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A colleague recently confided in me that although her association is facing serious challenges, the board isn’t interested in learning how to govern more effectively. Her attempts to educate them are always met with resistance.   You can guess where this group is headed. If they manage to survive over the next few years, it will be a painful struggle. The situation is unfortunate because this association represents an industry that has the potential for exponential growth. This is an extreme example of why innovation is a critical organizational value.   Innovative organizations are not just the digital superstars. Being first to jump on every bandwagon ...
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Siloed organizations used to be hard to manage; today, they are a real business liability. Success in the digital marketplace depends on a holistic approach —this is a mantra that I can’t repeat frequently enough. Systems, teams, and departments must all be directed toward common goals.   If imposing this level of discipline seems daunting, a content strategy is an effective tool to get your cats running in the same direction. As technology advances, those felines become harder to herd. Content has outstripped the written word. For better or worse, electronic media makes everyone a producer. Video, audio, and written information are simple to create and ...
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My fascination with technology began when I realized it would help me become better at something I love—dealing with challenging problems. Originally, .orgSource was focused on software and hardware solutions. Today, although our scope has expanded to include integrating strategy, systems, and communications, problem-solving remains the core of our business.   The puzzle we will never complete is the most interesting. We are constantly seeking to understand how associations should position for success in an uncertain future. Four years ago, my business partner, Kevin Ordonez, and I began researching how Industry 4.0 , would impact associations. We believed ...
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You wouldn’t go to the bank for a loan without a fine-tuned business plan or approach a fundraising prospect for a major gift before learning everything you could about their interests. With so much riding on sponsorship revenue, it’s surprising that our industry partners don’t always get the kind of special treatment this important relationship deserves. Rolling out the red-carpet to make a sponsorship request isn’t as second nature as it should be.   The need to deliver value in a virtual setting forced most groups to think creatively about how to offer meaningful interaction in the low-touch environment. But our perspective still needs to make another ...
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The conference ROI slowly rose like a gator lifting its head from the swamp of negative numbers. But membership dues, product sales, and web analytics are sinking deeper into quicksand. Even facing a dismal scenario like this, the decision to call for outside expertise can be difficult. I understand why leaders hesitate to hire a consultant. The search can be lengthy and time-consuming. There may be significant expense involved. The board expects you, as the CEO, to solve the problem, and you find yourself wondering why you and your team are not making progress. There are no definitive rules about when to give up fighting the good fight. However, there are ...
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I found a relic of my former life when I was organizing my files. It was a presentation I created back in January 2020. The title was Association 4.0—Creating Community in a Less Social World . I planned to use the deck to launch a new series of in-person Think Tanks. The topic was going to expand on an earlier discussion about how Industry 4.0, or the digital revolution, would impact associations.   You know what happened next. Shortly, after I scheduled the meeting, I had to cancel. Everyone had more pressing issues to worry about. In hindsight, I’m amazed at how accurately the title reflects the challenge we were, and are, facing. Today, both everything ...
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Podcasts are the perfect learning tool for multitaskers. You can walk the dog, workout, or pick up a Starbucks and be educated and entertained at the same time. That’s why .orgSource, .orgCommunity’s partner consultancy, is excited to launch the   Association 4.0 series . If you’re already a podcast fan, you just scored some great new episodes. If you’re new to the medium, our programs might get you hooked.   This group of recordings from our consultants and colleagues was created to:   Present innovative perspectives on issues that keep leaders up at night. Provide advice from experts in our industry about topics ranging from governing your organization ...
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How do you grow membership in a harsh climate? Attracting a wider audience and turning those customers into community is a good way to start.   We’ve been on notice since well before the pandemic that shifts are occurring in why people join an association and what they want once they sign on. Going virtual has brought those issues sharply into focus.   Over a year ago, my business partner, Kevin Ordonez, and I wrote two books* about the future of associations in the digital marketplace. We interviewed CEOs from organizations across the country as well as heads of companies that serve the association industry. Changing membership models were a frequent ...
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What’s the single best thing you can do for your career? It doesn’t require special training, it’s never too late to get started, better still, it will return your investment of energy and effort many times over. With all those pluses, why isn’t building a strong network at the top of every leader’s list of professional goals?   Trading business cards comes naturally for me. It’s a fortunate accident of DNA. Although there are lots of extraverts in the association community, not everyone loves to mix and mingle with a new crowd. Even gregarious people may not enjoy introducing themselves to an unfamiliar audience. Others simply don’t want to take the time ...
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From VIP clubs to fancy swag and tiered pricing, the tactics to win members’ hearts are only limited by imagination. When the economy, technology, or social disruption, like the pandemic, threatens to come between us and our reason for being, a little panic is understandable. But before you load on the giveaways and short-lived solutions, make sure that the fundamentals for a strong membership initiative are in place.   Put Technology First In the era of Match.com, lots of relationships start online. The communication between your association and its members is no exception. More often than not, your website is the venue for your first date. If that initial ...
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Every new hire is either an opportunity for success or a challenge to it. No recruit is neutral. If there are people on your team who don’t rock the boat, but never move it forward, that’s a drain on precious resources. Interviewing in a virtual environment adds a dimension to an already high stakes process.     Interviewers need to be ambassadors, psychologists, empaths, and detectives to accurately assess candidates in what is, typically, a short period of time. Even when recruitment includes multiple meetings with representatives from across the organization, missteps are common.   Remote work makes the world your oyster. You can cherry-pick talent ...
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I hate to see COVID-19 give remote work a bad rap. The ability to do business from anywhere gives you the superpower to slay disruption in its tracks. But only when you learn the rules.   Over the last few months, more than a few people feel as though work sabotaged their lives. The office abruptly moved into their homes along with school and the playground. It would be hard to imagine a worse scenario for making the switch to an online association. Organizations with long-standing remote work initiatives were islands of calm in the chaos. Those fortunate groups already had the opportunity to discover how to take their operations virtual.   Transitioning ...
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We’ve all had the feeling—You click to leave the Zoom meeting and your brain needs a refresh along with the computer screen. Here’s some not so surprising news. Zoom fatigue is real.   A study from Microsoft’s Human Factor’s Lab demonstrates that brainwave patterns associated with stress and overwork are higher during remote than in-person collaboration. But there is an interesting twist. The reverse is also true. People who first collaborate online seem to register more stress when they begin working together in person.   Enforced change is almost always uncomfortable. Work, an activity which for decades has been characterized by predictability, has ...
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As an entrepreneur who works in the association community, I’m always aware of the differences in these two worlds and the circumstances that influence their distinct perspectives. Associations are cautious diplomats. They try so hard to avoid a misstep that sometimes they don’t see the edge and fall off the cliff despite themselves. On the other hand, us entrepreneurs are bold upstarts. Our willingness to grasp at straws of opportunity can prove equally disastrous.   Neither group is immune to an extreme approach to risk; but, as the digital revolution continues destabilizing the business environment, it’s clear that to keep their balance associations need ...
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Did your organization leap or crawl into the virtual realm? The pandemic’s challenging circumstances demanded a quick transition that left many associations carrying unnecessary baggage to the other side. Trying to manage an analog culture in the digital marketplace requires heavy lifting. The new year brings an opportunity to lighten that load.   You may have acquired new software and added skills but having and using that technology does not equal integration into the digital environment. It only gives you the tools to get there. There is a significant difference between being digitized and digital. Gartner, the information and technology research consultancy, ...
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Are You Listening?

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It’s one thing when you choose to do your job at the kitchen table; It’s another to be stuck there without an alternative. By choice, the kitchen seems cozy.  When it’s the only space available—not so much. I make that distinction because remote work shouldn’t take all the fall for the perfectly understandable cultural stress occurring in many organizations.  Now more than ever, the need for listening comes to the fore.   If you are a leader who understands the connection between a positive culture and success, you’re probably communicating with your staff with greater frequency and intention than ever. And, undoubtedly, you’re listening more often than talking. ...
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Can you guess the answer to this question? Virginia (Ginni) Rometty, Executive Chairman of IBM, recommended making these critical marketing shifts within the next 18 months or risk being left in the dust: Move the focus from market segmentation to the individual customer. “Create systems of engagement” that go beyond reaching out to tracking brand and customer interactions over time and using that information to “maximize value creation at every touch point.” Promote authenticity and transparency by aligning brand and culture.   What year was it?   Surprisingly, Rometty made these remarks in February 2013. She was speaking to CMOs and CIOs ...
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This message appeared on my phone the other day: Hi Kristina: I’ve been waiting for you. I’m Rose Resident Mischief-Maker at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. As your virtual hook-up, just text me for housekeeping requests, restaurant reservations, room service orders, guest services, and more. Just reply Rose and I’ll show you everything I can do. Aside from the fact that an imperfectly programmed human missed a digit in Kristina’s phone number and sent the AI on a futile mission, this was a good example of pandemic adaptation. It signals what the future holds not only for hotels but for industry across the board. Rose will only grow smarter and smarter ...
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Most of us won’t be celebrating Thanksgiving as usual. Gatherings will be a slimmer version of the traditional mega feast. There’s no need to hunt down the extra table leaf and chairs. The good news is maybe Uncle Harry, who you love to hate, won’t be there. The bad news is that you’ll probably miss him more than you think. You might even imagine yourself saying, “Sure, Harry, enjoy that cigar. Nobody minds a little smoke.”   We’ve had eight months to get used to separation, but it remains stressful and difficult, perhaps more so than ever. Like me, you’ve probably found your bright spots and moments for gratitude. Although I would be thrilled if my daughters ...
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This article originally appeared in the  Fall 2020 issue of VantagePoint magazine , the quarterly publication of WSAE. Author Amanda VanNatta, CPA, is Senior Manager at Wegner CPAs, a WSAE member. Net income received by a tax-exempt organization may be subject to federal corporate income taxation if the income is generated by the performance of an activity that is a trade or business, is regularly carried on, and is not substantially related to the organization’s tax exempt purpose. One area of debate has been whether an organization’s production of a convention or trade show was an activity that was substantially related to the organization’s tax-exempt ...
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