An Executive Director's point of view
June 19, 2013: Interlude
But sometimes it's helpful to take a breather between some of those tasks. That can make it easier to tackle the next one.
So, when you've finished a big project, take a break and recharge before you resume working.
Walk around the block, loiter briefly at the water cooler, play a few minutes of computer solitaire, or do whatever helps clear your mind and get mentally ready for the next item on your to-do list.
Then get to it.
June 18, 2013: Sticking it to vendors
So they charge higher dues and higher event registration fees to vendors, suppliers, and consultants. Or they "ask" for contributions. They feel that anybody who wants to make money from the association had better be prepared to pay for that opportunity.
But many of these vendors, suppliers, and consultants earn less money than do association employees. And the money they earn from associations is payment for services and/or products they provide. So, why should they be assessed extra?
Public interest groups often shake down vendors, suppliers, and consultants because they believe those folks are profiting from the woes of disadvantaged people (and they often think "profit" is a dirty word).
Most associations, though, consist of employed professionals and business people who should know better. They shouldn't be soaking vendors, suppliers, and consultants just because they think those people are convenient targets.
June 17, 2013: Salary ranges
All applicants will expect to get paid at the high end of the range, regardless of their academic degrees, years of experience, or other criteria you may set.
And the person who is offered the job should get paid at the high end of the range. That person was your first choice and, presumably, the one you felt was most qualified.
When you create a huge salary range, you are either saying that you don't know what you are paying or that you are (unethically) trying to leave the door open to paying less.
Even if the salary range is determined by some other entity (like government), keep that information to yourself and offer a specific amount or a very narrow range.
And for an Executive Director or senior staff position, be prepared to negotiate a little bit.
June 16, 2013: No more technospeak
Would you hand somebody a document and say, "enclosed, as per your request, please find documents pertaining to the new project?"
It would be better to say, "here are the new project documents you asked about."
Remember, technospeak does not impress people. And industry lingo is gibberish - even to many people in the industry.
June 14, 2013: Employee vs. independent contractor
The relationship of the worker to the organization, neither the amount of time spent on the work nor the duration of the position, is the chief determinant of the worker's status.
Check here for more details.
June 13, 2013: Association salary data is bad PR
Perhaps that is meant to attract advertisers and subscribers to publications that specialize in posting association executive jobs. Or, it may be an attempt to lure corporate employees (and their dues-paying dollars) to the not-for-profit world by demonstrating how well-paid one can become.
But it's bad PR for the profession. Here's why:
1. It gives the impression that association professionals, CEOs in particular, earn extravagant salaries.
Some do, but most are paid far less than those whose compensation is itemized in these reports. So, the data is misleading - and makes us all look stinking rich.
2. It gives the impression associations are using big salaries to buy legislative power.
Well, that's true. Former Congressmen who are paid seven figure salaries as association CEOs weren't hired for their management or leadership expertise. They were hired for their access to former colleagues.
3. It disregards the huge financial divide between association professionals and the general public.
The 2010 median salary for an association CEO in the Chicago area with a budget between $500,000 and $1 million, for example, was $129,000.
That's higher than the average salary of United States governors.
The Governor of Wyoming, with 15,723 employees and a $3.2 billion dollar budget, is paid $105,000 per year. The average American family of four earns $50,000 per year.
It may seem natural to promote the financial advantages of participation in a profession or industry. And higher salaries may generate more respect for staff from some Board members.
But don't lose sight of how your profession - and your association - is viewed by other audiences that may also matter.
June 12, 2013: Focus on the giver, not the recipient
If you want people to give money (or anything else) to your organization or cause, you have to know what will prompt them to give. The needs of the recipients may not be the most important factor.
Do givers want recognition or status? Do they want to give to successful causes, not merely to "worthy" ones? Do they have other goals?
How do they want to give? Some prefer crowdfunding or KickStarting to direct mail appeals or event participation.
Find out what motivates givers and recognize they are all different. Pleading for support for recipients won't always work.
June 11, 2013: Discussion techniques
1. In brainstorming sessions all ideas are NOT equal and all ideas are not worth considering. So don't be afraid to prune the list of ideas.
2. In collaborative decision-making settings, people often compromise too soon. Don't let good ideas get dropped just to avoid conflict.
3. When breakout groups are used in large meetings, minority opinions tend to be squelched early on, and never heard by the larger group. Unless you are striving for majority opinion, rather than quality opinion, don't let that happen.
June 10, 2013: Sponsorship definitions
1. Charitable organizations usually consider a "sponsor" to be a supporter who pays more than the ticket price for an event.
2. Medical associations often think a "sponsor" is a company that pays for a meal at which a company representative delivers an educational presentation.
3. Many view a "sponsor" as a company that wants to help an association.
4. Most organizations, though, understand that a "sponsor" is merely a company that is paying for access to the group's market.
So, be sure you understand what your Board, committees, and co-workers mean when they refer to "sponsors."
It will be difficult to plan an effective sponsor solicitation plan if everybody involved defines a "sponsor" differently.
June 09, 2013: Web writing tips
Here are some web writing tips.