An Executive Director's point of view

Category: Fund-raising
Posted by: David M Patt
Foundations don't make donations. They make investments.

And they expect a return on those investments. The return is the organizations' success.

They'll view groups' staffing, governance, financial administration, program management, and internal structure to determine if it has the means to succeed.

Then they'll decide if the groups' goals fit into the foundation's strategic plan.

So, when pitching a proposal to a foundation, don't ask for help, plead for support, or try to convince it of the importance of your group or cause.

Instead, talk about how you've identified a problem (which, coincidentally, will be the same problem identified by the foundation), how you intend to deploy resources to tackle it, and how you expect to resolve it.

Demonstrate how a grant to your organization will be a wise investment.

March 24, 2015: Multiple designs

Category: Marketing
Posted by: David M Patt
When developing promotional materials for association activities, design something different for each venue. Don't try to save money or time by using the same layout for everything. It won't look good and people will be less likely to respond to it.

Web pages, mobile device displays, email, printed flyers, postcards, magazine ads, posters, and lawn signs (if you host a public event), should all utilize separate designs that are constructed for maximum effectiveness in each of those settings.

Written copy, amount of copy, choice of colors, fonts and font sizes, images, design embellishments, etc. should differ depending where they are used.

The money spent for multiple designs will be far less than the money lost if members and customers have difficulty viewing and acting on promotional prompts that are not suitable for the settings in which they appear.
Posted by: David M Patt
Age does not always determine how people access information.

For many (of all ages), what you are reading is often more important than how you are reading it.

March 18, 2015: Member engagement

Category: Membership
Posted by: David M Patt
Let members decide for themselves how to connect with the association. They may not do it the way you want them to.

March 17, 2015: Work is not a place

Posted by: David M Patt
"Work is something you do, not a place you go to," proclaimed Sherry Marts, in a vibrant thread on ASAE's Collaborate.

Too many associations and businesses, though, focus on where and when employees do their work.

Instead, they should focus on the results of that work. That's what matters.

March 11, 2015: Don't stalk prospects

Category: Marketing
Posted by: David M Patt
I viewed some kitchen chairs on a retailer's web site and for weeks afterward received pop-up ads for them.

That was creepy. It was as if a salesperson had watched me while I looked at the chairs in a store, followed me home, and repeatedly slid promotional flyers under my door to induce me to buy those chairs.

You are not helping customers or members by seeding their internet views with products or information you think they will like. You are just letting them know that you are spying on them.
Category: Meetings
Posted by: David M Patt
When selecting menu items for meeting attendees, ALWAYS provide an option for vegetarians.

It should be something with no meat or fish and it should include protein - like cheese or beans.

Don't just serve people a bunch of side vegetables or fruit. Give them a vegetarian meal.

March 03, 2015: The only one in the room

Category: Culture
Posted by: David M Patt
Many associations strive for diversity of race, gender, age, religion, or sexual orientation on their Boards of Directors. But despite their best efforts, they don't always succeed.

Here are some reasons:

1. People don't always want to be the only one of their group in the room. Having one person of color, or one woman, or one young person, or one non-Christian, or one gay man or lesbian, does not create diversity. It creates tokenism and fails to provide the "diverse" member of the group with the same supporting community the majority enjoys. And that "diverse" member may often be outvoted.

2. People don't always feel comfortable in a group when they know their only reason for being there is their demographic difference from the others.

3. People don't want to be pigeon-holed and expected to explain what "those" people believe. They want to be treated like everybody else.

4. One person does not represent an entire population segment. One person cannot, and may not want to, speak for everybody of their race, gender, age, religion, or sexual preference. And their views are not always reflective of those groups.

Diversity should be something that happens naturally, not something that is forced. If everybody on an organization Board hails from the same cultural group, there may be a problem with the selection process. The association should fix that, not just shove different kinds of people into leadership and then claim to have achieved diversity.

Board diversity is not just about displaying a "diverse" demographic head count. It's about creating a decision-making process that routinely includes people with different backgrounds and different perspectives, allowing the association to make better, and more effective, decisions.

February 27, 2015: Understand your members

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
You don't have to be an expert in your members' business.

But you do have to understand what your members want, why they want it, and how they can be successful at it.

So be an expert in your business - management, marketing, meeting planning, editing, etc. - and use your expertise to help your members succeed in their business.

February 24, 2015: Direct mail benefits

Category: Marketing
Posted by: David M Patt
These are some of the things that make direct mail an effective marketing tool for your association.

Plus, direct mail often drives people to your web site. Watch for spikes in unique visitors after you've mailed.

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