An Executive Director's point of view


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 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.

December 23, 2015: Good at everything?

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
Reading association magazines, blogs, and listservs, you'd think there were a slew of associations that did everything well.

Well, there aren't.

Even robust, well-managed organizations often miss the mark in some of their activities.

So, don't envy organizations that seem to be more successful than yours. Don't wish you were just like them. Don't try to imitate them.

If you think other associations could be a source of good ideas, don’t choose one as a “model.” Check out lots of different groups and grab the ideas you think could work for you.

An organization that appears to enjoy a high level of achievement in one activity may be suffering a horrible setback in another.

September 28, 2015: Action, not position papers

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
If your organization seeks to influence a decision - public or private - it needs to determine how that decision will be made and how it can be influenced.

Announcing a policy position or publishing a journal, magazine, or newsletter article may be part of a larger advocacy strategy. But those activities, alone, are not enough.

To succeed, you must TAKE ACTION. Simply voicing your opinion is insufficient. You need to engage in activities that are likely to persuade decision-makers to adopt your position. And you need like-minded individuals and groups - including those outside of your industry or profession - to do the same.

Making speeches and issuing declarations is just not enough.

September 08, 2015: Most and least liked industries

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
A recent Gallup poll asked respondents their opinions of specific American industries. These public perceptions often influence groups' lobbying, public relations, and fund-raising efforts and should be treated with importance.

I was surprised by the low ranking of the health care industry (I'm guessing people rated medical companies, not physicians or nurses) and the somewhat higher ranking of the automobile industry.

July 22, 2015: Like it used to be

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
When you hear long-time members or former leaders pining about "the old days," don't dismiss their memories as worn out war stories.

Listen to what they say, because they may be sharing valuable insights and information that you can use.
Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt

July 07, 2015: Revenge of the volunteers

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
There's a lot of chatter about how volunteer moderators shut down their groups on Reddit to register their unhappiness with the company's firing of an employee.

The company had no obligation to explain why that person had been fired. And the volunteers had no right to know.

But if a company - or an association - relies on volunteers to deliver a major portion of its services, it should incorporate their feelings into whatever course of action it pursues. (But it should not bend to their will).

Lessons for associations:

1. Anticipate an unpleasant reaction to a controversial decision, and be prepared for it.

2. Don't create a situation where anybody - volunteers or employees - can, or will, shut down an organization because they disagree with a decision that has been made.

June 17, 2015: Certification problem

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
An association found that more than one-fourth of its certified members had not renewed their credential nor sought the higher credentialing levels that were available. And that number was increasing each year.

The profession was not licensed, so it was felt that certification was necessary to identify practitioners who were truly qualified. Thus, additional requirements were added every few years to keep pace with developments in the field. And the changes applied to everybody.

Many certified members, though, felt the additional requirements were being promoted by those who had earned the higher credentials and merely wanted to gain a professional advantage over their less-credentialed colleagues.

Question: At what point will the credential no longer be valued?

If the majority of members reject the credentialing process, will non-credentialed members outnumber those who are credentialed? Will the association then phase out the credential or scale back the requirements? Will the non-renewed members create a competing association that will claim the credential is not necessary?

Don't ignore the problem if this happens in your organization. If you think the credential holds value, determine why people are forgoing the process and find a responsible way to accommodate their concerns. Otherwise, you might be left with a worthless credentialing process.

May 04, 2015: Rating customer service

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
When online surveys ask if you are satisfied with the results of customer service requests, they are not asking your opinion of the company, the product, the customer service process, or even the information you were given.

They are evaluating the performance of the person or company that was hired to provide your answer.

So, don't say "no," even if the answer did not help you. Doing so will be treated as a criticism of the customer service personnel, who will be punished for not having provided the proper reply, even if they did a good job serving you.

If you dislike the company, its product, or the customer service process, find a different venue to voice your complaint.
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