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  • 12 Oct 2017 9:32 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Many of my clients tell me they’re worried about the future of their association.  They’re worried about declining membership rates; lack of engagement; the increase in competitors (Google we’re looking at you!) and more.

    If you’re worried about the future of your association, and don’t know what move to make next, you need to know what’s coming down the pipeline. After all, forewarned is forearmed. Here’s just a few trends making headlines.

    1. Robots will revolutionise the workplace

      40% of jobs today will not exist in 30 years.  Why? Because the advent of artificial intelligence, business bots, autonomous robots and other technology advances are replacing existing jobs at an ever-increasing pace.

      For example, the transport industry will experience mass job loss as autonomous vehicles become more common. Mining companies are already using driverless trucks to do dirty, dangerous work; they can afford to do so because the remoteness of the location (and lack of humans to run over) enables them to test the driverless trucks without extensive regulatory oversight.

      This disruption is not limited to traditional blue-collar jobs. Artificial intelligence (AI) is being developed to replace lawyers. Leading global law firm Herbert Smith Freehills has created a global Alternative Legal Services (ALT) business. This facility is the first of its kind to be opened and operated by a law firm in Australia. It combines legal expertise and technology solutions to process high-volume work more efficiently. Last year, the team used AI to process a staggering 63 million documents, review over 3 million documents and 5,000 property leases. 

      Aged care providers will seek out robots to do the physical heavy-lifting once done by carers and nurses. They’ll also use robots to dispense medications and ensure compliance. Staff will still be needed of course but mainly to offer the ‘human touch’ and the ‘caring element’ that robots can’t provide (yet).

      Kevin Bloch, Chief Technologist Officer at CiSCO (Australia/NZ) made it very clear how service providers can provide a point of difference and avoid being replaced by robots. “The safest jobs are those where qualitative decision making and relationship-building skills are required.”

      How does this affect your association?

      If your association relies on humans to do what a robot can do, you’re at risk of having your membership based eroded because those humans won’t be needed in that role for much longer.
    2. Bricks and mortar stores will survive - but only some!

      Brick and mortar stores that simply offer product without context or expertise will find it difficult to compete in the new environment.  And those that don’t have a fully formed online presence are guaranteed to fail.  Those most likely to succeed will have a ‘phygital’ presence - where the physical meets the digital - that enables them to provide fast, easy and personalised experiences.

      How does this affect your association?

      If you’re in the retail sector and your members rely on people visiting their storefront, they will have to up their game and find new ways to bring people into their store. They’ll need to consider creating experiences that simply can’t be had just by buying online. Westfield shopping centres have turned into entertainment palaces and regularly feature fashion parades, gigantic playgrounds and rock concerts to keep the masses entertained. If your members can’t compete with the likes of Westfield centres, they need to find a way to compete.
    3. The Gig Economy will casualise the workforce and reduce membership potential

      “Why pay people when they’re not actually working?” is what Monique Eddy says, an in-demand virtual assistant. “My clients pay me an hourly rate for specific tasks. They love it because they only pay for what they get and they get high-quality work without any of the staffing or contractual issues.” If you’ve ever watched a staff member file their nails whilst checking out Justin Bieber’s Facebook page, you’ll know why so many people are outsourcing their work to people like Monique. 

      Monique is part of the gig economy. The increased casualisation of the workforce means freelancers can select from a range of temporary projects or jobs. It also means employers can select the best individuals from a large pool of workers for specific tasks.

      How does this affect your association?

      The gig economy will have a dramatic effect on the membership levels of your association.  For example, if an organisation in your association currently has 1000 full time staff, in time that could morph down into an organisation with just 100 full-time staff and an ‘on-call’ workforce of 5000 (many of whom will be part of the gig economy and possibly working for other organisations). Many of those on-call workers may not have the need to join your association anymore. The impact of that?  Your association will need new membership models to deal with the growth of those who belong to the gig economy. 

      (Additionally, if your staff is made up of Gen Y and Millennials, chances are they’re already part of the gig economy and doing much of that work on the side, during the day, on your dime! Sad but true.)
    4. Drone usage will expand dramatically

      Get used to seeing the skies filled with connected drones that can scan vast distances and collect data whilst doing so. Our defence forces have used them in combat zones for years and domestically Australia Post and Amazon have been testing extensively to see how drones can be used to deliver parcels.

      How does this affect your association?

      If you’re in the farming, agricultural, telecom, aid or medical sector, to name just a few, you can expect to see the usage of drones ‘skyrocket’. Consider the ability of drones to deliver snake anti-venom directly to a bushwalker. Or scan an earthquake zone for survivors. Or to launch a wireless network in a cyclone ravaged suburb. Or to scan an orchard to see if the fruit is ready for picking.

      Drones will be a game changer for many industries and by default, many associations.
    5 key take-aways:
    1. Be prepared. Change is coming. There is no going back and accepting that change is the new normal is the key to moving forward.
    2. Keep abreast of the trends in your industry. It’s easy to do. Just Google - “Trends in… (insert your industry name here) industry – and take a look at the Thought Leaders commenting on it and follow them on Twitter. It’s a quick way to keep up with what’s happening.
    3. Get involved. There’s some fun ways you can keep ahead of the curve. Visit CiSCOs’ Innovation Centre; or attend a Meet-Up with drone enthusiasts and get up close and personal with those who are creating the future.
    4. Get competent at using technology. If technology intimidates you, upskill so that it doesn’t. Libraries and councils offer great, cost-effective short courses on a range of tech topics. Even better, ask your 10-year-old to show you how they use the iPad (and you’ll quickly discover why Gen Z are poised to take over the world!). What they know about technology will astound you. 
    5. Connect with experts. Invite the thought leaders in your industry to blog for your association. Find out who’s who by attending conferences like C2 Conference, one of the world’s most innovative business conferences.
  • 12 Oct 2017 9:05 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    When David Williams from Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) realised their database had been subjected to a data breach, he knew exactly what to do. Having a clear understanding of the governance, legal and communication requirements in a crisis situation, he swiftly developed a specific plan for this situation which saved his association being fined up to $100,000. 

    “The first few hours of any data breach are critical. Not just in containing the crisis but in demonstrating to the authorities that you have acted in good faith to prevent it from happening in the first place,” says David.

    “The Privacy Commission can impose fines of up to $100,000 for a data breach so it’s a pretty serious situation. Fortunately, we scrupulously documented every step in our process to show we had done everything in our power to minimise the damage. We also had a strong relationship with our law firm and they immediately sprang into action and provided a fit-for-scale response.”

    Here’s how the crisis unfolded.

    A staff member received an email purportedly from the ‘CEO’ of the association, requesting a copy of the association database. The unsuspecting staff member acted upon the request and forwarded the database to the ‘CEO’.  

    “The email was very convincing,” said David. “The language, the logo, the font, the style; everything looked legitimate. Hackers have become unbelievably good at re-creating realistic-looking emails. It’s very difficult to spot a fraudulent email these days.”

    When the staff member checked in with the real CEO and realised that he had not requested a copy of the database and that the email request was fraudulent, the organisation went into crisis mode.

    “The way they handled it is text book ‘best practice’ and it’s a template for how other associations should manage it,” says Toby Tremayne, CEO of Magic Industries, IT expert and white-hat hacker. “If you are unfortunate enough to be the subject of a data breach, the approach taken by the PIA should be used as a guide.”

    9 Tips on how to manage a data breach.

    If you’ve been, or are at risk of a data breach (and let’s be honest, every organisation is), here’s nine tips on how to manage it.

    1. They contacted their lawyer. Having a legal team already established is essential when managing situations like this. Precious time can be lost just finding the right company to talk to so prepare for the worst by hiring an appropriate legal team before you actually need them. The first few hours are critical in containing the crisis so it pays to know who your lawyers are, what they’ll want to know and how to manage the stakeholder communication process.
    2. They asked the staff member responsible for the breach to head home for the day. They knew the person who had enabled the breach was mortified it had happened but to cover their bases and to protect the association (and the person) from any unintended consequences (legal or personal), they felt this was the right decision.
    3. They contacted the Privacy Commissioner to advise them of the breach. This action also helped reduce the legal blowback they could have been exposed to. It also went a long way in demonstrating to the Privacy Commission that they had acted in good faith, had followed due process and were honest and upfront about the breach from the start.
    4. They convened a board meeting to let everyone know what had happened.  
    5. They commissioned an IT expert to conduct an audit trail to detect how the breach had occurred. It didn’t reveal much but it did show to all stakeholders that they acted in good faith to find the source of the breach. 
    6. They alerted all staff to what had happened and prepared a script so that if members called they could be given a consistent, accurate response. 
    7. After consultation with all stakeholders, they informed all members about the breach. 
    8. They set up a dedicated phone line for members to call to find out if their details had been inadvertently released. 
    9. They wrote a full report about the breach, sent it to the Privacy Commissioner outlining the legal and governance action they had taken to rectify the situation.
    Data breaches can be costly.
    It doesn’t take long for the costs of a data breach to add up but had PIA not responded the way they did, it could have cost them a great deal more.
     “We avoided a fine from The Privacy Commission due to the open and transparent way in which we managed the breach. The timely reporting of any breach to the correct authorities is critical in conveying the fact that the association has acted in good faith at every turn,” said David.
    “The breach was not without cost however,” he added.  “The legal expenses were $10,000 and it took a week of management time to contain the crisis.”
    I asked David what they could have done differently to prevent it.
    “Not much. It’s fiendishly difficult to prevent a breach. It’s certainly impossible to prevent receiving a rogue email,” he said.
    “My advice to association executives is to create a culture of awareness; educate your team on what to look for and what to do if they suspect they’ve received a rogue email. Training your team is the first step in preventing it from happening in the first place, and containing it if and when it does happen.”
    Key takeaways:
    1. Act quickly – being seen to act quickly is as important as acting quickly. It’s a crisis so it requires fast decision making and rapid deployment of resources. 
    2. Report it to the authorities promptly – contact the Privacy Commission quickly to demonstrate good faith that you are acting in the best interests of your members. 
    3. Train your team in what to look for and how to manage it if it happens – if they know what to look for and how to respond, it’s less likely to happen. 
    4. Be open and upfront with your members – prepare your communication plan in advance so that if or when it happens, you have well-written documents ready to go.
    1. 12 Oct 2017 9:04 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
      Woody Allen says, “99 per cent of a successful movie is in the casting.” It’s the same when choosing speakers for your conference. ‘Casting’ poor speakers is one of the fastest ways to ruin a conference. Sure, you have to give sponsors the air-time as part of the partnership package but it’s important they are up to the task of entertaining, informing and educating your delegates.  Here’s a few tips on how you can ensure your speaker line-up is world class. 
      1. Audition the speaker
        I saw a very competent fireman speak about safety at a construction conference. Let’s put it this way - as a conference speaker he made a terrific fireman. He made all the usual mistakes. He spoke to the screen, read out his PowerPoint slides word for word and ran the gamut of emotions from A to B. You could tell he was a stickler for process. Yes, that’s the sort of guy you want putting out your fire but not the sort of guy you want on your stage.
        The solution? You need to see your speakers in action before you book them. Watch their videos, ask them to send in a 3-minute presentation via their phone video, or just ask around to see who can vouch for them.

      2. Choose your MC wisely

        One speaker I saw was given 45 minutes to speak. He got up, spoke for 15 minutes and said ‘Gee, that went quickly!’ and sat down. The audience sat there twiddling their thumbs. The MC didn’t have the presence of mind to get up and start interviewing the speaker before they left the stage. Embarrassment all round. Fortunately, the next speaker was loitering in the foyer. He was collared and able to step up to take the stage but it was stressful for all concerned. Choose your MC wisely and make sure they can ‘tap-dance’ to cover any timing issues that might arise.

      3. Offer presentation skills training

        One organisation doing this extremely well is the Industry Capability Network (Victoria). They run a very important networking event for 400 SME’s every year. It’s a premium event that they can’t afford to get wrong. They know the importance of speakers to the success of their event and aren’t afraid to invest in upskilling their event speakers.

        Executive Director, Don Matthews says:

        “We choose our speakers very carefully but we also give them presentation skills training before the event. We want to make sure our speakers are all of a consistent standard, know what the other is going to speak on and we give them the time and coaching they need to be brilliant. Yes, it’s an expense but we know that having a reputation for having great speakers is well worth the investment.”

        So how do they train their speakers before the event?

        “We have invited a speaker coach, Bernadette Schwerdt, to deliver a half-day workshop for all our speakers. She is also the MC on the day so we get a double whammy by engaging her.  This training serves many purposes. It helps us see the speakers in action before the event so we can nip any issues in the bud. It helps the other speakers understand what the others are talking about so there is no duplication on the day and lastly, it’s a terrific networking event for our speakers.”

      4. Give them a PowerPoint template to follow and a deadline

        Nothing focuses the mind like a looming deadline and if you give your speakers one, they’ll generally abide by it. Make sure your speakers know that they have to submit their presentation in advance and give them a template to follow so that they retain your corporate style.

        Give them plenty of notice so there is no excuse for not meeting the deadline and follow up if they don’t deliver.  

        If they don’t comply, this ‘carrot and stick’ approach works well. Tell them: ‘the slides are being locked off by the AV team and you will not have access to a slide deck if you don’t get them to us by this date.”

        Trust me on this: nothing strikes fear into the heart of a presenter than not being able to use slides!

      5. Create a Speaker Pack and ask them to follow the guidelines

        A comprehensive Speaker Pack sets the standard for what you expect from conference speakers. It is a lot of work to put it together but once it’s done, you can re-use it each year. It will save hours of briefings and eliminate that flurry of last-minute emails between you and your speakers before the event.

        Here’s what it should cover:
        ·   Duration of speech
        ·   Arrival time
        ·   Topics you’d like them to cover
        ·   Key deadlines they need to meet
        ·   Sample synopses they can use as templates for their speech
        ·   Slide templates for them to use
        ·   Speaker tips and checklists
        ·   Videos for them to watch to gain inspiration
        ·   AV/IT options and what they need to bring
        ·   A contact person for all correspondence 

        Don’t ruin the reputation of your conference (and your association) by hiring bad speakers.  But if you can’t control the speakers you get given, help them be their best and you’ll have a conference that everyone talks about for years – in a good way. 
      Key takeaways:

      1.  Success is in the casting – choose your speakers (and MC) carefully; watch their videos, ask around to see who knows them and if in doubt, ask them to send in a video.

      2.  Create a Speaker Pack – it’s a lot of work to put it together but it sets the expectations, the speakers will be grateful for the heads-up and you’ll get a better performance from everyone.

      3.  Offer presentation skills training – if you can’t guarantee your speakers will be great, offer them coaching before the event and help them be the best they can be.
    2. 12 Oct 2017 9:01 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      You don’t have to look too far to find a board that has gone horribly wrong. Most association executives have followed with interest the Certified Practicing Association (CPA) disaster.

      For those not in the know, Alex Malley, the long-standing CEO of the CPA was sacked in June 2017 and given a $4.9 million golden parachute. The move came after an ongoing outcry about the way CPA was being run and earlier revelations of

      Mr Malley's $1.79 million salary.

      “The board decided to terminate Alex’s contract in order to allow CPA Australia staff and Alex to move forward ,’ went the media release.

      Mr Malley didn't go into detail about his severance pay besides noting: "I wasn't planning to leave." Indeed. What association CEO being paid over a million dollars would?

      So, what can we learn about this sorry saga? Kate Hartwig is a governance expert and shared her thoughts on how this situation came to be.

      “The Board and the CEO have distinct, but complementary, roles that work in harmony in well governed associations.  Sometimes, however, the relationship between Board and CEO is out of balance with too much power and authority placed in one or the other.  In this case, it would appear that the Board was dazzled by a charismatic CEO and allowed him far too much licence to do as he pleased.  It also suggests an organisation out of touch with its members’ needs and concerns.”

      I asked Kate the question everyone was asking: “But surely the members knew what Malley was being paid? Surely they could see the spending on the billboards promoting the TV chat show, the print advertisements promoting his Naked CEO


      Kate responded. “The Board and the CEO hold positions of trust in any not-for-profit organisation, and where that trust is misplaced it can be difficult for individual members to do anything about the situation.  Calling an Extraordinary General Meeting to propose a vote of no confidence in either the Board or the CEO is difficult to organise and would require a lot of coordination amongst the rank and file.  There is also the fact that most members are not very interested in the politics of their Association as long as they are getting what they perceive to be value from their membership subscription.  Many associations struggle even to get a quorum at an AGM and it can require a crisis situation to fully engage member interest.”

      The CPA case study clearly demonstrates the importance of good governance but also how hard it is to achieve it. 

      Kate is clear on this matter.  “Good governance practices provide the checks and balances associations need to ensure a healthy and productive organisation,” she said.  “Having these systems and processes in place means that members can have confidence in their leadership and that the organisation is bigger and stronger than the individuals elected or appointed to lead it.”

      There’s no magic bullet for how to manage poor governance but there are a few things you can do to ensure you as a board member or a CEO create a functional working relationship.

      1. Be clear on your role

        If you’re a board member, your job is to ask probing questions.  Don’t be content with an answer that doesn’t stack up. Keep digging. It’s your job.

        If you’re a CEO, acknowledge that the board may not have access to the detail that you do and step them through your decision making. Communication is the key.

      2. Get trained

        Like anything new, we need to up-skill. If you’re new to the board, attend training courses on how to be an effective board member, read up on relevant publications or seek the mentorship of someone who has been on a board before.

      3. Be prepared

        If you’re the CEO, send out the reports in advance and ask for the specific input you’d like from the board. This ensures they can prepare adequately

      4. Don’t confuse governance with operations

        A board member needs to focus on the big picture and leave the operational matters to the CEO and the association team. It’s important for board members to become familiar with the difference between the two.
      Key take-aways:
      1. Don’t assume that everything is okay just because that’s the way it’s been done before. Challenge conventional thinking.

      2. Up-skill – if you’re new to a board, take the time to find out how to be a valuable member of it.   Take a look at Kate Hartwig’s ebook on governance

      3. As a board member, get clarity on the difference between governance and operations.  
    3. 12 Oct 2017 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      In a world where disruption is creating havoc at every turn, wouldn’t it be great to have some quick and easy ways to raise revenue for your association?

      Sure, it would! So, here’s a few ideas (and we have a lot!) to get you started.

      1. Focus on long-term partnerships rather than one-off sponsorships

        One-off sponsorships are seen as easier to secure but they are generally ineffective for the sponsor. Here’s a few reasons why long-term partnerships are better for everyone concerned:

        a) They give the sponsor the opportunity to generate a tangible return from the market you represent. By contrast, short term-partnerships force the sponsor to conduct a ‘sales job’ at every turn which leaves members with a sour taste in their mouth. After all, most members resist the idea of being ‘sold to.’ This can be detrimental to your reputation and to the relationship in general.

        b) Long-term partnerships give the members more exposure to the sponsor which is better for brand recognition, a key aspect of any sponsor deal.

        c) Fewer, higher value, partners enable your team to service them more effectively.  For example, instead of having to offer five partners the chance to speak on stage, you offer just one. Instead of having five partner review meetings, you have one.   This focussed approach generates better outcomes for your partner sponsor and it reduces the time you spend servicing your sponsors, freeing you up to devote your time to other activities.

      2. Get the support of your staff before you offer benefits to your partners

        “One of the worst mistakes you can make when seeking partners is to create partner benefits that your operations team can’t manage. You might think offering a partner a sponsored post is an ‘easy win’ but the marketing team might see it differently,” says Julian Moore, Director of SMS. The logistics of making that benefit a reality requires a process and a team of people to pull it together. “Without the teams’ buy-in and support, the benefit could be difficult to deliver and that leaves you with an unhappy sponsor who doesn’t get what they paid for,” he added.

        (NB: If you like the sound of offering sponsored Twitter tweets or Facebook posts to trusted partners, visit to find out how much people would be willing to pay to access your community.)

      3. Create a jobs boards

        Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE said, “Help people make money and you’ll never be a day out of work.” Offering a Jobs Board is one of those ways. Members love it because it helps them find new jobs (and more money) and employers love it because it streamlines their recruitment process.

        “The best way forward is to offer employers a basic listing for free. If that works, offer a paid, premium service for an enhanced listing. You can then maximise your revenue by offering the members a range of add-on services like resume assistance, placement services and career advice.” says Julian.

      4. Build an online community

        One successful association in the United States has over 100,000 members in their online community. They charge a basic membership fee of $49 per month. Do the math and you can see that’s an outrageously lucrative way to make money. Sure, we in Australia may not have access to those sorts of numbers but even 1000 members paying $29 a month to be a part of the community becomes a very attractive offering to any association.

        Yes, creating an online community takes time, effort and energy, but if you have an engaged membership base, and you can offer outstanding content, support and mentoring, the financial benefits far outweigh the cost to implement it.  Online communities are particularly useful if you have a geographically disparate membership base.

      5. Apply for grants

        A few years ago, I won $5000 in appliances in a magazine competition. I was pleasantly surprised to take the call from the editor of the magazine. When I asked the bearer of this good news how many people entered the competition, she said, “Just one. You.”

        I’ve been entering competitions ever since (and won quite a bit) which supports my hypothesis that you have to be in it to win it. Grants are no different.

        Georgina Luck is a specialist grants writer who has secured grants for many of Australia’s top arts organisations. She said, “You’d be surprised at how few people submit grant applications and for those who do, you’d be surprised at how often they get it wrong. They don’t comply with the criteria, they miss out key sections altogether, or they submit late and can’t be considered. If people can find the time to write even average grants that meet all the criteria, they stand a really good chance of winning.”

        Broadly speaking, there are three types of grants:

        • Government grants (offered at a Federal, State and Local level)
        • Corporate grants (e.g. Optus)
        • Foundation grants (offered from a not-for-profit set up to distribute money). 

      One of the hardest parts about grant seeking is finding ones that are available to your organisation. That’s where organisations like Strategic Grants come in handy. They offer a service where they will provide you with a calendar of all grants available to you, as well as information about submission deadlines.

      Another great source of grant information and tools is Philanthropy Australia.

      So, there you have it!

      If you lie awake at night wondering how your association is going to stay afloat in these turbulent times, take comfort in the knowledge that there are dozens of ways to raise revenue, many of them quick wins, some of them slow burns.

      Key take-aways:

      1. Focus on long-term, multi-year partnerships rather than one-off sponsorships.

      2. Help your members make money and you’ll have a service they’ll repeatedly use.

      3. Creating online sources of income take time to set up but can scale quickly and cheaply and be enormously effective in generating revenue.

      4. You’ve got to be in it to win it. Go for grants whenever possible.

      5. Seek out partners who’ll pay you to sponsor a post.  To find out how much you can charge and how to make it work, speak to social media expert Mel Kettle.


    4. 12 Oct 2017 7:06 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      Is your association’s leadership humble? This may seem like a strange question to ask. It certainly isn’t top of mind for most associations, yet research proves humility is an incredibly important and often overlooked trait key to membership growth and employee engagement.

      For several years I researched many of the nation’s most successful organizations for the content of my latest book, Talent Generation, and two traits are shared among all of them: they value their people and they are visionary. As a result, they aren’t struggling to engage people and they are thriving in this era of disruption.

      Organizations that put people first value people more than anything—even profits. Organizations that are future-focused are visionary, successfully predict and plan for change, and give younger generations an influential role in the development of the organization.

      People first. Future focused. In both of these situations, humility is prevalent.

      The concept of humility conflicts with the 20th century model of running an organization. In the last century, leadership was the equivalent of power. It was expected that the chief executive would be a wildly independent, even egotistic commander. It was expected that the board of directors would follow suit, comprised entirely of experienced leaders granted considerable power to guide the association.

      Perhaps it would seem that during this time of incredible disruption, society would want and need commanding leaders, directing everything and everyone with masterful insight. Yet, the opposite has proven true. The pace of change has ensured that no one is an expert, and for the first time in history, every generation has something to learn and something to teach.

      Your association needs humble leaders to navigate this new era of disruption. Humble leaders are:

      • Self-aware enough to know that they can't possibly know or do everything;
      • Willing to seek new ideas and points of view;
      • Honing new skills and bettering their own abilities through constant learning; and
      • Immersing themselves into dialogue and experiences with younger people.

      Humble leaders understand they are part of something far greater than themselves. They know where they can contribute and where they need to improve or grow.

      As the CEO of a leadership advisory firm, I often advise the leaders I work with to spend time engaged in conversation with younger people. I’ve learned that the most successful, visionary leaders are already doing this as a regular practice, whereas the leaders of organizations that are struggling spend little to no time with people in age groups other than their own.

      This is also true of most association boards, which tend to be largely composed of executives with similar experience, ages, and backgrounds. Too many boards are little more than echo chambers, and the price of admission is based solely on experience. But experience isn’t enough to keep an organization afloat in the 21st century.

      David Dyjack was named executive director and CEO of the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) in 2015. His goal was for NEHA to become a more influential health organization through relationship-building.

      He pushed the team to question the relevance of everything at NEHA and forged alliances with organizations previously thought of as competitors. He established his own think-tank of young professionals which he calls on frequently for advice and feedback.

      Immediately, Dyjack’s humble, collaborative approach to leadership benefited NEHA’s bottom line. One year after he took the helm membership had increased 20 percent, NEHA reported the best financial year in the organization’s history, and attendance at the annual president’s banquet grew by 166 percent.

      Is humility actively practiced in your association? If not, it may be time to reconsider how your association is governed and led. Research proves that humble leaders have higher engagement and improve an organization’s overall performance.

      It isn’t the practice of tearing others down or excluding them that inspires and engages communities or pushes us to become our best selves. It’s humility.

      Written by Sara Sladek

    5. 17 Jul 2017 10:43 PM | Anonymous

      Remember the film ‘Field of Dreams’ with Kevin Costner?  I saw it 27 years ago but the film’s key message continues to resonate: ‘If you build it, they will come’. The same idea relates to securing corporate partnerships. 

      Julian Moore, Director of Strategic Membership Solutions says, “The number one reason why most associations fail to secure high-value partnerships is because they haven’t created a compelling reason for someone to partner with them.   It’s as simple as that.”

      So the message is clear.  If you create a great offer, and develop a proposal that will catch the attention of the prospective partner, the partners will come. With that in mind, here’s a few tips to help you write that all-important proposal.

      1. Start writing

      You could have a very promising meeting with a potential partner but for the relationship to progress, they’ll need to see something in writing. Often more than one person is making the decision to partner with you. Your written proposal can substantially sway the final decision.  Find an existing template online and use that as the starting point.  Whatever you do, get started and remember, done is better than perfect.

      2. Think big

      No-one got anywhere by thinking small.  If you minimise the value of what you have to offer, so will the client. Julian said, “One client with an amazing offer asked for just $5,000 to sponsor their major event.  It was worth much more than that but they didn’t want to scare the partner off with a big price tag. The partner rejected the offer because the offer seemed “too cheap” to be believable.”   Think big! It is easier to offer to lower the price later than try to increase the price when you realised you have undervalued your offer. 

      And don’t forget – offering to place their logo on your website doesn’t cut it any more.  You need to offer them something that they can’t get anywhere else that will help them generate revenue.

      3. Believe in what you offer  

      If you don’t truly believe your offering has value, neither will the client.  Julian says, “Say you represent an association for veterinary nurses.  They don’t earn huge salaries but they can influence a significant number of buying decisions which makes them attractive to makers of animal-related products like dog chews, cat litter and worming tablets.”

      (By the way, your lack of faith in your own offer shows up in subtle ways – by not following up on the proposal, by not being enthusiastic about the offering, and by not asking for what you deserve.)

      Don’t underestimate what you offer and its value.

      4. Think long term

      Sponsoring one event is not always attractive to prospective partners as it only gives them one opportunity to engage with your market. If you were to bundle three or four events per year into a package and put a single, higher price tag on sponsoring the entire bundle, that suddenly becomes a much more attractive proposition. Even better, think in three-year blocks and not only will you secure a long-term partner (and save yourself finding a new one every year), you’ll also be able to offer them better value and more coverage.

      It also pays to be flexible when creating the benefit package – if the client wants something included that you hadn’t considered, be open to incorporating it.  Partnerships are all about helping each other achieve a win-win outcome.  

      5. Write well

      First impressions count so take the time to make your proposal look attractive. It’s not hard.  Use quality images and lots of them. Make the text big so it’s easy to read. If you can’t write, hire a copywriter who can.

      Bernadette Schwerdt, Director of the Australian School of Copywriting has a roster of writers who specialise in writing sponsorship proposals. “It’s all about the benefits.  Partners want to know, ‘what’s in it for them’ if they partner with you so everything must be written from that perspective.” 

      Looks matter too, so hire a cost-effective graphic designer from fiverr or 99Designs to design it.  Sure, it’s an investment but the pay-off can be big and once you’ve done it well once, you can amend it easily to use for other prospective partners.

      6. Give them something they can’t get

      You have to realise that the one thing partners want is access to your valuable database, and that’s something they can’t get without you.   But remember, access does not mean they get a copy of your database. Instead you are providing them with the opportunity to, through you, engage with the valuable market you represent. And if you are prepared to offer exclusivity you greatly enhance the value of what you have to offer. For those not prepared to offer the often-asked for (and almost always denied) endorsement from your association, this is a great way to offer similar value.

      7. Finish it and send it out

      How many half-written proposals do you have in your (digital) bottom drawer that have never been completed or sent?

      Julian says, “I often ask my clients how much success they’ve had with securing a corporate partner. They say ‘none’.  I ask, ‘how many proposals have you sent out?’ They say, ‘none’.  And if they have sent out proposals I ask, ‘how many did you follow up on?’ They say, ‘none.’  That’s probably why they don’t have any partners!”

      Finding partners is a numbers game and you need a sales mentality. If you don’t put out the proposals and follow them up, you’ll never get results.

      Julian says, “The single biggest factor for the failure to generate partners is the lack of follow up. Be prepared to make many calls. And be prepared to hear ‘no’ a lot.”

      Finding corporate partners is not easy but it’s doubly difficult if you don’t have a compelling partnership proposal with an outstanding offer to start with.  As the good book says, “In the beginning there was the word, and the word was good,” so make sure yours are and put the time and effort into creating a document that will help close the deal.  And remember, “If you build it, they will come.”

      Key take-outs:

      1. Start writing –  every great partnership begins with a compelling written proposal so start writing and offer as many benefits as you can
      2. Think big – ask for more than what you need so you have room to negotiate
      3. Think long term –  offer clients a 12-month package or even better a two- or three- year package rather than offering one-off partnership option
      4. Send it out – nothing can happen if your proposal sits in a drawer gathering dust.  Commit to completion and to following up
      5. Write well – if you can’t write or don’t have the time, find a professional who can. It’ll be well worth the investment.
    6. 17 Jul 2017 10:36 PM | Anonymous

      It’s not just the hipsters who are fleeing the city for the regions. Conference organisers are increasingly seeking out regional cities as destinations of choice for their next big event.

      One of the hot spots on the radar of savvy conference organisers is Byron Bay. 

      Byron Bay is well known for being the home of celebrities seeking solitude and new-agers seeking nirvana.  But with new five-star resorts being purpose-built for conferences, the region has become the go-to destination for professional conference organisers seeking something new for their clients.

      From sun-drenched, beach-front restaurants to stunningly elevated Hinterland properties, Byron has a wide variety of venues to suit all functions and conference requirements.  Few locations in Australia, or the world, can match the beauty of Byron.

      The ease of getting there makes it particularly attractive.

       “The Gold Coast has traditionally been the location for conferences but with Byron Bay just 45 minutes from the Gold Coast airport and 30 minutes from Ballina airport, PCOs should really consider Byron Bay as a conference destination,” says Jen Murphy, the Executive Officer from the Byron Business Events Bureau.

      Jen is an expert at helping associations get the most bang for their conference buck.

       ““We are a one-stop-shop for PCOs or associations and our sole purpose is to help them manage their conference.  We can book accommodation for delegates, organise travel and airfares, find speakers, deal with logistics for trade exhibitions, and much more.  In essence, we provide PCOs with a range of conference experts at no extra cost,” says Jen.

      They’ll even help you put together your conference tender document and give you tips on how to win the bid.  Their assistance doesn’t stop there. They also help associations generate new revenue by providing them with access to a 10% commission on their room blocks. 

      “We know that associations may want to offer a range of different hotels to their delegates but trying to ‘room-block’ multiple hotels can be a headache. If their delegates would like to book the accommodation directly, we provide the association with a one-stop-booking portal and this enables delegates to choose from a range of hotels and the association still receives the ‘room-block’ commission,” said Jen.

      Regional destinations are attractive but they are often overlooked because they can’t accommodate the big numbers that some conferences attract.

      “We can offer the best of both worlds. Our 5-star resorts like Elements of Byron and The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa provide that intimate experience for small-to-medium sized conferences but we also have a world-class sports stadium that can seat up to 2,000 delegates. The stadium also offers a massive lawn area which is perfect for trade shows, exhibitions and other large-scale events,” says Jen.

      If the purpose of your conference is to help delegates find a fresh new way to doing things, then what better place to do it from than Byron Bay.   It’s where ideas are born.

      Key take outs:

      1. Delegates often decide to attend a conference based on where it is held so choose a destination you know your delegates will love
      2. Research local business bureaus to see what assistance they can offer you
      3. Ask your business bureau if they can help you generate revenue through room blocking.
    7. 17 Jul 2017 10:08 PM | Anonymous

      If you’re running a conference for your association and you don’t use a PCO to manage the event, here’s one little-known tip that could make your association significant extra revenue from your delegate’s accommodation booking.  

      Here’s how to use ‘room blocks’ to generate revenue for your association:

      Most hotels pay a commission (usually 10%) for every block of rooms Professional Conference Organisers (PCO) book for a conference. They pay this to the PCO in return for the PCO managing the room block.

      If you are managing the room block for your conference then you are entitled to ask for the same commission for undertaking the same work as a PCO would do.

      Here’s how it works:

      Let’s say your delegates will need to book 600 room nights for a conference (200 rooms for 3 nights). You ring up the hotel, ask to ‘room-block’ 200 rooms and then ask for the 10% commission that they would normally pay the PCO or travel agent. You then coordinate with the hotel the process for managing that block of rooms.

      How much could you make for your association?

      This is when it gets interesting.

      On a three-night stay for 200 people at $200 per night that would generate a $120,000 in room fees.  If you got 10% of that, you would make $12,000. So it is something worthwhile exploring further. 

      The extra funds could be used to pay for a higher profile speaker, run an extra day for your executive team or for marketing and promotion.

      What if the hotel says ‘no?’

      If the hotel says ‘no’ or they insist that only PCOs can receive the commission, you should feel confident that you have the right to ask for it. Particularly if you are managing the room block yourself.

      What if we are using a PCO to run our conference?

      If your PCO is managing your room block then they will very likely be earning a commission for this. Good PCOs will be upfront about this commission. Many associations are happy to allow this as it reduces fees they need to pay to the PCO.

      In other situations, the management of the room block may be particularly time consuming and associations are happy for the PCO to earn the commission to save them having to invest that time themselves.

      However, if you are undertaking work around the management of the room block you can request a portion of that commission. Whether this will be possible will depend on your contract with the PCO.

      Be aware that the hotel may say it’s only available to those with an IATA (travel agent licence number) but that’s not strictly true. You hold the cards so let them know that if they’re not prepared to pay you the commission, you’ll go to a venue that will.

      What are the risks – and how do we reduce these?

      If you choose to use this revenue generation tool it is important you are prepared to proactively manage the room block. This means you are responsible for filling the rooms you have reserved - or paying for them yourself.

      To reduce this risk, when negotiating your contract with the accommodation provider you can negotiate specific dates where you can “release” some, or all, of the rooms as the date for the conference draws closer. Once agreed these dates are not flexible so be sure to advise the venue prior to the agreed date if you wish to release rooms.

      This article has one provided a brief overview of this opportunity. Here is a link to a Guide to Room Block Management produced by experient. While US-centric, it provides a comprehensive overview of the concept with some excellent tips and ideas.

      Key take outs:

      1. Don’t be afraid to ask for ‘room block’ commissions – hotels are used to PCOs asking for it. You can too.
      2. Start planning early – the sooner you can lock in key dates with the venue, the more predisposed they’ll be to offering you a ‘room block’ commission
      3. Be prepared to have to do some work to generate the commission. Many hotels require your manage your own room block to earn the commission.
    8. 17 Jul 2017 10:04 PM | Anonymous

      With digital disruption on our doorstep, every business is under threat, but when budgets tighten the first expense to go is often an association membership. So how does an association stay relevant and become a ‘must have’ not a ‘might have’ if times get tight.

      “The best way to stay relevant,” says Belinda Moore, Australasia’s foremost membership specialist, “is to get really clear about what value you offer to your members.  It’s about creating a point of difference that others aren’t offering.”

      The Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) is a great example of an association that was under competitive pressure and invented a benefit that became valuable to their members. Arthur Burt, IPA’s Executive General Manager (Member Growth) was the man behind the idea.

       “As an accountancy association, we have the CPA and CA as our major competitors. They are much bigger than us, with deeper pockets so we had to think outside the box on how we could be of more value to our members, without incurring extra costs.” he said.

      The IPA researched what their members needed and discovered that what they really wanted was a new source of revenue.  But how can you invent that out of thin air, without incurring extra expenses? Their research revealed another interesting fact.

      “Our research showed that what the clients of accountants most fear was not just getting audited but the cost of being audited. So, we did some brain storming and posed the question: ‘What if IPA offered accountants an insurance service that would cover the cost of the accountancy fees if their clients were audited by the ATO?’”

      The genius in the idea was that IPA recommended the accountant send a letter with the audit offer asking the client to sign it if they didn’t want to take up the insurance.

       “This opt-out approach is very clever,” says Belinda, “because firstly it draws attention to the issue and asks the client to really consider what they are rejecting.  The letter also makes the client feel that their advisor is looking out for them. And lastly, it gives the accountant a reason to get in touch with their client with a ‘feel good’ service rather than a bill from them or the tax office.”

      Arthur Burt says, “The audit insurance not only generates revenue for the accountant but it also gives certainty to their client that if they do get audited, the fees will not cripple their business.”

      If your association is under threat or it just seeks to offer more value to its members, take a leaf out of the IPA book and think about what your members really need and brainstorm creative ways to help them get it.

      Key take outs:

      1. Have a reality check – is your association as relevant as it once was? If not, maybe it’s time to review your new member benefits.
      2. Do your research – find out what the needs of your members really are.
      3. Run an innovation workshop for your team and members to devise new and creative ways you can add value.

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