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Marketing to Generations: Membership X, Y & Z

Posted By Kathie Pugaczewski, CAE, CMP, Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The primary and perhaps the only membership strategy to sustain and grow our associations is gaining membership in generation X, Y, Z, while not losing sight of the Boomer generation who have been the core of our associations through the years. In 2010, 7.3 million Baby Boomers will retire, making a tremendous impact on society and associations.


If we continue to use Boomer marketing strategies, Generation X and Y won’t join or participate because we’re not meeting them where they are at in their career and life. An additional consideration is that Generation X and Y are not exactly the same – each group has its own characteristics to consider and market to.


The differences in generations not only affect the future of associations, but also the future of the workplace. So providing meaningful benefits for different generations in our associations — as well as resources for their employers — is an important consideration.


Understanding differences and developing real strategies to meet those different needs will be a challenge for our boomer-centric associations. Bottom line: Gen X and Y aren’t going to adjust or grow up to become Boomers.


The consequences of inaction are clear. We must transform our organizations into vibrant resources for all generations. If we choose not to deliver real value for all generations, Generation X and Y will create it for themselves through their own Young Professional Groups or other competing organizations.


If we proactively create these opportunities within our own associations, we will transform and create the new association of the future with all generations participating and engaging and gaining real value for them professionally and personally.


Some Key Generational Characteristics:


Gen Z – Born 1996 - ?

  • New silent generation
  • Larger than Gen X
  • Long life span




Generation Y – Born between 1982-1995

  • 1/3 of the US population
  • Will change jobs seven times before early 30s
  • More socially outgoing than X
  • Networking/exchange of info
  • Enjoy collaboration
  • Virtual networking
  • More accepting of different cultures and well traveled
  • Participation is episodic
  • High achievers
  • Interested in mentoring
  • Make a difference in the community
  • Multi-taskers
  • Spend more time online than TV
  • Buzz marketing
  • Rewarded for participation, not achievement
  • Aim for positive feedback


Generation X – Born between 1965-1981

  • Independent, individualistic, self-reliant, work alone
  • Peer-focused – network with their own generation
  • Career building
  • Family first
  • Professional development
  • Training to enhance skill set
  • Very selective on where they spend their time
  • Need trust and belonging
  • More time and effort building a relationship
  • Prefer meeting in small groups
  • Discussions by email


Boomers – Born between 1946-1964

  • Raised with hope and opportunity
  • Driven by desire to succeed
  • Teamwork is a focus
  • Want to help others
  • Socialize and network — more face-to-face than succeeding generations



Membership Strategies by Association Area:


Membership Structure/Strategy

  • Collect year born and gender for benchmarking; additional – hobbies, interests, specialties to connect members
  • Young Professional Groups/Sections/SIGs
  • Student membership
  • Establish relationships with Universities/Schools




  • Mentoring program
  • Invite involvement — contribute in different ways
  • Shorter commitments and focused efforts
  • Review board requirements – get Gen X and Y on the board
  • Task forces v. committees
  • Don’t waste time on long or numerous meetings



  • Podcasts, blogs, RSS feeds
  • Generation-specific resources on web
  • Gen X & Y sections on web – forum discussion groups
  • Online mentoring
  • Focus on creative design and message to get attention, more sophisticated marketing messages, innovative and concise
  • Testimonials – value of membership – all generations
  • Career info and links on web
  • Podcast career tips, interview members on career topics
  • Internships listings/job Boards
  • Send welcome email with podcast of new member orientation
  • Stories/case studies
  • Searchable directory enhancements
  • Polls and surveys — get feedback
  • Distance learning/Webcasts/Audiocasts



  • Public speaking and leadership courses
  • Offer student rates
  • Speed networking
  • Behind the scenes, exclusive programs
  • Assess the length of programs – allow one-day-only options as well as family programs (not “spouse” programs)
  • X, Y, Boomer panel discussions at conferences
  • Mentoring/networking events
  • Job fairs





Definitions of Key Concepts


Wiki “A wiki is a type of computer software that allows users to easily create, edit and link web pages. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites, power community websites, and are increasingly being installed by businesses to provide affordable and effective Intranets or for use in Knowledge Management.”


Social Media – “Social Media is the democratization of information, transforming people from content readers into content publishers. It is the shift from a broadcast mechanism to a many-to-many model, rooted in conversations between or among authors, people, and peers. Social media uses the ‘wisdom of crowds’ to connect information in a collaborative manner. Social media can take many different forms, including Internet forums, message boards, weblogs, wikis, podcasts, pictures, and video. Technologies include blogs, picture-sharing, vlogs, wall-postings, email, instant messaging, music-sharing, group creation, and voice over IP. Examples of social media applications are Google (reference, social networking), Wikipedia (reference), MySpace (social networking), Facebook (social networking), Last.fm (personal music), YouTube (social networking and video sharing), Second Life (virtual reality), and Flickr (photo sharing).”



Resource Websites/Tools:



















The Fourth Turning, Strauss

When Generations Collide, Lancaster, L. & Stillman, D.

Managing the Generation Mix, Martin, Dr. C., & Tulgan, B.

The New Recruit, Sarah L. Sladek

The Decision to Join, ASAE, by James Dalton and Monica Dignam



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Freebie Tuesday: E-Book Edition

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Would you like your association to stand out? What can you do to engage with more members? How to create long-lasting relationships to improve retention? Change the Game: Get exclusive access to our playbook for Game-Changing Association Management. Simply click here and fill out the form: www.ewald.com/playbook


As one of the nation’s 15 largest AMCs, Ewald Consulting provides CREATIVE solutions that are EFFECTIVELY implemented to make your role as an association leader FUN! If you’re ready to start making a lasting impact for your association community, contact Paul Hanscom at (651) 290-6274 or paulh@ewald.com.

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Loyalty: The Dark horse Benefit of Social Media Marketing

Posted By Erik Hillesheim, Tuesday, October 27, 2015

I remember when I was a kid sitting at the breakfast table. I would drool in anticipation as my Mom cracked open a fresh box of Frosted Flakes. Now Frosted Flakes is an amazing cereal, don’t get me wrong, but I was more concerned with what SpongeBob Character Wind-Up I would be oh so lucky to get. I was captivated by the brand because they were able to keep me happy every time I came back.


Loyalty marketing is really cool and really useful, turns out. So useful, in fact, that there’s an entire industry focusing on figuring out how to keep consumers going back to a specific brand. The field of loyalty marketing has changed a lot over the years and is continuing to wind its way into every new outlet that emerges. What started as premiums, boxtops, prizes, and mail orders, has evolved into frequent fliers and card linked offers. But can social media create the same type of loyalty for your association?


So obviously loyalty marketing makes customers happy and we know that it’s profitable. What I don’t think many people realize is that there are ample amount of opportunities where social media can be used to increase your brand loyalty and how big of a difference this can make. Your association doesn’t need a credit card to make people loyal and here are a few ways that you can utilize your social platforms to keep members coming back:

1.       Be actively engaged on your social channels during conferences and encourage members to participate. It’s likely that your members will feel the most connected to your organization while at your major conferences. This is a critical time to ensure they’re engaged and happy. If you can make your members feel valued it’s very likely they’ll not only renew their membership, but also become even more engaged with the organization. By engaging with them online you’ll also be able to continue dialogue with them outside of the event and into the future. One of our clients recently held their Annual Conference and used a conference hashtag so participants could engage with other participants online. Staff members were following the conference hashtag and found a tweet by a member named Catherine who said she was looking forward to her first conference. They replied with this:

You can guess who’ll be seeing Catherine at next year’s conference.


2.       Create a stellar content marketing strategy. Posting engaging content throughout the year is a great way to ensure your members will keep coming back to you. By curating and creating content on your platforms, members will be more likely to engage with you and feel as though you’re adding to their intellectual arsenal. They’ll also make you their go-to when it comes to finding industry information and happenings.


3.       Thank people for putting content online. Did a member of your organization post an article about a current event in your field? Did they post about an event they’re going to? Did they link to your website? Shoot them a quick thank you tweet. A simple “Hey Jim, we really enjoyed your article. Thanks for sharing! #something,” can go a long way. This also works if they retweet, favorite, or like your content as well.

In a hypercompetitive world, it is becoming harder and harder to maintain members. Loyalty is hard to come by, but not hard to create. Make social media your SpongeBob Wind-Up.


If you ever have any questions or comments on how to let social media work for your association feel free to contact Ewald’s Marketing Team at katemh@ewald.com

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Pay to Play: How to effectively mix marketing with media

Posted By Jess Myers, Tuesday, October 20, 2015

It’s an unwritten rule that one of the most straightforward ways to make friends in the media is to invest dollars and time, in a marketing plan. Journalists always tout objectivity, but more and more often as the business of reporting changes, media and marketing are going hand-in-hand. It’s not uncommon for the media to give better coverage to those with whom it has an established business relationship.


A few ways to mix marketing and media include:


Advertising/Sponsorships. In addition to pitching your organization or event through traditional media channels, contact the newspaper or electronic media outlet’s advertising sales department. A nominal advertising purchase, followed up with traditional media pitching, can be an effective way to spread your message. Additionally, many radio and TV shows sell sponsorships, where your organization is noted as a presenter of the program. These can often be affordable way to promote your name.


Exclusives. Instead of offering a monetary investment, offer the media exclusivity in exchange for promoting your event or organization. Offer an exclusive interview, or a “first look” at a press release, before it is released to others. If you have a good relationship with a particular member of the media, “leaking” news to them a day or so before you distribute it more widely is a good way to say thanks for good coverage in the past.


Advertorial. Some media outlets will sell space in their publications or on the air that is less obviously commercial. A nominal investment by you pays for a story about your organization or your initiative. It’s worth noting that these will usually feature a disclaimer noting that the space has been paid for.


Trade-outs. Invest in marketing without money changing hands, by offering space in your organization’s newsletter, or signage at a conference, in exchange for coverage of your organization or event in the paper or on the air.


The world of journalism is changing, and knowing how to mix marketing and media using techniques like these can be an effective tool for your organization. Call us today to find out how we can align your vision with our public relations strategy: (651) 290-6260.   

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CAE-Approved Provider Renewal

Posted By David Ewald, Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Updated: Monday, October 12, 2015

While we always strive to be the best in the association management world, it’s sometimes just as gratifying to know that we are also the first. We got a nice reminder of our pioneering status last month when Ewald Consulting retained its credentials as the nation’s first association management company to be a Certified Association Executive-approved provider with the American Society of Association Executives.


As a CAE approved provider, Ewald Consulting offers training programs which help participants fulfill the professional development requirements that allow them to maintain their own CAE credentials. We offer programs that qualify participants for CAE credits, and we maintain participation records in accordance with CAE policies.


That’s a mouthful, but the CAE credentials mean that in addition to being a place where local, national and international associations come for full-service management, Ewald Consulting is also a place where association members and staff can receive certified training within ASAE. This was the first association management company to receive that certification, so that is another well-earned accolade for those working hard as our company grows.


Great work by all involved in maintaining our first-in-the-industry status.

Tags:  ASAE  association management  CAE-Approved Provider 

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Meet the Communications Team in Chicago

Posted By Emily Fairall, Tuesday, October 6, 2015

This week, we’re hosting a Q & A with Emily Fairall, our amazing Communications Specialist in Chicago. Learning about their work style also helps us to understand the Ewald Chicago office’s culture better.


Q. What are your day-to-day activities like?

A. My day-to-day activities include updating various website pages, creating membership flyers, creating association events and posting them on the website, and organizing content for newsletters.


Q. What is the culture like at the Ewald Chicago office?

A. We all get along really well and it’s fun working together on projects. It’s normally fairly quiet in our office if there aren’t any meetings, but I think we all like working that way. We’ll go out to lunch every once in a while and have a great time.


Q. What’s your favorite part about working with our clients?

A. I enjoy working with clients that all differ from one another. They are all unique in their own way and I enjoy having something new to focus on each day. The spontaneity of my tasks is great.


Q. What are some of the trickiest parts of your job?

A. The trickiest part would be to look away from my computer screen and rest my eyes – there’s always so much to do and when I’m on a roll, I’d rather plug through it.


Q. Can you share a recent win, or something you’re working on? 

A. I’m currently working on logo samples for an upcoming conference that will be in Chicago next year. It’s fun to let my creativity flow and create a staple piece for such a large conference.


Q. What’s one thing we should know about your team?

A. Working on multiple clients with the same team has been really helpful. We bounce ideas off of one another that can apply to any client.



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Nine Ways to Make Sponsorship Success Easy

Posted By Paul Hanscom , Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Whether embarking on a sponsorship campaign for the first time or reviewing sponsorship options that have been in place for a number of years, it is important to have a process in place that engages input, boosts value, and nurtures sponsor relationships over time. This process maximizes sponsor value for the organization and the sponsor’s feeling of being a valued partner. You can get there with these nine steps.

Why Should Someone Sponsor?

Sponsorship creates a meaningful partnership between a vendor and your organization. Through sponsorship, a supplier demonstrates commitment to advancing your organization and industry as a whole. Sponsorship builds a vendor’s credibility and develops a good rapport in the industry. It also diversifies your revenue sources, and can assure additional funding to allow your organization to better serve its mission.

When you seek sponsors, don’t be timid. You are offering them an opportunity that may be their best — if not only — chance to get the word out about their product or service to a very targeted market. The alternatives available may be expensive, impersonal, and/or have a low return on investment (e.g. mass marketing, cold calling, direct mail). Don’t undervalue what you can bring to a sponsor.

Identify Sponsor Prospects

Consider how your organization identifies sponsor prospects. Are you regularly branching out to new prospects or do you wind up contacting the same few vendors over and over again? While it is important to nurture and reinforce relationships with long-term supporters, you also want to cultivate new relationships. Ask yourself which vendors in your industry might benefit from getting their name in front of a targeted audience — your audience. Companies that have no previous involvement with your organization could see sponsorship as their vehicle to launch into the market.

An additional way to identify sponsor prospects is to research companies that are sponsoring similar activities at a different scale — be it local, regional, or national. Find organizations that are similar to yours and see who is supporting them. If they serve a similar demographic, it is likely that the sponsor will want to support you as well. Companies that have a history of supporting organizations in your industry will naturally benefit from sponsorship with your association.

Communicate Value to Your Sponsors

Start with the data you already possess. If you have demographic data on your group, share that with prospective sponsors to illustrate who they can reach. This concept also applies to event participant lists and the board of directors roster. Demonstrate the breadth and depth of your organization’s reach to decision-makers in your group. This is valuable and compelling information to companies, especially those with a limited marketing budget. By providing this information, you guarantee exposure that other marketing approaches may not be able to muster. Several analytics platforms track the number of hits that your website is getting as well as how many viewers clicked a specific sponsor’s link. This is another concrete measure of sponsorship value.

A key element of success in securing new sponsors is the person who makes the ask. Your organization needs people on your side who are influential and able to capture the attention of decision-makers. Think of the top five companies/leaders in your field and make sure you have a contact with each of them. Ask your board members to name leading companies and people they consider to be key thinkers. By securing support from known authorities in the industry, you demonstrate that you can likewise connect sponsors to these leaders. Establishing a connection to industry authority is very valuable; you will have an easier time getting the attention of a prospective sponsor if you can offer them this type of value.

Start the Dialogue

If any of the leaders in your organization already have a relationship with a prospective sponsor, they may be the natural choice to take the first step to make contact. However, for those sponsors who are being contacted for the first time, it is best to begin by familiarizing them with the organization. One way to do this is by adding the sponsor prospect to your newsletter or magazine mailing list. Send them a complimentary copy of your association’s special publication along with a personalized letter of introduction. Now your potential sponsor will have some frame of reference when you call about sponsorship rather than making a complete cold call.

Oftentimes we speak at a sponsor prospect by explaining what our sponsorship opportunity will give them before we ask what the sponsor is looking for. Get their interest, biggest challenge, and see if you can help them. Ask them, “Who are your ideal customers?” and, “What are you looking for in the sponsorship? How do you want your company to be thought of in this industry?” Ask the sponsor, “What is your biggest challenge?” For some, it is finding the decision-makers at industry companies. For others, it is a challenge to announce a new product launch. Some are looking for the right environment to help them network more effectively. In each case, your sponsors have unique challenges. It is your job to discern whether or not your organization is able to help them address these challenges and connect them with potential customers. These questions will tease out whether or not sponsorship is a wise investment. If the answer is a great big “No,” then it’s in everyone’s best interest that you move on. Don’t waste resources providing sponsorship benefits that are not appreciated or even wanted! If sponsorship does not appear to be a good fit for the organization, it is best to identify this early. If sponsorship has a lot to offer to the prospect, answering these questions makes their decision to sign up even easier. Sponsorship is a partnership, not a one-time sale. Nurture the relationship all year long and follow up to keep the value fresh in your sponsor’s mind.

Set Sponsorship Fees Right

When setting sponsorship fees, remember that you are selling an investment in the sponsorship experience, not just a one-time expense. Set your price to the market and don’t underestimate the value you can offer to a sponsor. If affiliation and sponsorship support with your organization generate sales and notoriety in the industry, your sponsors will come back every time. Communicate this value.

When estimating a sponsorship fee structure, there are a variety of elements to consider. First, if there are multiple levels of sponsorship, each fee must be less expensive than the sum of each smaller level to entice a sponsor toward a larger investment. Likewise, make sure to guard your ability to tailor a package to meet a large sponsor’s interests. If a prospect wants to give you money, make sure that there is a fitting way for them to do so.

Sponsor Recognition

You’ve secured your first sponsor. Congratulations! Who knows about it? Did you get the word out to members? Did you thank the sponsor in your industry magazine or newsletter? Sponsorship is an important decision for many companies and you need to provide some visible result right away. Sponsors need to feel the value of sponsorship as soon as possible and for the length of their support — be it for one event or five years. Make sure to get the word out about your new sponsor so they know they are appreciated from the very start of the relationship.

Be creative when acknowledging your sponsors in writing. Write a feature article that profiles the sponsor, why they are involved with your organization, and what benefit they offer to your readership. This is much better than simply listing them in the magazine or newsletter because it helps your members relate to the sponsor and it even further clarifies to the sponsor why your organization is the right fit. You could place a sponsor’s ad in the publication for free. As more organizations move to electronic publications that may not be as conducive to ads, having an exclusive e-newsletter sponsorship can be very valuable to the sponsor and lucrative for your organization. However, it is important to consistently tell your e-newsletter sponsor how often your website is visited. Certainly ask members if they are sensitive about giving out their electronic information before you provide this to a sponsor.

Make sure to recognize your biggest sponsors at your biggest event. A supplementary “Sponsor Thank You” event that will likely get low attendance from the people your sponsor wants to meet and is a poor use of the resources you’ve worked hard to secure.

The Multiplier Effect

The value of sponsors to your organization is not limited to the price tag you put on sponsorship packages. There are plenty of ways that you can partner with your sponsors to multiply the benefits to your organization, the people you serve, and the sponsor. If a high-level executive at your sponsoring company is the authority on a subject of interest to your members, you can include this individual as a speaker at one of your events or s/he could present an award to one of your members. This is a way for your sponsor to get exposure, your members to get cutting-edge information, and for your organization to be reinforced as an authoritative forum for such interactions. The sponsor will have a keen interest in helping you promote the event by distributing information to its own customers — people who may not know about your organization yet, but who could be prospective members. Don’t forget to ask your sponsor about the best way to let its customers know about the event and their support for it. Ask for a link from the sponsor’s website stating, “We are a proud sponsor of organization ABC.”

Follow-Up & Feedback

Send prompt follow-up to sponsors after an event is held or a publication is printed with statistics about the number of attendees/readers, any press exposure about the event/publication, and any measure of their exposure. Send a reminder of the cumulative recognition received as a sponsor for your organization: press releases, call for entries, registration piece, even a printed copy of an email promotion. It is compelling to see — in one place — all of the points where the sponsor received exposure through a consistently branded message.

Try to communicate feedback to your sponsors from the event attendees or publication readers. This can include testimonials from surveys or evaluations, focus groups, or interviews. Most importantly, ask the sponsor about the sponsorship experience, which is the first step to renewing support as a sponsor the next time.

Other nice extras

There are plenty of little extras you can use to help a sponsor relationship grow. You could offer to host one of your events or meetings at the sponsor’s facility. Most sponsors will be eager to show off their offices. Suggest they volunteer with your organization and/or join a committee so they can meet others who are passionate about your mission and learn more about the social culture of the group.

If this is your sponsor’s first time participating, provide personal introductions and guidance on how to make the most of their sponsorship. If there are sponsor representatives at your event, ask if they wish to meet a specific someone. See how appreciative sponsors are when you provide a personal introduction to someone they would like to meet for the first time.

Nurture the Relationship

Develop sponsorship packages with an annual renewal. This allows your sponsors and your organization the ability to build sponsorship into an annual budget and plan accordingly. Additionally, annual renewal means that you only have to ask each sponsor for a financial contribution once — and they get recognition all year long. Sponsors and fundraisers alike say that it is easier to ask once for a large contribution than to solicit smaller amounts every time your organization has a new initiative. Do not confuse this with a suggestion that you only approach each sponsor once per year. Remember to check in frequently and consistently throughout the year so your sponsor does not develop the sentiment that every interaction with you is a financial one. Make sure your sponsors are cognizant of their sponsorship and the benefits it affords them. 
Send communication related to their business. Send congratulations if they receive an award or if one of their staff receives a promotion. Make a point to visit top sponsors at their own office once a year so they feel valued. Survey them and host a focus group of current and prospective sponsors to get new ideas for an established event. Never assume that the benefits you offered a year ago are exactly what sponsors want today.

Keep the Momentum

Set a sponsorship recruitment goal and revisit it often. Keep the board and pertinent committee members informed of your progress. While there are several methods to communicate sponsorship options to your prospects (including blast email, direct mail, or a template message from key volunteers), personal contact through phone calls or in-person meetings is often the most effective way to communicate because it conveys how important this support is to your leaders, your organization, and your cause.

Wrapping it up 
Be sponsor worthy. Tell sponsors and prospective sponsors why your organization is a unique value to them. Show them the value. And write your own sponsorship success story.

This is a sample of the content in our e-book, Maximizing the Sponsor Experience. Download the full e-book now!

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Meet the Finance Team

Posted By Amanda Ewald, Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Our team is all very dedicated to our work and doing the best for our clients.” – Amanda Ewald, VP Finance and Accounting, Ewald Consulting


This week, we’re hosting a Q & A with our VP of Accounting and Finance, Amanda Ewald. Learn a few of her secrets to the Finance team’s success.


Q. What’s your favorite part about working with our clients?

A.  They’re all so different.  We get a lot of questions on a lot of different things and it’s fun being able to help people and get them answers to their questions.  Working with treasurers and boards who appreciate our work and are fun to work with. 


Q. What are some of the trickiest parts of your department’s job?

A. We are one of the few departments where everyone in our department works with every client.  We all need to know and understand the intricacies of each client.  Every client is set up a little differently and handles thing in their own way.  It helps make our job more interesting but also a little more difficult sometimes.


Q. Can you share a recent win, or something you’re working on? 

A. We are working on some new processes around accounts payable and accounts receivable that are hopefully going to provide some better clarity on the client financials and cut down on questions.


Q. What are some key characteristics you see across the board with our finance whizzes?

A. Everyone in our department is very good at multitasking.  We are all very organized even though a lot of times when you look at our desks there are a lot of papers and piles it all makes sense to us.  We also are good at communicating and working together. 


Q. What’s one thing we should know about your team?

A. Our team is all very dedicated to our work and doing the best for our clients.  They are all very determined and when a question comes up they will not give up until they find an answer or solution.

Tags:  finance 

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Building an Association Sales Funnel that Works

Posted By Paul Hanscom, CAE, Tuesday, September 15, 2015

There are myriad sales models designed to build sales revenue in a for-profit company. Association professionals are left to draw parallels for themselves based on these models and what they assume to be applicable. Following is a step-by-step model specifically designed for building and working your association sales funnel. 

Create Awareness – Get the word out about your association to all of the stakeholders in your field of practice. To learn more about finding and assessing stakeholder groups, read this article published by ASAE about association stakeholder analysis.

Build Engagement – Engaged stakeholders are often already members of the association community. They are volunteers, authors, commentators, speakers, and tuned-in consumers of the information your association has to offer. Engage your sales prospects so they have a direct relationship with your organization and care about its success. To learn more about engaging stakeholders, watch this online presentation.

Start the Dialogue – When you are ready to begin a sponsorship campaign, start your sales conversation with the potential sponsors and advertisers that are already engaged in the association. They will be most receptive to you and can help you position the opportunities most effectively. This will be tremendously valuable when approaching potential sponsors/advertisers that are not yet fully engaged.

Set Expectations – When securing agreement from a sponsor, make sure there is mutual clarity about the exchange of resources and benefits offered. Clear expectations, in writing, that you revisit regularly, will go a long way to ensuring your sponsor and association leadership are happy with the relationship.

Exceed Expectations – Everyone likes getting a little something extra and your sponsors, exhibitors and members are no different. If sponsors get what they pay for then their sponsorship is like the thousands of other transaction they make throughout the year. Surprise your sponsors and advertisers. Make sure they feel like they are getting something more than they expect when they sign up to support you.

Nurture the Relationship – Make sure conversation with your sponsors and advertisers continues over time. Ask for their feedback and ideas on how the association can improve the way it builds connection all year between members, sponsors, and key stakeholder groups.  To learn about how to build and grow a nurturing sponsorship program, read this e-book on maximizing sponsor value.





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What is the “right size” for a non-profit board of directors?

Posted By Eric Ewald, CAE, Tuesday, September 8, 2015

This is a common question that cannot and should not yield a single number for an answer because there are variances in state law requirements for minimum size and the size, scope and culture of nonprofits varies greatly.  The average in the United State according to the most recent BoardSource Nonprofit Governance Index is 16.  However, the best answer to the question about size is: whatever is the right size to meet the needs of your organization.

Here are some considerations:

State law regarding minimum number of directors
All states with the exception of Mississippi (which does not specify a number) requires either 1 or more members or 3 or more members.  The laws do not specify a maximum number.

What’s right for your organization?
So there are state law requirements for minimum size and the national average is 16.  What about your organization?  There are a variety of things to consider in establishing the right size of board for your organization including:

Scope/workload: Think about how many are ideal to effectively lead, manage and do the required governance work without board members burning-out.

Diversity: How many do you need to have an effective mix of individuals on the board?  The idea here is not to think of every possible element of diversity that you think needs representation (geographic, professional interest area, racial, age, sexual and other) but to assure you have an effective combination of perspectives sufficient to yield good deliberation and decision making.

Logistics and Cost:  The logistics and costs associated with orienting, training, informing, calling-together, feeding and housing boards increases with size.  What is ideal for your organization from a budgetary, staff support and overall “bandwidth” perspective?  As groups get larger, the governance skills required to lead and coordinate also increase.

Recognize the need for change
As boards and organizations progress throughout the lifecycle of founding to maturity to rebirth the organization’s needs might call for changes to the size of the Board.  Don’t assume that once the number of directors is established that it must stay that way in perpetuity.  Start-up boards tend to be smaller.  As organization’s mature and their operations expand boards tend to get bigger.

There is a Boardsource tenant that succinctly summarizes the question around board size “The optimal size for a board is not defined by a number buy by the composition of the board that achieves desired accomplishments.”


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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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