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Your Association Budget is a Living Thing – Nurture It

Posted By Mary Le, Friday, March 18, 2016

Your Association Budget is a Living Thing – Nurture It

By Bill Monn, Vice President of Client Relations

 

To the good fortune of most non-profit professional associations, there are dedicated volunteers who work hard to create a budget each year. Usually this small group of approximately 1-3 individuals appropriately gauges revenues and expenses to meet the needs of the association’s members and presents it to the board of directors. After a tweak here and there, the budget is approved.

Unfortunately, many well-intentioned associations then spend much less time keeping track of their budgets and changes that invariably are needed as the year progresses. I don’t know of any association that can project everything that is going to happen in the next 12 months when it is finalizing its budget. The cost of food at your conference went up more than you projected, more members joined at a higher rate than you thought, the president couldn’t attend a conference that was budgeted because of a schedule conflict – the list goes on.

We suggest that you look at your budget regularly and take note of the variances. A suggestion that is incredibly useful for budget planners is to include line items for “Unbudgeted Revenue” and “Unbudgeted Expense.” This allows keeping track of the “stuff that happens” during the year that too often impacts the numbers but is not documented. This way you and future board members can remember why a certain year was a bit (or a lot) better or worse than projected.

Good treasurers are worth their weight in gold. They are inclusive and approachable. They provide the board with easy-to-understand summaries and recommend areas that may deserve attention. They provide pertinent information and support healthy dialogue. Treasurers who are suspicious of questions, power-driven, or hoard information often bring more negatives than positives to an organization.

A final thought: do a mid-year review and recalibrate your thinking as needed. In plain English, if you over-spent in one area then you need to account for that and spend less in another area. If you earned more than expected, what are the areas where you can still invest this year to advance your mission? This recalibration will help you get to year-end without big surprises and position the association for a more informed budget conversation in the future.

 

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Catering Must Haves: What to remember when providing food and drink at your next event

Posted By Mary Le, Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Catering Must Haves: What to remember when providing food and drink at your next event

By: Mary Le, Intern

 

When it comes to event planning, providing food and drink is a must. However, how do you know what to serve, how much to serve, and how to please your attendees? Katherine Ricker from events gave some great tips about planning a successful event when it comes to providing food and beverages.

 

What to serve? – Base what you serve at events on the client’s budget. The second factor to consider in your decision is the atmosphere and type of event. “If it’s a networking event, then it is ideal to have lighter food that people can eat with their hands,” says Katherine. Another factor to consider is the client’s expectations and what they have in mind. Many people have dietary restrictions, and it is important to provide options and flexibility. Don’t choose options that limit people’s flexibility such as pasta. “A sandwich bar can actually go a long way. People who can’t eat gluten can get rid of the bread and make it a salad,” says Katherine. Not only does this give people options, but it also gives them flexibility.

 

How Much to Serve? - When it comes to estimating the amount of food and drinks to serve, it can be difficult. “People think if they have 25 guests, they need to provide food and drinks for exactly 25 people,” says Katherine. It is best to underestimate a little below the actual number of attendees. Food and drink is an important indicator whether or not people enjoyed the event. It does not look good to the board of an association if there is a large quantity of excess food, because that tells them that the event was not successful

 

Caterers are here to help. - It is important to reach out to the caterers first. Don’t hesitate to ask for help from caterers. They will answer any questions you have whether it’s about staying in your budget or which items to serve. Another reason why caterers are a helpful resource is they are willing to accommodate to dietary restrictions, but it is very important to let them know ahead of time.

 

Communication. - Another important factor is communication. Attendees like to know what is happening. It’s never a bad idea to over-communicate with them When conflicts occur, like the food not arriving on time, make sure to let attendees know.

 

If you are interested in learning more about our meeting and events management please contact Julie Cygan at juliec@ewald.com.

 

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Meet the New Employee: Mary Le

Posted By Mary Le, Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Meet the New Employee: Mary Le

 

Meet one of our newest interns, Mary Le. Mary is currently a sophomore at St. Catherine University studying Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing and Management and an Accounting minor. She is responsible for scheduling all social posts for all clients to ensure all of their content is delivered on schedule. Additionally, Mary is responsible for social engagement, maintaining client’s social presence and fostering meaningful social connections.

 

Q: Why did you want to work at Ewald?

 

A: One of friends interned here and she really liked her experience. She knew I was looking for an internship I could use for credits so she asked if I would like to take her spot once her internship was over. Also, I wanted to intern at a place where I'm actually learning new things that I can't learn in school.

 

Q: What do you want to get out of your time here?

 

A: Besides gaining new skills, I want to see what kind of environment/setting I work best in. I also want to gain the experience of working at an actual business and discovering what I can bring to a company.

 

Q: What are three things you want to do before you die?

 

A: I would love to see my university’s cadaver lab and get the chance to dissect an actual cadaver. The second thing on my list is learning to play an instrument. Then third thing on my list is to visit the Holocaust Museum.

 

Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

 

A: My attention span. I tend to lose focus and get distracted very easily. It’s hard for me to sit still and focus for more than 30 minutes because I tend to get antsy and my mind tends to wander off.

 

Q: What are your top five strengths?

 

A: Restorative, Futuristic, Individualization, Positivity, and Ideation.

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Meet the New Employee: Natalie Muench

Posted By Mary Le, Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Meet the New Employee: Natalie Muench

By: Mary Le, Intern

 

A big Ewald Consulting welcome to our newest intern, Natalie Muench! Natalie is a junior at the University of Minnesota. She is studying Political Science and Global Studies with a minor in management. Natalie is responsible for conducting prospect development, distributing prospect lists and handling many other sales initiatives.

 

Q: Why did you want to come work at Ewald?

 

A: My friend interned here and loved her experience. I definitely love the opportunities here doing sales and association management. I want to see how a consulting firm operates.

 

Q: What do you want to get out of your time here at Ewald?

 

A: Learning as many skills as I can. Getting my feet wet in as many opportunities. Also, just exploring what it means to work for a government relations and association management consulting firm to see if I’m interested in doing in the future for a real career.

 

Q: What has been your biggest challenge so far?

 

A: I’d say spending six weeks in Peru, studying abroad and living with the host family that didn’t speak any English. I booked train, hotels, and everything in Spanish.

 

Q: If you could have any job, what would it be?

 

A: I would work for a travel agency that pays me to go around to luxury resorts and rate them.

 

Q: What are your top five strengths?

 

            A: Futuristic, Strategic, Achiever, Restorative, and Woo.

 

 

Are you interested in becoming an intern at Ewald Consulting? Email: Katemh@ewald.com to learn more. 

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Communication & Technology Trends to Put into Practice Now

Posted By Mary Le, Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Communication & Technology Trends to Put into Practice Now

By Kathie Pugaczewski, CAE, CMP, Vice President Communication, Technology & Professional Development, Ewald Consulting

 

With diminished attentions spans, the proliferation of communication tools/platforms at affordable prices and customers demanding more and faster, there are some key communication and technology trends in the design and data realm that can increase your effectiveness. Pick two or three and dig in. With all that is available, it is tempting to bounce from one thing to the next. Commit to going deeper, staying longer, creating meaning and measuring results.

In the design realm, UX (user experience) is the term of the day. What it really means is can your customers find what they are looking for quickly. The website homepage is the front door to your organization’s “home.” Is it inviting? Do you want to come in and stay a while? Will you keep coming back to gain valuable insights through relevant content that is updated regularly.

Use images that quickly communicate your key messages including photos and illustrations that your customers can identify with and calls to action that will prompt the user to go past the “front door.” Does your navigation make sense? Can you simplify it? Like our closets, we often keep items “we may use someday,” create piles and stack stuff rather than organizing and removing things that are dated and that we don’t use any more. Merge, purge and put the most important, up-to-date and frequently used items up front and easily accessible for your customer.

For new customers to find you and for your current ones to keep coming back, updating content frequently and “labeling” content is key to an effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy. The key components of good SEO include site layout, keyword research, title tags, meta-descriptions, header tags and content that’s relevant and updated often. SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. In addition to your website, you can cross-deliver content through a blog, YouTube videos, social media channels and, of course, email.

The merging of design and data is one of the most important trends that should become a standard practice for your organization. There are several Content Management Systems (CMS) and Marketing Automation Systems that are now available and affordable that offer design and data functionality. Data allows you to understand your customers at a deeper level and to deliver services and products that are meaningful. You can now easily send personalized emails, searchable directories and “micro” campaigns targeted to specific groups based on demographics and interests. This tells your customers that you understand them at a whole new level.

The last trend to consider implementing is the use of infographics – the ultimate merging of design and data into a visually inviting and data rich content communication tool. For great examples of infographics and to learn a lot more about communication and technology trends, go to: http://webmag.co/category/infographics/.

An impactful communication and technology strategy is truly a combination of art and science, discipline and focus. It is a very exciting time filled with opportunities that are within reach. Start now.

Questions or feedback, email kathiep@ewald.com

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Meet the New Employee: Drew Kelsh

Posted By Mary Le, Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Meet the New Employee: Drew Kelsh

By: Mary Le, Intern

 

At Ewald, we’re getting ready to embrace the NEW, including many coworkers that have recently joined Ewald Consulting!  One of our newest interns to join our team is Drew Kelsh. Drew is one of our marketing interns who specializes in content.

 

Drew is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota, majoring in Strategic Communication with an emphasis on Public Relations. Drew is responsible for content curating for all of our social clients, to ensure that only the best content for our clients is distributed on all social media platforms. He is a laid back, creative, fun, and thoughtful guy.

 

Q: Why did you want to work at Ewald?

 

A: I wanted a genuine, rewarding, and challenging intern experience. I feel like I haven't had that in awhile. I want to develop myself as a team member, an individual, and as a leader. Also, I want to improve my current skills and explore new skills. I know what my skills are, but I want to apply them at Ewald and see what skills am I actually good at.

 

Q: What do you want to get out of your time here at Ewald?

 

A: I want to have a good understanding of who I am and how I work in a professional setting. I want to determine my value at a company and I think Ewald will help with that. I also want to develop meaningful relationships and connections here.

 

Q: What does your perfect day look like?

 

A: Probably waking up at 10 am. Making a pot of coffee, sitting on my laptop, mixing some beats, and making music all day. Then go for a walk to reflect on my day.

 

Q: What does your life say about you?

 

A: I like to have thoughtful conversations. I like to read non-fiction books, about what someone thinks. I’m a current events/politics kind of guy.

 

Q:  What are your top five strengths?

 

A: Woo, Positivity, Ideation, Activator, and Inclusiveness.

 

 

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Sponsorships, Sales and Moving the Needle… Blake Finger – Marketing and Sales Coordinator for Ewald Consulting

Posted By Mary Le, Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Sponsorships, Sales and Moving the Needle…

Blake Finger – Marketing and Sales Coordinator for Ewald Consulting

Does your association miss out on securing additional sponsorships? Is your association experiencing opportunities to secure additional sponsorships or advertisers, but not enough time or people to handle the sales process? Having a concentrated sales effort will help increase your association’s numbers, bring in new business, and strengthen the relationship between you and your vendors. Companies want to be a part of and have exposure through your association; it just takes a timely effort in contacting the right person at the right time.

Over the past 11 months, Ewald Consulting has implemented a sales process for a variety of clients. We have found that there has been both success in increasing the sales numbers and strengthening of relationships between the associations and the sponsors, vendors, and advertisers. Ewald Consulting’s sales team found a winning strategy that has expanded our sales efforts, increased the sponsor, exhibitor and advertiser numbers, and helped build relationships between the companies and the associations we manage.

Securing new business and renewing last year’s sponsors is not a short term process. It takes a concentrated effort, with multiple touch points, through a variety of channels. It’s not as simple as sending a few emails and waiting for the vendors to respond. It takes an informative introduction email, followed by numerous follow-up actions by phone and email; and even in-person meetings to secure the deal.

If you have questions about how a concentrated sales team can help your association, please contact Paul Hanscom at 651-290-6274 or at paulh@ewald.com

 

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Inclusion and Diversity on Boards: Why it Matters

Posted By Mary Le, Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Inclusion and Diversity on Boards: Why it Matters

Have you been following the recent news story of the Academy Awards boycott? In 2016, the Academy has once again failed to acknowledge wildly talented performers of color. The conversation keeps coming up over and over: Who are we leaving behind?

I often use the news as a gut-check. Just last evening, I was in a conversation with a group of individuals on a board discussing how we could make sure the organization was represented by diverse, creative individuals from every background. And then today, I sat down to pen a blog on crisis communication — reviewing the statement of Academy Awards President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. It took a turn when I tied it all together to conversations that I keep hearing. There’s a lesson in public relations crisis management here, but there’s a deeper conversation to be had as well.

Inclusion has been a hot topic in many organizations recently. A thoughtful and game-changing piece on Trickle Down Community Engagement had me walking around the office in short, energetic laps as I explored a new thought with each step. As the Director of Marketing, it’s not only my responsibility to make sure our work garners results for clients, but that our work represents and correctly targets all individuals we seek. In short: We must represent many, not one.

This morning, I asked friends who have chaired organizational boards to help me frame a discussion around inclusiveness and diversity, as my perspective was only one — and I wanted to feature their voices to offer different and powerful perspectives.

 

Why Does Inclusion and Diversity on Boards Matter?

“Boards have the power to influence the undercurrent of organizations' culture, which represent its authenticity, purpose and potential impact. Boards designed with diversity in mind tend to best position the organization to serve out its purpose and community with greatest intent and inclusion of ideas.” – David Wang, Founder of AMP, a platform for curating, elevating and investing.

 

“Boards need to reflect the populations the organization serves. It's not about diversity for diversity sake — that can start to be tokenism real fast. It's about the power of reflective leadership and having people who truly live and understand a mission being the ones in power of that mission.” – Jamie Joslin Millard, Co-Executive Director at Pollen.

 

“If you don't have diversity in the minds and experiences of your board, your organization will suffer from not having access to all the best that culture provides.” – D.A. Bullock, an award-winning filmmaker and Creative Director in the Twin Cities.

 

The best way to develop leadership is to put people in positions of leadership. Diversity on boards is a function of a community being in charge of its own mission, and of making space for new leaders, new styles of leadership and leaders unacknowledged by the dominant culture.” – Carl Atiya Swanson, Director of Movement Building at Springboard for the Arts.

 

“Why wouldn't having the varied perspectives, backgrounds and experiences, particularly of the people the organization purports to serve (and in many cases, does), make for an organization that is more relevant, more responsive, more attuned to the relevance and effectiveness of the org?” – Jun-Li Wang, Community Organizer at Springboard for the Arts.

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A Reflection: Takeaways From My Internship at Ewald

Posted By Drew Kelsh, Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Erik Hillesheim

 

 

This past year I’ve had the amazing opportunity that is being an intern at Ewald Consulting. Ewald is very unique in the sense that an intern is about the last word you’d use to describe everything that they empower their interns to do. I’m very lucky to have worked here, and am excited to return for Ewald Pt. 2 next summer after I travel around Spain and the rest of Europe :-) I wanted to take the time to highlight some of the bigger stepping stone lessons I’ve learned as a young professional during my time at Ewald. Although I learned tons of tangible knowledge about marketing, sales, analytics, data, social media, and graphics, I think even more important is to focus on some of the intangibles that will be integral to my future. Without further adue, here goes...

 

1.    I learned how to cultivate, lead, and sustain a culture of excellence

I was very lucky to have landed in a company with such a great culture and sense of community. At Ewald, we are all about developing our employees and empowering them to excel in whatever they take on. As I’ve had the opportunity to train in new interns and teach seasoned staff, I’ve had excellent mentors here that have helped me discover how to teach and develop others. By instilling confidence in my coworkers and helping them maintain autonomy over their work, we have created intrinsically motivated individuals with a deeply rooted desire to succeed that binds itself to our mission. This confidence has helped our employees take risks by thinking outside of the boundaries of their role and helped lay the foundation for new and improved processes. It begs our employees to ask the hard questions that normally are kicked under the table and to not accept the status quo. Accountability and follow through are never an issue here at Ewald. Along with some of the more serious, hard-hitting stuff, everyone here is truly enjoyable to be around and that makes coming to work a blast.

 

2.    I learned what true, visionary leadership is

Our management team thinks about everything in the right way and does a great job communicating that with all staff. One thing that I’ve become uniquely attuned to is how dialed into the ground level our management is. They are very receptive to criticism and recognize opportunities and problems to exploit them very quickly. They manage relationships within our company, with our clients, with our clients members and volunteers, and with vendors very smoothly. Our CEO, David Ewald, does an exceptional job keeping his mind to the pulse of the external environment and maintaining focus on what is important. They constantly look to refine strategy, mission, and processes so that they best align with what will create organization-wide successes. The team does a great job elevating everyone, including interns, to the horizontal, non-hierarchical structure that exists here. With this mentality, I’ve been able to strategize on company-wide, department-wide, and ground level initiatives. I’ve helped push management to think about and start acting on creating new departments and expanding our service offerings. I’ve been able to think creatively and brainstorm on company strategy and positioning. All of this comes from our management team being open to ideas and investing in the intellectual capacities of their employees.

 

3.    I learned and refined my emotional intelligence and empathy

Simply put, everyone at Ewald is great at working with people. They have set a bona fide example in their communication, thoughtfulness, and team-oriented spirit. Having created a solid foundation in those areas with the help of my coworkers, I’ve been afforded the opportunity to focus on refining the skills of empathy and emotional intelligence in the workplace, a rare opportunity for a nineteen-year-old kid. I’ve become aware of the smaller nuances that coworkers have and I dedicate myself to picking up on social cues that often go unnoticed. I’ve learned that how people present themselves on the surface level is rarely the entire truth, only the mere tip of an iceberg. Trying to understand what people are going through (both at work and elsewhere), empathize with them, and act in a way that helps my coworkers succeed has been really helpful in building a culture that values other people’s priorities, aspirations, and wellbeing. My investment in other people helps me tiptoe around sticky and tense situations, learn more about what truly motivates an individual, and build incredible rapport. I find myself even more motivated and dedicated to Ewald’s mission, being invested in my coworkers. I hope this all has made me a little bit easier to work with.

 

I’d like to thank everyone at Ewald for making the past year a great one. I can’t wait to rejoin you later this summer! For now, hasta luego - tengo que explorar España. 

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The Association's New Year's Resolution

Posted By Emily Le, Wednesday, December 30, 2015

With 2015 in the rear view mirror and the Times Square Ball now dropped, about 147 million Americans affirmed some personal goals for 2016. As the new year has arrived, what aspirations do you have for your association? After years of working with associations, Ewald Consulting has come up with a few stellar New Year's resolutions that your association may want to consider adopting and committing to for continued success through next December.


  1. Review and commit your organization to sticking to your budget

With each new year, we must remember that your association’s budget is a great tool to strategically plan and monitor the finances of your organization, if created correctly. One problem that we see many associations run into is that their budget is based on assumptions and not facts. Always build a realistic budget that reflects what is happening in the organization, not around other goals (i.e.: don’t base your budget off of the idea that you’ll be successful in growing membership 20% this year. Base it on your current membership numbers). Once the budget has been created, keep in mind that it must remain flexible and responsive to opportunities and threats that may emerge during the year. Another way to create an involved budget is to include everyone that it affects. By involving board members, program managers, development staff, finance managers, and executive directors, your organization will be much more likely to stick to your budget.


  1. Review your Board of Directors

As the new year kicks in, it might be a good time to take a look at rejuvenating your board. Often times, a board can benefit from new leadership, even if the current board is doing an okay job. Bringing in some fresh faces and perspectives can spur innovation, renew the organization’s energy, and reemphasize your mission and purpose. By disrupting the status quo, you may push your organization back on the path they have been very slowly moving off of. If you don’t think this is the right course of action for your association, consider investing in a leadership retreat to have the same effect on your current board.


  1. Take a look at your events

How did your events go this year? Were participants especially excited about a certain venue or speaker last year? The new year is a great time to reach out to some of your more active members or to revisit the results of last year’s post-conference survey. Planning the venue at a new and exciting location, bringing in new speakers, or changing up your education sessions are all great places to start thinking about implementing change. With your annual conference being the major touch-point with a majority of your members, it’s pertinent that your organization commit itself to ensuring an incredible experience.


We hope your association saw amazing successes in 2015 and that they continue into the new year. By committing yourselves to excellence in these three areas, you’ll be well on your way to doing so. If your association ever wants to augment its events, marketing, professional development, communications, sales, or finances, our team is here to help. Feel free to give us a call at (651) 290-6274 or email us at paulh@ewald.com. We’d be happy to hear about what you want to accomplish and how we can play a role in getting you there.


Here’s to a wonderfully successful and fun 2016 - cheers!

Tags:  association management  budget planning  New Year's 

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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
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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