hope their training includes a strong dose of reality and pragmatism.

For example, when testifying for or against a bill in a state legislative committee hearing, you should know the outcome of the committee vote before you even testify, because you should have already lobbied each individual on the committee. The hearing is merely your opportunity to state your views for the record and to score public relations points.

You should already have spoken with the Governor's office and with the department that will be responsible for dealing with the legislation, know where they stand on the bill, and adjust your advocacy strategy accordingly.

Often, the only legislators listening to your testimony will be your supporters, so they can advocate for your position, and your opponents, so they can shoot you down. Other committee members may be checking their email, returning phone calls, surfing the web on their smartphones, or even napping.

They'll cast votes in accordance with the views of their party or faction, or they may follow a colleague's recommendation. Your testimony will often have little, if any, impact on their votes.

So dump the civics lessons you were taught in school and adhere to the political culture of the legislative forum in which you are seeking a victory.
A recent study valued volunteer time as worth $23.56 per hour.

But don't list that as income or expense on your financial reports.

It will falsely inflate your perceived worth and give the impression your organization has financial resources that it doesn't really have.

Omitting this from your reports does not minimize the importance of volunteers.

It merely recognizes that volunteer time is not a substitute for money.

April 19, 2016: Dump the grace period

Category: Business practices
Posted by: David M Patt
Here are some very good reasons to eliminate the grace period for memberships.

You should do that for publications, too.

April 17, 2016: Stop cussin'

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
Some people swear a lot.

They may think it displays the intensity they experience on the job. That it shows how much they care.

They may even believe it is an effective way to call attention to the good and the bad things that happen in organizations.

But their outbursts usually disturb other people. In a big way.

People who swear appear to be angry, out of control, and acting unpredictably. They sound mean-spirited and likely to harm and humiliate others, even those on their team.

And they sound uneducated, as if their vocabulary was so limited they had no choice but to rely on the same adjectives to describe their emotions all of the time.

If you require a verbal release for your tension, teach yourself to say "rats," or "oh, man," or "darn," or something that is not as offensive and stinky-sounding as what you may have said before.

It's not about being more polite or acting like a prude.

It's about being an intelligent professional, not an ignorant maniac.

April 15, 2016: No bells and whistles

Category: Membership
Posted by: David M Patt
Gimmicks don't increase membership.

Value increases membership.

When soliciting memberships and renewals, don't cook up a bunch of "cool" things to trick people into joining your organization.

Just offer value.

April 11, 2016: Budget the extras

Your association should include employee severance pay, vacation day payouts, and any other departing employee expenses as liabilities on the organization's balance sheet.

Those are items the organization is obligated to pay, so they should be identified and provided for ahead of time, and not be treated as unexpected expenses when they come due.
 
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