An Executive Director's point of view
April 28, 2013: Too many specialty groups
They hold educational conferences that address only their areas of interest. They publish magazines and newsletters, post blogs and websites, and tweet about issues that cover only their areas of interest.
They no longer have to settle for a small piece of a larger, industry-based program. They can focus totally on what is important to them.
Though the growth of specialty groups may provide better educational opportunities, it may also weaken the organizational capacity of the groups:
1. Too many dues payments. Professionals cannot always join every organization that addresses their interests. So specialty groups often have to compete with each other for members.
2. Fewer members in each group. As prospective members establish their organizational priorities, they may omit associations they might have otherwise joined. So, each group ends up speaking with a smaller voice than might have been expected.
3. Smaller budgets. Smaller groups have smaller budgets and cannot always afford the conference services and other activities that might benefit their members.
4. Fewer professional staff. Smaller budgets often cannot accommodate enough staff - or any staff - to perform basic tasks. Volunteers are often required to manage day-to-day operations, and they don't always have the time or the skills to do that.
5. Less control. To better achieve their goals, many specialty groups align with, or are managed by, larger groups. While having access to more services, they often have to surrender control over operational details and submit to the control of the those groups. Such things as staffing, office space, equipment use, conference services, and even adoption of policy positions, become matters for negotiation.
If specialty associations can be expected to proliferate in future years, these groups will have to learn how to function effectively with limited resources, volunteers will have to be trained to manage group activities, and the roles of Board and staff will need to be revisited.
December 11, 2012: It's a non-profit?
November 28, 2012: Startup success
Could association startups succeed where larger associations couldn't?
March 12, 2012: Why don't they get it?
Not-for-profits exist to provide more and better services. They have to earn a profit to pay for those services, but the services, not the profit, is the measure of their success.
Why do so many for-profit people not understand the not-for-profit business model?
August 16, 2011: Chamber woes
If Chambers are to lead business development in the future, it is argued, they must have the capacity to lead. Today, many don't.
But Chambers of Commerce were not formed to be business leaders. They were meant to provide networking opportunities for business owners and to promote what was already there. By design, they were today-focused, not future-focused.
Economic planning, in many areas, is often done by Local Development Corporations and other entities, sometimes with the support of local Chambers, but often without it. Those groups package loans, attract new businesses, and conduct economic planning activities.
If Chambers want to play the role of future leaders, they'll have to change their purposes. Sidewalk sales and networking lunches won't do it.
July 28, 2011: Whose organization is it?
...I had a vision, I funded it, sacrificed for it and I want to make sure every member has the best interest of our mission at heart...I have not drawn a penny of salary and pumped thousands into this organization.
"I will not let it fail or veer off course because someone has a different agenda."
This was not the only comment on the "Abolish the Board" thread voiced by an organization's Founder (who simultaneously served as Executive Director). Several felt that since they created their groups, they should be able to set their course. Similar issues surfaced in Blue Avocado's lively debate about the firing of a Founder.
No matter who founded an organization, or why it was begun, a not-for-profit organization belongs to the members, not the founder.
If you want to make all the decisions yourself, start your own business.
July 08, 2011: IRS tax-exemption revocation
She was surprised, and passed my alert on to the Treasurer, who assured me he had "dotted the I's and crossed the T's."
So why was this group on the list?
June 21, 2011: Yesterday and today
I'm not the one who should have remembered.
The emcee should have introduced him along with other celebrities. Past Presidents, Board members, Executive Directors, staff, and other former leaders should be recognized at organizational events.
It keeps them connected to the association, helps maintain the loyalty of long-time members (who may also feel forgotten), and promotes the strength, longevity, and potency of the group.
It's fine to focus on today and tomorrow, but don't ignore the people who helped yesterday.
June 19, 2011: Mixed emotions
However, she expressed surprise that in the days following the meeting, nobody asked her to reconsider.
Well, they may have been happy she resigned. Even if her comments were accurate and appropriately conveyed, she clearly did not share their attitudes about the organization's direction.
Logical questions: Should she have resigned at the Board meeting or in a more private setting? Was her criticism perceived as personal? Why would she think the Board would ask her to reconsider? Are her opinions correct? Did the Board disregard dissenting opinions?
Whatever the story, she still liked the association. She just wished its leaders would do things the right way.
June 13, 2011: Chapter secession
It is following the path of many, many parent groups nationwide that no longer feel there is any value in being part of the National PTA.
Lesson for associations? Take good care of your chapters. Otherwise, they may leave you and start their own organizations.