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Association Finances

Posted By Murphy Pickett, Thursday, September 22, 2016
Updated: Monday, November 14, 2016

As we all know, finances are a crucial aspect of nearly every association. As the season becomes busier and busier, make sure you are up to date with everything going on in your finance department. What can you do protect, aid, and implement positive change for your association as a whole, but also in the finance area specifically?  

You may have missed this piece on Association Finances and how to protect them. There are plenty of resources available to you in order to keep your financial department on track. Read more here to discover ways to keep your finances safe. http://bit.ly/2bJsHwW

 

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Recapping Board Performance: Practice Meets Strategy

Posted By Murphy Pickett, Thursday, September 8, 2016
Updated: Thursday, September 22, 2016

On August 31, I attended the Board Performance: Practice Meets Strategy event co-hosted by Association Forum and Association Management Center. This session was promoted as “key strategists will share corporate lessons learned and how their experiences translate into organizational performance in the association community,” and that was what piqued my interest. We do quite a bit of work on strategic planning with our clients and I was curious as to how the planning process and implementation in corporate America differs from the non-profit industry. I also wanted to learn what strategies could translate to help improve the implementation of our client strategic plans.

The panel presentation kicked off with speakers Mark Miller, Partner, Performance Improvement Consulting, Ernst & Young, LLP and Carrie Shea, Managing Partner, Phoenix Strategic Advisors, sharing the process they use when working with Fortune 50 corporations. Their process included both an internal and external analysis where the board and senior management consider the following:

        External Analysis                                                                        Internal Analysis

1.     Industry Trends                                                                           Purpose (core values), Vision and Goals

2.     Consumer Trends                                                                       Core Competencies

3.     Competitor Positioning                                                                Structural Assets/Barriers

4.     Technology and Innovation                                                         Financial Positioning

The Board would then go through a process where the strategic initiatives developed during the SWOT Analysis would be vetted and prioritized in order to find 6-8 critical strategic initiatives. From these strategic initiatives, the Board would develop its strategic plan that cascades down throughout the company and divisions. It was noted that often the planning process will involve staff at all levels to get buy-in and help identify core issues/ideas from each level of the organization.

A few key takeaways I got from this part of the presentation:

  • Many of our groups follow a similar process, where a SWOT analysis is conducted, strategic initiatives are developed and prioritized, and a formal strategic plan is adopted. Rarely, though, do we have a group that takes a month or several months to complete the process. The process is usually condensed into a half-day, one-day or two-day meeting.
  • In most cases, corporate clients are not conducting full strategic planning sessions annually. More commonly, the board will meet and review progress, adjust timelines, revisit initiatives for as the industry evolves.
  • First, start with defining and focusing on core competencies. From there, expand into opportunities that are adjacent to the core and beyond the core. As you move away from your core, the risk increases. Focusing on your core can be difficult to do as new opportunities present themselves.

The program continued with Mitchell Feiger, CEO and President, MB Financial, Inc. Mitch discussed how the strategic planning process works with his Board of Directors and how the strategic planning is communicated and implemented across the 3,000+ employees of MB Financial, Inc. Mitch is in a unique position as he is the only employee to sit on the 11 person Board of Directors.

With the general differences between for-profit and non-profit boards, I found myself thinking about how the board dynamic might change if non-profit boards took a page from corporate America:

  1. Composition – If non-profit boards recruited for talent, knowledge or skills that would help advance the organization rather than having board members elected, how might that change the board process, culture and outcomes for the organization?
  2. Term and decision making – If the resolutions and actions you made as a board stuck with you in perpetuity, rather than your 2-3 year term on the board, how might that affect the board process?
  3. Constituents – If decisions you make were done solely to increase value to shareholders, rather than to the various segments of your membership, how might that change the board deliberations?

Mitch also talked at length about the importance of defining core values and how that influences the corporate culture. MB Financial has a “Culture Committee” that ensures the core values permeate throughout the company. These are the thoughts that were going through my mind during the presentation. I walked away energized, thinking about how to meld the best of both worlds within the governance structure of non-profit organizations.

Finally, Linda Caradine-Pointsett, PhD, MBA, MJ, Account Executive, Association Management Center, and Executive Director, Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists, shared highlights from her doctoral research which focused on organization leadership. An interesting differentiating point between for-profit CEOs and non-profit CEOs came in the discussion about strategic plan leadership. In the for-profit world, the CEO is celebrated for having complete and total ownership of the company strategic plan, whereas in the non-profit world, CEOs often need to tread carefully so as to not overstep the board. Many of the thoughts throughout this piece were introduced during Linda’s presentation.

This session was thoughtfully composed in a logical manner where the corporate process and implementation were discussed as well as the impacts and takeaways for non-profit organizations. The presentation by the panelists was both thought-provoking and practical. This was the second session in a three-part series; the final presentation is in production and will focus on culture. I intend to be there as well.

Tags:  analysis  board  board performance  strategy 

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The Danger of Posting Golden Content During the Olympics

Posted By Erik Hillesheim; Finance and Data Associate, Thursday, August 11, 2016
Updated: Thursday, August 11, 2016

As August rolls in, we Minnesotans not only look forward to the 80 degrees and humid days, cabins, and lakes, but also wait in anticipation for the Olympic games. Around the office, Paul Hanscom can be heard by the distinct scratching of his 5 o’clock shadow in the flicker of his laptop, awaiting the 3 a.m. Olympic medal tally update on CNN.

Spirits are high and people are excited to see the greatest athletes from all around the world gather to compete and embody the international values of friendship, respect, and excellence. For companies and associations alike, marketing departments are looking for ways to leverage the excitement and connect with members and consumers around this awesome community.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), however, says hold your horses, not only to equestrian fans, but also brands and businesses all around the world. By taking an in-depth look at permitted marketing content around the Olympics, the recent changes in rules surrounding this content, and the core of the debate that drove the change in the rules, your association can learn how to leverage the Olympics hype within the restrictions of these new rules.

Official Brand Protection Guidelines, created by the IOC to protect Olympics sponsors, provide a promise to official sponsors like McDonald’s and P&G to safeguard the exclusivity of content surrounding the events. Rules that apply to businesses and associations not sponsoring the Olympics include not using trademarked phrases and/or words as well as references (direct or indirect) to the location of the games including but not limited to the following:

  • Olympian, Olympic, Future Olympian, Olympiad, Paralympics, Paralympiad
  • Gateway to gold, go for the gold
  • Let the games begin
  • Pan Am Games
  • Team USA
  • Road to Rio, Rio 2016

You also can’t modify words to include Olympics in them, such as cinemalympics. Hashtags from the games are prohibited. Using Olympics logos is a no-no. You can’t even reteweet official Olympics accounts or use Olympic athletes in your social posts. Most disappointing to us, however, was that you couldn’t host Olympic-themed contests or events for employees. With all of these restrictions, companies and associations are severely limited in what they can do with their marketing efforts.

This past year, Rule 40 was modified to accommodate brands that aren’t official sponsors of the Olympics. It now allows for Olympic athletes to be featured in general advertising that doesn’t mention Olympics or its intellectual property. Debate has focused on how much this will actually help brands, especially those that don’t have a partnership with someone such as Michael Phelps. With the way that marketing campaigns must be structured under the revision, small businesses and associations have a much tougher time monetarily running one of these campaigns. On the other side of the coin, the IOC is worried about protecting the payoff to its partner brands and the potentially diminishing value of their deals.

Like other brands, your association is probably looking to leverage the Olympics to build your engagement and reach. Working within the boundaries of the Brand Protection Guidelines can be challenging, but here are a few ways that your association can use the Olympics to push awesome content to your current and potential members in case you aren’t already sponsoring Michael Phelps:

Campaign around alternative terms for the games

Because a majority of references to the games aren’t allowed, try referencing the games by using hashtags such as #TheBigEvent or #TheWorldwideStage. This avoids restrictions without sacrificing the connection members will make with your marketing efforts.  

Mobilize creativity quickly on current events

This strategy was possibly perfected by Oreo at the Super Bowl this past year when the power went out. “Power out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark”, connects with Oreo’s audience, doesn’t infringe upon IP of official sponsors, and boosts brand impressions and engagement. While difficult to be this creative AND timely, this can be an extremely effective and inexpensive way to promote your association. With a transportation infrastructure, housing, and drinking water that might not be completely ready for attendees and athletes in Rio, there are bound to be a few surprises. We advise you to always err on the side of caution, especially since these are serious problems and may have direct, and potentially harmful, effects on people. The last thing you want is to pay the price for trying to be too creative.

Create campaigns around ideas that align with the Olympic spirit

Nike’s Greatness Campaign and Under Armor’s Rule Yourself Campaign are great examples. They portray competition, hard work, humility, respect, and diligence, all values commonly associated with the games. Even if you don’t have an Olympic athlete as a brand ambassador, content can be geared, especially via video, to match the persona of the Olympic spirit and connect with members.

 

There’s no better time to put your marketing content in front of such a huge variety of eyes all focused on the same thing. Look to take advantage of this unique event. If you need to get some creative juices flowing, here’s an article with 7 impactful Olympics campaigns. Would your association like a free social media audit and consultation?

Questions around social media best practices?

We’re more than happy to help you draft a small, medium, or large-scale campaign for the Olympics. Feel free to shoot our Marketing Director an email: Katemh@ewald.com. In the most broad and ambiguous terms, “We hope your association’s marketing can find itself on the podium and in the spotlight after #TheBigEventInBrazil this year.”

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Much More than Bean Counters

Posted By Murphy Pickett, Thursday, August 4, 2016
Updated: Thursday, August 4, 2016

Much More than Bean Counters

By Tommy DeMartino; Client Accounting Specialist

 

The Finance Department here at Ewald Consulting is not your typical bunch of bean counters. To best serve our clients, we wear a few different hats. One of our major responsibilities is processing the vast majority of event registrations and membership dues. This task alone involves multiple steps — first, entering the information and payment specifics into our database system; second, entering the payment information into our accounting system (QuickBooks, a financial tool commonly used throughout the world).

 

YourMembership is our online database system — it’s the world inhabited by our clients’ members and many of our co-workers, and it is the face of our clients seen by the rest of the world. The secondary database, QuickBooks, is restricted to members of our Finance department only. Making sure the data entered into both systems are identical is extremely important to the success of our clients.

Yet another system our Finance department uses on a daily basis is our credit card processing website. We partner with Affinipay and have had a successful relationship for many years. Affinipay also has a strong relationship with YourMembership, making our lives much more efficient and easier. The communication between YourMembership and Affinipay is so seamless that our clients’ members don’t even know it exists. Affinipay also works extremely well with QuickBooks. Each month our Finance department downloads credit card payment information into QuickBooks for recordkeeping purposes.

The credit card payment information, along with check payments we receive in the mail daily (then entered into both YourMembership and QuickBooks), combine to provide the income produced by our clients.

Another major aspect to our department’s responsibility is recording as well as paying expenses — bills, invoices, reimbursements, and other types of check requests. These are typically paid via check after being entered into QuickBooks. The other types of payments are recurring monthly credit card payments and wire transfer (money moving from one bank account directly to another electronically). Our Account Executives review these forms of Accounts Payable to indicate where they will be entered and flow into their monthly financial statements. Check payments are mailed weekly for each client.

The final major obligation our department undertakes is compiling our clients’ monthly financial statements. Creating these documents is a more conventional task performed by Finance/Accounting departments across the business landscape. These financial statements, which include the Balance Sheet, Profit/Loss Statements, and Income Statements, provide a numerical view of the client’s health. It also helps our clients’ leadership to plan for the coming years.

 

I hope this post has helped provide an inside look at the Ewald Consulting Finance Department.

 

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Meet the New Employee: Arzu

Posted By Murphy Pickett, Thursday, July 14, 2016

Meet the New Employee: Arzu

 

Ewald Consulting is proud to introduce one of our newest employees, Arzu Alimohd.

 

Arzu recently graduated from the University of Minnesota with a double major in International Relations and Political Science. Arzu plans to contribute everything she can to Ewald and make the most out of the opportunities she encounters along the way.

 

Q: What is your title here at Ewald Consulting?

 

            A: Membership Specialist

 

Q: Now that you are a full-time employee, what, if anything, do you expect will change with your work?

 

            A: As a part-time employee, I did not make many connections across departments. I am excited to work with more employees across departments to not only perfect the membership process for every association, but to collaborate with others to improve membership retention rates and the overall membership quality for all associations to ensure members see the value of joining.

 

Q: What do you love most about your job?

 

            A: Do I have to pick just one? I love that I am a part of a growing department. With the membership department being fairly new (just added in January 2016), I love that I am included in how the department will be structured in the future. Membership is one of the foundations of associations, so it is great to see how much we are doing as well as establishing a solid foundation for Ewald and our clients.

 

Q: Who is your greatest role model? And why?

 

            A: My parents, especially my mother, are my greatest role models. Coming to the United States over 30 years ago with nothing except their desire for a better life, they built their successes from the bottom up. They have gotten three children through college, and always remind us to be thankful for the access to good education. They are the most hard-working people I know.

 

Q: What is one thing most people do not know about you?

 

            A: My parents spelled my name wrong on my birth certificate. My name is supposed to be Arzu, which means wish or desire in Persian. I guess an O and a U can look similar!

 

Q: What made you come to Ewald Consulting?

 

            A: I learned about Ewald from a current intern, Natalie, who raved about how great a company it is. She informed me of a position that was opening, and I worked part-time as I learned the ropes of Ewald Consulting. From the beginning, I learned how unique and driven the company is, so when I found out about a position that was opening in the membership department, I could not help but apply! I talk to someone every week who shows me their dedication to their position and to Ewald. That assures me every week that I have found such a great company with dedicated employees who strive for their goals.

 

Ewald Consulting is lucky to have Arzu as a dedicated and loyal employee. We are confident she will do great things!

 

 

If you’re interested in an employment opportunity here at Ewald, take a look at our postings at http://bit.ly/1Jgh7VQ.

 

 

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New Member Onboarding

Posted By Jason Acord, Membership Specialist, Thursday, July 7, 2016
Updated: Thursday, July 7, 2016

So you just spent the last couple of months preparing materials and strategizing a new member campaign. Now what? Running a successful campaign is just the first step; understanding that the first year of membership is a critical time and can have a strong effect on retention is what follows.

Having a solid new member communication plan is vital and can make or break your chances of retaining a member beyond the first year. Developing key messages that are engaging, effective and actionable and knowing the right time to send them all play a key role in your organization’s success.

When a member joins, respond within 24 hours. A simple email, thanking them for their investment and letting them know an organization leader will be contacting them within the coming day will provide a stronger connection and make the member feel important, because they are. Making sure a new member receives an immediate response will encourage them to open and react to future communications.

Here is a list of best practices for engaging new members throughout the first year:

  • Week one: A welcome email from the membership director or board president.
  • Week two: An email introduction to all membership benefits.
  • Week four: A welcome phone call from a board member or local representative. Use this as an opportunity to encourage them to get involved and attend a local membership networking event or conference.
  • First month: A new member packet describing in detail the membership benefits, local leadership, and upcoming networking and educational opportunities. The packet should also include a welcome letter signed by the board president and vice president.
  • Month Three: A new member survey – two or three questions focused on why they joined.
  • Month Six: Personal invitation to the upcoming conference or other event, highlighting certification (if applicable) and networking opportunities.
  • Month Nine: Reintroduction to member benefits.
  • Month Twelve: New member first year survey — focused on the benefits and opportunities the member took advantage of during the first year and how the organization can enhance the benefits for future members.

During the first few months after joining, new members will determine their level of involvement and decide whether or not an organization is right for them.

For more information regarding new member engagement and developing a new member communication plan, please contact Jason Acord, Membership Specialist for Ewald Consulting at: jasona@ewald.com.

 

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2016 Legislative Session

Posted By Murphy Pickett, Thursday, June 16, 2016

2016 Legislative Session

By: Jess Myers, Media and Public Relations Specialist

 

It’s been said that the legislative session is a marathon, not a sprint. And with meetings over the course of several months, it certainly feels like a 26.2-mile slog at times. Until the final weekend of the session, when that marathon morphs into a mad sprint to the constitutionally-mandated finish line.

 

Such was the case again in 2016, as months of meetings and negotiations boiled down to a frantic final hour before Midnight on the Sunday night in May when, by direction of the state constitution, the legislature had to adjourn.

 

After voting on and passing a capital investment package worth $800 million, the House adjourned Sine Die (the constitutional term for the end of the biennial legislative cycle) at Midnight. But the Senate passed a slightly different version of the same bill, and due to the differences, it cannot become law.

But the session was not devoid of accomplishments. For example, the legislature passed a $182 million budget that included the following:

 

•                $75 million for jobs, energy and equity (including $35 million for broadband expansion and $35 million for racial equity programs)

 

•                $45 million for state government operations

 

•                $25 million for E-12 education

 

•                $25 million for the Department of Public Safety

 

•                $7 million for environment and agriculture

 

•                $5 million for higher education

 

•                $70 million in tax provisions (separate from the funds for the tax omnibus bill)

 

The tax provisions in the budget will provide a one-year extension for the angel investment tax credit, an exemption for military pensions from state taxes, a $2,000 credit for families who have a stillborn child, and eliminates sales tax from modular homes. The supplemental budget bill was passed by both the House and Senate on Sunday, and awaits Gov. Dayton’s signature before becoming law.

 

There were also important changes in education policy that became law, including a universal pre-Kindergarten pilot program for four-year-olds which was a priority for the governor. This proposal establishes a funding formula for school districts that receive this pre-K funding, which will be split between urban, suburban and greater Minnesota school districts, awarded based on poverty rates and the lack of other quality early learning programs in the area.

 

The teacher shortage problem was the focus of many committee hearings this session and the governor, the House and the Senate included efforts to quell the shortage in their priorities. In the end, $7.5 million has been appropriated to a number of initiatives including a loan forgiveness program to individuals who teach in shortage areas, incentives to paraprofessionals to seek their teaching license, and a program to support teachers of color.

 

Another significant provision is the establishment of a six-year, $12 million competitive grant program to help school districts hire additional student support services staff such as school counselors, school psychologists and school nurses.

 

But the failure of the capital investment legislation, a small wording error in the tax bill that could cost the state $100 million in revenue, and the lack of an overall agreement on transportation funding and policy, means there is much work that was not finished, and a special legislative session may be called by the governor sometime during the summer.

 

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Meet the New Employee: Jordan Rezac

Posted By Murphy Pickett, Thursday, June 2, 2016

Meet the New Employee: Jordan Rezac


Ewald Consulting is excited to introduce one of our newest interns, Jordan Rezac!


Jordan is currently a senior at the University of Minnesota, majoring in Communication Studies, planning to graduate in December 2016. Jordan is fun, kind, and has already made a great impact at Ewald.


Q:  What are you most excited about as you start working for Ewald Consulting?


A: I have always wanted to be an event planner, so I am excited to be working in the field I had hoped for. I am also excited to work for a company that values its employees.


Q:  What is your greatest accomplishment to date?


A: I don’t really have any significant accomplishments at this point in my life, besides the typical getting my driver’s license and graduating high school. I would say my biggest accomplishment in the near future will be graduating college a semester early in December.

I have always kept pretty busy. I had two jobs in high school, while also being in sports. I guess that was kind of an accomplishment for me to be able to juggle all of my different schedules. I also have consistently worked about 25-30 hours each week while being a full-time college student.

This semester I am working, taking 20 credits, and commuting an hour to school/work each day. Completing this semester will be a personal accomplishment in itself; only 3 weeks left!


Q:  What hobbies or passions do you practice outside of work?


A: I love spending time with my family and friends. I love when the weather is nice and I am able to be outside. My most recent obsession is my puppy, Laila, a Yorkie. I love taking her for walks and playing with her. I also love doing all sorts of crafts. I am currently in the process of knitting a very large blanket. I started making it over a year ago, so it has been a long project.


Q: How do you plan to make an impact at Ewald Consulting?


A: I hope to make an impact by helping the Event Department further its productivity and take some tasks off of the busy plates of our event planners.

 

If you’re interested in an internship here at Ewald Consulting, feel free to reach out to Kate-Madonna Hindes at katemh@ewald.com.

 

 

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Changes and Trends in Association Management: Technology

Posted By Murphy Pickett, Thursday, May 19, 2016

Changes and Trends in Association Management: Technology 
By: Mary Le, Intern
 
 
There are many changes and trends that affect association management, but none more than technology. Technology is changing how associations engage and communicate with their members in a very real way. Bryan Mowry, an Account Executive at Ewald Consulting, explains how technology is affecting association management.
 
Most notably, technological advances make it easier to engage with members. These advances impact emails, newsletters, and social media. By triangulating these three marketing channels, it makes it easier for associations to bridge the gap between the plugged-in inner circle of staff and volunteers with the otherwise less-connected member. Critical to this outcome is the creation of a two-way conversation. Technology allows organizations to keep members in the loop about what’s going on and provide input and feedback along the way. 
 
Technology also enhances the member and meeting attendee experience. “I see people bring tablets and type notes on their laptops or phones in meetings,” mentions Bryan. “Technology makes it both more convenient and more efficient to communicate for both parties: your members and your leadership.” However, some individuals can be uncomfortable with new technology at first. 
 
“There are some people who are more comfortable with traditional ways of communicating. They miss getting mail, magazines, and newsletters in the mail,” explains Bryan. These same members may feel that by communicating through a screen, there is a loss in personal connection. This is why it is important to add an even greater customized, personal connection when engaging with members electronically. Bryan reminds us that going the extra mile and offering everyone a personal connection goes a long way.  Associations can do this with volunteers and member inquiries by responding with a phone call instead of by email, or thanking volunteers face-to-face at meetings and events.
 
When you have one group that prefers everything be done electronically through technology and one group that prefers everything directly mailed to them, take measures to accommodate both. For example, have a few paper copies of meeting materials on hand to give those who don’t like to use devices. This can allow everyone to feel more engaged and comfortable in a meeting. 
 
If you are interested in learning more about engagement, association management and our services, please visit us at www.ewald.com.

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Meet the New Employee: Murphy Pickett

Posted By Mary Le, Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Meet the New Employee: Murphy Pickett

By: Mary Le, Intern

 

Murphy Pickett is one of newest interns to join the marketing team at Ewald Consulting. Murphy is a sophomore at St. Catherine University studying Communications with a minor in Sales. Some of her responsibilities are social engagement, scheduling posts, and reporting social analytics.

 

Q: What are you most excited about with your internship at Ewald?

 

A: I am most excited about learning new things and getting to experience marketing and communication in a workforce environment.

 

Q: If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to?

 

A: I would definitely travel to 1862 to meet Abraham Lincoln. To me, he is one of the most influential and inspiring presidents our country has seen; he made many decisions that only bettered our society.

 

Q: If you could bring someone back from the dead, who would it be and why?

 

A: I would bring back my family member Tom Burnett, who died during 9/11 on flight 93, sacrificing his life to try and save others.

 

Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?

 

A: In five years, I hope to be thriving in a career I am passionate about and want to succeed in. Five years from now, I hope to be moving toward a more permanent position and aspect of my life so I can position myself for a fruitful future.

 

Q: What are your top five strengths?

 

            A: Harmony, Intellectual, Restorative, Discipline, and Adaptability.

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KNOWLEDGE & RESOURCES

MANAGEMENT | View all Management articles
A Successful Year Starts with a Solid Budget by Bill Monn
Read full article

MARKETING | View all Marketing articles
9 Marketing Ideas for Your Organization by Kathie Pugaczewski
Read full article

MEMBERSHIP | View all Membership articles
A Holistic Approach to Membership Recruitment by Darrin Hubbard
Read full article

VOLUNTEERISM | View all Volunteerism articles
Three Ways to Stronger Volunteer Engagement by Paul Hanscom
Read full article

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