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ASAE Leadership Retreat Summary: Key Learnings on Member Engagement

Posted By Paul Hanscom, CAE, Tuesday, June 25, 2019

This year’s American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Leadership Retreat focused on methods for engaging members deeper into the professional community. We discussed “the power of purpose” as a compelling way to communicate why a professional should join and engage in an association. Association membership and engagement promotions should have as their underpinning a strong “why” message related to the individual’s ability to contribute to the greater cause being championed by the profession. This connects the individual’s personal mission for having chosen this profession for him/herself to the mission of the organization and its ability to serve as a vehicle for personal/professional fulfillment. If your association has a strong cause-related mission, you should focus on the need for each professional to commit to “advance our profession’s impact on [insert important societal challenge that the profession aims to address].” Associations must go deeper than this as well. A cogent message needs to be accompanied with examples of how your association manifests this message throughout its activities and member benefits. For example, frame the annual conference as a forum to bring together the most influential, innovative, and successful minds in the profession to shape its future. Articulate how participating in part of an online learning series will empower an individual with a clear understanding of the issues impacting practices in the profession and tools to address them. Describe how participants in the online discussion group lead the conversation about topics shaping the next stage/future of the industry and accompany this with testimonials.

The “Staff/Volunteer Dyad”

A strong relationship between staff and association leaders is critical to the success of a member engagement plan. A key component to this relationship is clarity of roles. Associations should have written chairperson position descriptions that include delineation of what the chair/committee is responsible for and what s/he can count on staff to provide (staff will… volunteer will…). Staff need to entrust areas of industry subject matter expertise to the association leaders and association leaders must respect the specialized knowledge, expertise and talent of the staff. Having someone “from the profession” in a staff position comes with positives and negatives. It can be a faster, more dependable source for content and industry perspective but there must be an expectation that the individual has significant time dedicated to garnering feedback from industry leaders and is not the sole source for content ideas, insights and guidance.

A recommendation toward achieving more overt and intentional attention to member engagement on an ongoing basis was to change the “Nominating” committee to the “HR Committee” responsible for identifying resource needs and the recruitment, engagement and assessment of all unpaid human resources to address those needs. The HR Committee is complemented by a “Council of Future Practices” that reviews industry data through the lens of the association. The Council of Future Practices provides a report to the board of directors based on industry data and their individual/combined experience. This report serves as a forecasting guide to portend the impact that trends are expected to have on the profession and what the association should do to address this. Once the board determines the action the association should take and whether to resource with staff or volunteers, the HR Committee begins its work anew.

Assessment

Measuring volunteer performance is the best way to optimize a volunteer-dependent system. That being said, ASAE leadership agreed that insufficient metrics exist for tracking volunteer performance/engagement. A model based on HR best practices would make sense — but none of the association leaders engaged in the discussion had a working model to share.

Rather than attempting to tackle the problem at once, it was recommended that associations start with a “Simple Assessment” solution:

  1. Have chairperson rank each volunteer’s performance on a scale of 1-3
  2. Have staff liaison rank each volunteer’s performance on a scale of 1-3
  3. Average the two and give feedback to each volunteer (most in writing; conversation where necessary)

Six Drivers of a Quality Volunteer Experience:

  1. Quality of staff coordinating their activity
  2. Receptivity of staff to give their input consideration
  3. Quality of orientation/introduction
  4. Quality of the volunteer leadership
  5. Ability to debate/discuss issues
  6. Time and timing

Orientation Questions

  1. Why are you choosing to engage further?
  2. What gifts do you have to offer to the organization?
  3. What do you want to gain through further engagement?
  4. What don’t you want to do as you get more involved in the organization?

4 levels of volunteerism (example from ISACA):

  1. Micro: one-time tasks
  2. Short-term/limited: e.g. support for an event or publication
  3. Annual commitment: serve on the XYZ Committee
  4. International/Local Governance

Below is an example Volunteer Engagement Model that was shared from R.A.P.S. using the Higher Logic online community tool:

Volunteer Engagement Model

 

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Innovation from Within: A Focus on Mission-driven Work

Posted By Brian Fewell, Friday, December 14, 2018
Updated: Friday, December 14, 2018

By Arzu Alimohd, Assistant Account Executive, and Paul Hanscom, CAE, Vice President of Growth Strategies

Paying close attention to the strategic plan can help a board or committee reach new goals.

It is easy for a board of directors, committee, or other governing body to fall into a cyclical work pattern year after year. Most organizations operate on an annual schedule that includes budget approval, nominations and elections, orientation, and other essential governance functions. When leaders are caught up in the cadence of addressing tactical governance practices, they run out of time and attention for important conversations about strategic-level goals, industry trends and innovative initiatives that have the potential to augment and perpetuate the organization’s value proposition.

Dynamic Agendas and Meeting Content
While a predictable meeting schedule is practical and efficient for a governing body, the agenda and content of the meeting must be made dynamic. Financial, status and year-end reports are important to ensure the overall stability and growth of an organization, and an innovative board will discuss each of these within the context of whether the activities being reported upon are aligned with and advancing the mission and vision of the organization. Those that succeed in staying focused on the strategy-level implications of the organization’s initiatives dedicate time to assess their efficiency and impact. This assessment can yield gains in both areas.

The Benefits of Introspection
Boards must be willing to remain flexible and adaptable to unforeseen circumstances (be they challenges or opportunities) as they may arise. The board of directors takes a high-level view of the organization’s overall role in relation to collaborative partners and industry trends. This makes it easy to become displaced from operations within the organization. It is rare and too-often perceived as cavalier for an individual or governing body to question the direction/need of a long-standing initiative or introduce something that is completely new or unproven. Innovative board leadership demands introspection about whether to create, continue, or eliminate initiatives that help, hinder or simply do nothing for the organization. This all starts and continues with effective and productive meetings.

Building in consistent time to review, analyze and discuss mission-driven goals will enhance the value of board meetings and, by extension, the organization’s leadership and relevance to the professionals it aims to serve. There are many ways to maintain strategic focus while monitoring and evaluating operational performance. Build a brief strategic plan review into every agenda. Invite a different committee leader to each board meeting to provide an update on progress and strategy alignment. Set aside time each meeting to articulate the connection between a specific initiative and a need the industry is facing; if board members cannot do this effectively in the insulated security of a board room, how can they be expected to do so as ambassadors of the organization when meeting with members in the professional community at large?

Conclusion
In the end, the organization and what it represents are what draw industry leaders and members together. Keeping this in focus throughout the year brings all the important activities of your organization together.

For more tips on how to build an exceptional board, download the 12 Principles of Governance that Power Exceptional Boards.

Arzu Alimohd joined Ewald Consulting in 2016 and is an Assistant Account Executive in our Association Management Department. She can be reached at arzua@ewald.com or at 651.290.7483.

Paul Hanscom, CAE, who joined Ewald Consulting in 2004, is Vice President of Growth Strategies. He can be reached at paulh@ewald.com or at 651.290.6274.

We want to hear from you! Email your feedback to us about Ewald Advantage or any aspect of your Ewald Consulting experience.

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Board Member Term Limits: Pros and Cons

Posted By Katie Wallstein, Monday, October 22, 2018

Are term limits a good fit for your organization? These considerations can help you make a sound determination.

Conversation around the pros and cons of board terms is not new to the nonprofit world. While there are strong arguments both for and against term limits, a majority of organizations opt to adopt them. According to a 2017 study, Leading with Intent: 2017 Index of Nonprofit Board Practices, 72 percent of boards have set term limits — with the most common configuration being two three-year terms. Despite these findings, term limits do not work for every association; some find strength in keeping a strong core of tenured board members.

A synopsis of reasons for and against the practice of board member term limits follows:

Pros:

  • Term limits encourage new talent acquisition, which is essential for the long-term health of the organization.
  • Board composition/diversity (skillset, perspectives, networks) is strengthened to meet the current and future needs of the organization.
  • Term limits reduce the likelihood that a board or board member becomes tired and loses vigor.
  • Limited terms encourage focused participation.
  • New board members are more likely to speak up with new ideas.
  • A board with term limits helps to avoid a potential concentration of power among tenured volunteers.
  • When terms are staggered, it provides balance and continuity.
  • There is a respectful and effective system for the exit of inactive, unproductive or potentially troublesome board members.
  • As the board turns over, it cultivates a broad base of dedicated volunteers, involving more of your members.

Cons:

  • Organizations may experience a loss of institutional memory and historical knowledge.
  • Organizations may lose dedicated, highly effective, tenured volunteers.
  • Succession planning takes time (identification, recruitment, orientation, continuous development).
  • Boards need to allocate additional time to build cohesiveness among board members.
  • Network relationships that may have been tied to a specific board member may be difficult to maintain.
  • There may be disruption to the oversight and operations of an organization.
  • Some associations experience difficulty in filling open board seats.

Conclusion

Regardless of where an organization falls on the matter, it is important that leaders are familiar with best practices on term limits to ensure the longevity and relevancy of their organization.

Katie Wallstein joined Ewald Consulting in 2014 and is an Account Executive in our Association Management Department.

We want to hear from you! Email your feedback to us about Ewald Advantage or any aspect of your Ewald Consulting experience.

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Five Tips for TRULY Taking Your Association Global

Posted By Murphy Pickett, Wednesday, October 18, 2017

As the need continues to grow for international and intercultural business skills, many associations find themselves ideally positioned to support their members and expand their services in an increasingly global market. This presents leaders with both opportunities and challenges as they grapple with the question of how best to take their association truly global, beyond North America.

Here are five tips to help inform your discussion about the best way to expand your association’s presence internationally or globally: 

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​ Conference Marketing: 9 Emails and When to Send

Posted By Murphy Pickett, Thursday, September 28, 2017

 

Conference Marketing: 9 Emails and When to Send 

By Paul Hanscom, CAE, Vice President of Marketing & Business Development

A marketing-savvy association should send nine different emails to boost attendance at its annual conference — and there are specific times when these messages can have the greatest impact. The attached document shares exactly what emails will give you that desired boost. 

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Conference Recap: Last-Minute Excursion to Singapore

Posted By Murphy Pickett, Thursday, August 31, 2017

Conference Recap: Last-Minute Excursion to Singapore

 

Bridget Fox, one of our fantastic Meeting Planners, shares a recap of her recent (very last-minute) excursion to Singapore for the IMA Annual Conference. Ewald Consulting is so lucky to have such a dedicated employee as Bridget, who was willing to go with the flow. This conference was a success, thanks in part to her.

IMA spent four days at the Shangri La Singapore just a few blocks off Orchard Street. Most of the meetings and evening events took place in the Shangri La. The opening reception took place in a beautiful space located along some of their outstanding gardens, designed with perfection.

The second night of the conference was an absolute blast. Every member was invited to the local RedDot Brewhouse for a delicious dinner. With a laidback atmosphere and enjoyable company, this evening proved to be very fun for members to catch up and network outside the official conference venue.

This was the first conference where we had simultaneous translation in English and Mandarin for all sessions. This new asset was a great way to include each and every member, making sure all could participate and feel connected to this outstanding association. IMA had many well-known and respected presenters from the industry.

After a busy four days, the conference ended with a formal awards ceremony held at the Shangri La. Six awards were given to organizations from around the world for their work with magnesium — including Yamaha, University of Oxford, FGS Technology, Advanced Materials Institute and General Motors.

Singapore was a phenomenal host for this conference. Many of the attendees came from nearby countries in Asia and many others from Europe and the United States. Singapore’s culture, hospitality and generosity made the experience unique and overwhelmingly successful.

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A Reflection on Successful Growth as a Sales Associate

Posted By Murphy Pickett, Thursday, August 17, 2017
Updated: Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Reflection on Successful Growth as a Sales Associate

Natalie Muench

 

For about two years, I had the pleasure of working at Ewald Consulting in a variety of functions ranging from Sales to Government Relations to the “Guac-Off” Coordinator. In the various roles that I took on, I’ve benefitted from the countless opportunities that this company has offered. After reflecting on the growth and changes that have occurred during this time, I wanted to take a moment to share the biggest takeaways from my experience as a young professional at Ewald Consulting.

1. Set goals and exceed expectations

If you’re not challenging the status quo and adapting to current industry trends, you’ll become obsolete. Fast. The best way to increase your unique value proposition is to contribute to the continuous development of your position, department, and company. As a Sales Associate, I witnessed our young department crush our projected annual revenue by almost $1 million. That didn’t happen by accident. By setting short- and long-term goals per client, each individual on the team understood their specific role in achieving agreed-upon expectations. No matter your role or the task at hand, be creative. Set goals, and make your work meaningful and valuable; chances are you’ll end up with a sense of fulfillment, both personally and professionally.

2. Embrace rejection

In sales and government relations it isn’t uncommon that people you speak with are not going to immediately buy into what you’re saying. When people get rejected, a common reaction may be to run away, freeze up, carry a sense of embarrassment or avoid the situation again by whatever means necessary. As one may imagine, none of these reactions are particularly constructive as a Sales Associate or Lobbyist, as rejection and negotiation come with the territory. How do you maintain your composure when you might get rejected… three…four… five or more times in any given day? Embrace it.

First, force yourself to stay in the situation. Take a breath. Second, acknowledge the other’s context. Acknowledge misconceptions that may have contributed to their rejection, and the consequences of their inaction. Last, ask questions. Is price a barrier? Does your solution not meet the other’s needs? Is the suggestion just plain difficult to understand? By asking one to reflect on their challenges, goals, and plans, you can adapt your offering to a more personalized solution. If you’re willing to learn from them and adapt to their needs, you might just change their mind… or get a free burger refill.

3. Invest in your organization

Throwing money at a problem or looking for short-term fixes likely won’t achieve your desired long-term results. True successes come from significant investments of time, collaboration, resources and effort. As an employee, or member of an organization, most of us are guilty of asking the question, “How will this organization/job opportunity serve me?” This is not without good reason. However, the more important question should be: “How do my skills best serve this community?” The answer is simple: professional development is a two-way street. Successful communities and their members adapt and grow together. In order to get the most out of any job opportunity, membership or volunteer position, leverage your strengths and adapt to fit the role.

Additionally, this question shouldn’t be limited to quantitative outcomes. When reflecting on my experience at Ewald Consulting, some of my proudest contributions can’t be summarized by the amount of revenue captured for our clients, total percentage growth or hours spent. Instead, my mind sticks to the sense of accomplishment I felt when I helped my department embrace new software, when I resurrected the employee Guac-Off competition or contributed to the Funky and Freshatmosphere of the Sales Department during inter-office Nerf wars.

Ultimately, I wouldn’t have been able to learn any of these lessons without the creative, effective and fun atmosphere of Ewald Consulting. I hope these takeaways shine some light on how to persevere and find success (even on your 100th day of rejection), but also highlight how to make the most of the unique opportunity you have by working with a company like Ewald Consulting. Good Luck! 

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Ewald Government Relations and Media Relations ​

Posted By Murphy Pickett, Monday, July 31, 2017
Updated: Monday, July 31, 2017
Ewald Government Relations and Media Relations

By Valerie Dosland, Director of Government Affairs

 
The Ewald Consulting Government Relations and Media Relations team consists of seven staff who provide a variety of government relations and media relations services to Ewald Consulting clients. Our team works diligently each and every day to promote The Ewald Consulting mission while representing Ewald Consulting’s values. They are a core aspect of our company and aid in our annual success and achievements.
 
Government Relations
In addition to direct lobbying, services we provide include legislative platform development, grassroots and grass tops outreach, coalition building, bill drafting, preparation of testimony and testifiers, political action committee administration, community relations and client communication.

 

Media Relations
Services we provide include media planning, development of material (such as press releases and talking points), events, spokesperson training, monitoring of news clips, social media, and crisis communication.
Each of our staff members have previous experience as legislative staff members inside the state capitol and provide a broad range of skills to our lobbying team. We are well-respected at the capitol and produce great results for our clients.
 
The Ewald Consulting Government Relations and Media Relations team include:
 
Becca Pryse heads up our department as Executive Vice President. At Ewald since 2005, she provides overall direction and guidance on our lobbying and media relations work. 
 
Valerie Dosland, Director of Government Affairs, has been with Ewald for over 12 years. Her lobbying work focuses on the areas of early childhood and E12 education.
 
Jess Myers, Director of Media and Public Relations, has been with Ewald since 2011. He provides media and public relations services for our corporate and association management clients.
 
Patrick Lobejko, Government Relations Consultant, has been with Ewald since 2013. His lobbying work focuses on early childhood and health and human services. 
 
Troy Olsen, Government Relations Consultant, has been with Ewald since 2015. His lobbying work focuses on local government, taxes and transportation.
 
Owen Wirth, Government Relations Assistant, has been with Ewald since 2015; he provides a variety of support to our team including our client e-newsletter, Ewald at the Capitol.
 
The incredible Government Relations and Media Relations team strives for successful results and takes wonderful initiative when it comes to any and all projects thrown at them. If you’re interested in working with our team, send your résumé to beccap@ewald.com for more information.

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A Basic Guide to Listservs

Posted By Murphy Pickett, Thursday, July 6, 2017
Updated: Thursday, July 13, 2017
Listservs can simplify communication among association members and help build a strong community. But what exactly is a listserv? How does it function and what does it provide for members? Is a listserv the right solution for your organization? Our newest blog covers all these topics and more, simply click on the attached image below for a detailed guide on listserv. 

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Ideas on Effective Communication with Volunteers

Posted By Murphy Pickett, Friday, June 9, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Ideas on Effective Communication with Volunteers

By; Jess Myers

 
In many of the most-respected associations and organizations, dedicated and talented volunteers are the underlying reason for that success. It’s their passion for the association that drives things like membership increases, fiscal health and well-attended conferences.
As an association leader, one of the vital roles you play is in keeping those volunteers engaged, involved and in touch with what is happening and how their work makes a difference. Recognition and appreciation of volunteers is crucial, to make sure they know that their gifts of time and talents are noticed and valued. But just as important can be communication with those volunteers, to let them know you’re in touch, you’re available, and their opinions and inputs are being heard.
In the modern era of traditional and social media, there are myriad avenues available to ensure that volunteers are being heard and that two-way communication is happening. Here are some ideas for effective communication with your association’s valued volunteers:
  • Social media accounts: Most people have a presence on popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. In addition to being a great place to share personal news and opinions, social media groups specific to your association or your sub-group within that organization can be established. This allows for volunteers to share news and other offerings specific to the organization within an exclusive group. Set up a group-specific Twitter handle that volunteers can follow. Establish a Facebook page for your volunteer group. Post news relevant to the group there. Share photos from association events. Make it fun, and let volunteers know they are part of something valuable.
  • Phone or video conferences: Written communication is great, but seeing faces and hearing voices is important from time to time. Establishment of a regularly-scheduled conference call or video link (using a service such as Skype) is a great way for volunteers to hear and see one another, share opinions, air concerns and communicate more clearly. It’s also a great forum for recognizing and thanking volunteers publicly for their contributions. These calls need not be overly long – most should not take more than 30 minutes – but having them at a regularly-scheduled time can often allow for greater participation.
  • Email blasts: We all check out email, seemingly hundreds of times per day. In less than two decades, it has become the way that communication happens. A regularly-scheduled email update to volunteers about what’s happening, what’s coming up and who is doing great work is an excellent way to keep groups engaged and involved. Depending on the frequency of the communication, the length of an email blast need not be more than a few paragraphs – something that volunteers can read in a relatively short setting, to get a reminder of their group’s activities and their value in the big picture.
Keeping dedicated volunteers involved and active is vital. Making sure they are engaged and informed through various methods of communication is key to make your association a success.

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KNOWLEDGE & RESOURCES

MANAGEMENT | View all Management articles
A Successful Year Starts with a Solid Budget by Bill Monn
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MARKETING | View all Marketing articles
9 Marketing Ideas for Your Organization by Kathie Pugaczewski
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MEMBERSHIP | View all Membership articles
A Holistic Approach to Membership Recruitment by Darrin Hubbard
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VOLUNTEERISM | View all Volunteerism articles
Three Ways to Stronger Volunteer Engagement by Paul Hanscom
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