Association Today

Association News You Can Use

Paul Lundy is Co-Founder and President of Fonteva, the number one cloud technology solution for associations that manage members and donors.


Paul is a veteran leader of customer-driven organizations in the US, Europe and Asia. He spent many years living and traveling abroad for The Coca-Cola Company and McCann-Erickson.


Prior to co-founding Fonteva, Paul served as Chief Marketing and Sales Officer of GlobalCrypto, an early stage cyber security company . Paul was also co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Marketworks, a cloud-based Fonteva eCommerce company and eBay's largest Preferred Solution Provider. Over 3,000 businesses in 37 countries used Marketworks to automate their online sales operations when Paul sold the company in 2007.


Paul holds a Bachelor degree in Journalism and Marketing. He began his career in advertising with McCann-Erickson, where he held the position of Vice-President, Account Group Director, for the US and then Europe. Subsequently, he worked as Director for The Coca-Cola Company with a primary focus on the Asia Pacific.


Paul is an active member of the nonprofit Big Brothers and Big Sisters.

“Baby You’re a Firework”: Some Insights on Innovation

“Baby You’re a Firework”: Some Insights on Innovation

As the 4th of July holiday approaches, fireworks will be front and center. Friends and family will gather together all over the country to watch them shoot across the sky. We are captivated by their bright colors and the unexpected surprises that come when one display bursts into another more powerful one. It seems to me that same level of excitement could ignite associations and make them incubators for innovative ideas.

Throughout this month, we’ll be sharing a variety of perspectives on innovation. Katy Perry’s lyrics to “Firework” serve as metaphor for the innovative spirit sustainable organizations encourage their employees to exhibit:

You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July

'Cause, baby, you're a firework
Come on, show 'em what you're worth
Come on, let your colours burst

In terms of organizational management, these lyrics speak to the importance of encouraging stakeholders in your association to come forward with new ideas. After all, they are the foundation for innovation.

The song goes on to talk about the future and the importance of continuing to strive towards goals and new ideas even when it seems like they are not initially well received: “Maybe a reason why all the doors are closed; So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road.”

Have you created an environment that invites innovation? Do your employees feel confident about sharing their ideas? That’s the case here at Fonteva. However, on occasion we all need to be reminded to put a little “fire” into our work. Be safe and enjoy the holiday!

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4 PR Pitfalls to Avoid

4 PR Pitfalls to Avoid

Reputation and relationships are among the hallmarks of any successful organization. PR is just that: relating to the public. To ensure that relationship is a positive one, Rieva Lesonsky, CEO of GrowBiz Media, highlights four pitfalls you should avoid:

1 - Scaring away potential customers. Sure, you know your target market well, but you may not realize there are a lot of people who are on the fringes or even the outside of your target market that could become loyal customers. Think about the phrasing in your PR efforts and be careful not to offend anyone.

2 - Ignoring social media. Consumers and the media turn to social media when they want to find out more information, to state an opinion, or to establish a personal connection with a business. The worst thing you can do is to ignore them. Connecting with bloggers, journalists and editors using social media may score your business some press coverage.

3 - Using too much industry jargon. When crafting your press release, be careful not to turn off your reader by using too much insider jargon. Keep the message simple and don’t over-embellish. Journalists don’t want to have to cut through the hyperbole to get to the message. Make sure the press release is topical and relevant to your intended audience.

4- Not returning a call. If someone from the media contacts you, make sure you either talk to or get back to them immediately. Bloggers and reporters are always on deadline and if they can’t get a quote from you, they’ll turn to your competitor. If you can anticipate what the questions will be and have your answers ready to go, even better. Find out when the blog post or article will appear and ask for the reporter’s Twitter name so you can retweet the mention.

When it comes to PR, your association may have all its bases covered, so to speak, but even in the midst of the busiest day, you want to be sure relate well to the public and give the best impression possible. 

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Bearers of Bad News: What's Next for Medical Professionals?

Bearers of Bad News: What's Next for Medical Professionals?

Take it away! This is the 22nd in a series of posts that have been featured on Fonteva’s blog to highlight important strategies associations can take away from other industries. In today’s sixth-degrees-of-separation world, your members are assessing your association not just in comparison to similar organizations but in relation to the totality of their experiences as consumers. As such, we want to help you stay abreast of key trends and best practices, those takeaways that may benefit your association.

Honesty may be the best policy, but it’s not always received well. Doctors face this dilemma on a daily basis. Cardiologist Lisa Rosenbaum’s recent post to The New Yorker’s blog, “When Doctors Tell Patients What They Don’t Want to Hear,” explores this issue in detail.

“Will our patients still like us if we tell them things they don’t want to hear?” she writes. “The challenge of communicating unpleasant, possibly profoundly upsetting information to patients is timeless.”

However, she notes that “what has changed, however, is that physicians are now being judged, and compensated, based upon their ability to do it.”

While it’s unlikely that most of us will ever have to deliver life-or-death information, we do find ourselves in positions where we have to tell people what they don’t want to hear. It could be that you have to tell members that their favorite program or publication is being discontinued. In our case, we may have to explain to a customer that their current methods of maintaining data will mean doing quite a bit of work in order to successfully transition to a new AMS.

Now, here’s the proverbial Catch 22. These members may no longer be "satisfied" with your organization. However, the decisions that were made may be in the best interest of your association’s overall health for the long-term.

As Rosenbaum asks, “…in a country that spends more per capita on health than any other, with results that remain mediocre in comparison, can we really expect that a nation of more satisfied patients will be healthier nation over all?”

She highlights a strategic question that most organizations must address at some point. It boils down to what you’re willing to communicate as well as how you do so. “Sure, there are nice ways of saying, ‘You need to lose weight, stop smoking, and take this medication that certainly won’t make you feel better but might very well leave you tire and depressed,’” Rosenbaum writes.

“But sometimes there aren’t, and it can be tough to separate how we feel about the message from how we feel about the messenger,” she continues.

There will likely be instances where members will be forced to take the medicine you’re doling out. They won’t like it. And no one enjoys being the bearer of “bad news,” but it’s a necessary component of keeping your organization healthy.

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App of the Month: Jitterbit, the Cloud Data Loader

Yes, there probably is an app for that, for just about anything you want to accomplish professionally and personally. But how do you know which apps are the best ones for your association?

So far this year I’ve highlighted five apps from the Salesforce App Exchange so that you could get a better idea of what’s available and may be most useful to you in your work. The sixth app that I would like to highlight is Jitterbit.

Moving data from one place to another tends to be one of the greatest data management challenges that associations face. Designed for Salesforce administrators, Jitterbit Data Loader for Salesforce is a free data migration tool that enables users to automate the import/export of data between flat files, databases, and Salesforce / force.com.

Using this app can dramatically reduce the time and effort required to automate the import and export of critical business data from Salesforce CRM, force.com and your organization’s databases and files – whether they are stored onsite or in the cloud. Automation allows users to “set it and forget it.”

One user’s review emphasizes how the app helps users effectively manage the transfer of data between Salesforce and other data sources:

“I have used this tool for pushing and pulling all manner of Salesforce data to and from an internal database. It works wonderfully, and it is easy to use. I can pull Salesforce data in order to manipulate products, contacts, accounts and opportunities, etc. in my internal database and push them back to Salesforce with scheduled queries and updates. It has made managing Salesforce much easier.”

Another review highlights the app’s timesaving graphic interface:

“This is the easiest tool for searching, importing, updating and deleting data. The graphical mapping is so simple, and saving the mapping for future use has been a great time saver. Thanks for creating a great free app!

Still another review speaks to the app’s usability:

“I was told that in order to use this tool, I would need some ramp up time and online help, so not true. This is a great tool, easy to use and very powerful.”

Given its benefits, think of the time and efficiencies your association could gain using Jitterbit. Read more online to see if this app might be right for your organization.

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Who’s Who Wednesday: Michele F. Liston, CMP

Who’s Who Wednesday: Michele F. Liston, CMP

Throughout 2014, we want to give the blogosphere the opportunity to get to know the Fonteva team and our clients better. To that end, we've introduced a new monthly feature, Who’s Who Wednesday.

This month we’re pleased to introduce you to Michele F. Liston, deputy executive director of NICSA, a 175-member trade association in the mutual fund industry based in McLean, Va. In that role, she oversees all operations for the association. She began working with the organization in March 2012.

Prior to that, she held management positions at the National Association of Independent Life Brokerage Agencies and the Specialty Graphics Imaging Association.

“When we went live with Fonteva For Associations last November, we had a very short implementation window between two of our major conferences,” Liston says.

“I appreciate that Fonteva condensed the entire process (i.e. training, etc.) and made it as painless possible.”

Read on to learn more about her.

1 - What’s on your desk right now?

My work journal/to-do book, iPad mini, file folder stand, document scanner, my homemade salad dressing for my lunch, pen cup, panda bear coffee mug, and my mini AFLAC duck (Yes, he does quack “AFLAC” when you squeeze him!)

2 - Who are you following on Twitter?

Most of the people I follow have to do with sports, travel or wine, and music too:  Daughtry, Mike and Mike, Adam Schefter (ESPN), Alton Brown, Deadspin, Jay Bilas, Mark Cuban and Zane Lamprey.

3 - What’s the best advice you ever got?

I’m not sure she ever said it directly, but my Mother taught me (by example) to always treat everyone the same – whether they were the janitor or the CEO – that they are all people and to treat everyone with respect.

4 - What’s the most played song on your iPod or iPhone?

That’s a loaded question for me.  I love music, so it is constantly playing in my office and in my car.  My tastes are very diverse too, but my favorite music overall is 80s hair bands (heavy metal).  If I had to pick one song, it would be Slash’s “We Will Roam.”  But I could pick any one of 100 songs…


5 - What do you do when you’re not at work?

Go to my 17-year-old son’s lacrosse games, work on remodeling our house, ride my Harley, or enjoy sitting on our back porch with a glass of wine!

6 - If you weren't working for NICSA, what would you be doing?

Probably working for another group out there in association-land!

7 - What are your favorite blogs?

The Everywhereist, an excellent travel and life blog

By Ken Levine, a blog about writing TV comedy

8 - What is your favorite Fonteva For Associations feature? Why?

I actually like the reporting best.  It’s really awesome to be able to pull out any kind of information in a logical way. For example, NICSA has both child and parent companies as members, and we were able to create a report that enabled to see everyone on one membership list.

 


 

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General Membership: 3 Takeaways for More Successful Recruitment

General Membership: 3 Takeaways for More Successful Recruitment

TAKEAWAY TUESDAY

Take it away! This is the 21st in a series of posts that have been featured on Fonteva’s blog to highlight important strategies associations can take away from other industries. In today’s sixth-degrees-of-separation world, your members are assessing your association not just in comparison to similar organizations but in relation to the totality of their experiences as consumers. As such, we want to help you stay abreast of key trends and best practices, those takeaways that may benefit your association.


General Membership: 3 Takeaways for More Successful Recruitment

By their very nature, most associations consider themselves specialists. They specialize in serving a specific profession or industry. While this is certainly the case, even in their specialized environments, jack-of-all-trades syndrome can creep in and potentially cost associations members.

One of business coach and advisor John Murphy’s recent contributions to The Huff Post Business blog illustrates this point well. Murphy recounts an experience with a client Tom, “who works really hard as a financial advisor.” (Takeaway #1: There’s nothing wrong with working hard, but working smarter could be better especially if you aren’t getting the results you want.)

According Murphy, Tom had the opportunity to put together a proposal to take over the investment portfolio of a medical professional. He “had done quite a bit of work in preparing a proposal to his prospect and was very confident that he would secure the business.”

However, he didn’t. Murphy goes on to write that “Tom did the right thing to try and understand why the business was not being closed.” (Takeaway #2: If a prospect is willing to tell you, find out why he or she didn’t join.)

As Murphy tells it, the physician finally stated that he “did not feel there was a fit between him and Tom.” Well, you might be thinking that it is fine if your association isn’t the right fit for everyone because you can’t be all things to all people. (Takeaway #3: Everyone wants to feel special and like his/her needs are being addressed above all else.)

However, I would suggest that sometimes the opposite is true. By trying to appeal to so many different audiences, some associations fail to market themselves appropriately to those prospects looking to join an organization that truly specializes in their area expertise or sphere of influence.

Here’s the feedback the physician had for Tom: “When it comes to my personal financial well-being, I want to deal with someone who specializes in my field, not someone who is a generalist and has no specialization.”

Reading Murphy’s post made me consider whether our potential customers might have ever felt that way. To a certain extent, I agree with his assertion that “you simply cannot build a reputation as an expert across various industries or professions.” This translates to our work here at Fonteva in the sense that while we work well with all different kinds of nonprofit organizations, we made the decision early on to focus on this sector.

The same idea is applicable to your association. Can you really speak to all segments of the industry or profession you represent? Or instead should you target specific markets of members? These are definitely questions worth considering.

For years some associations have actually had a category called general membership. However, these days not many people want to be thought of in general, including your potential members.
 

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The Stories They Could Tell

The Stories They Could Tell

Once upon a time… On a dark and stormy night… Your organization’s story probably won’t begin like this, but you have an important narrative to share and shape with your members and/or donors.

ASAE Editor Mark Athitakis recently observed that, “an association’s brand is more than a logo—it’s the stories people tell about you.” And people are definitely telling stories about your organization.

In a recent Nonprofit Quarterly article, Carlo M. Cuesta, managing partner of Creation in Common, shared observations that underscore the important relationship between branding and storytelling. “Organizational identity within the nonprofit sector is also shaped by stories,” he wrote.

In addition, he noted that members and donors want—even expect— to play an active role in telling those stories: “The need to contribute and shape the shape the narrative has become commonplace.” According to Cuesta, “public ownership of a cause and organization has never been stronger.”

He offered two additional insights that I want to especially highlight:

    • “A stronger bond is formed when our participants, donors, and community members, along with staff and volunteers, see themselves less as stakeholders and more as story shapers.”
    • “Harnessing the power of co-creation requires letting go. Particularly with organizational identity and messaging, there is an inherent need to control every word. Consistency is often valued over accessibility.”

For me these points highlight the importance of continuing to build community in organizations. It’s critical for their success. Understandably, there are concerns about what kinds of content members or donors might create or share. If that’s the case, organizations might consider “test driving” member created content through a member portal like the one included in Fonteva For Associations. One way or another, your organization’s story will be told. It’s up to you to play a role in how it will be told.

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Taken with Tablets

Taken with Tablets

We live in a culture where people place a premium on being able to live, learn, and like on the go. This mobile mantra applies to our lives both at home and at work. In today’s fully digitally environment, having a preferred mobile device is common if not expected. For me it’s my Android and portable MacBook Air.

According to a recent study (“2013 CXOs Mobile Devices Report”) conducted by research firm Frost & Sullivan, C-level executives prefer tablets as their mobile device of choice. As reported in Information Management, they gave these devices high marks for reliability, performance and convenience. Frost & Sullivan found that one-third of the more than 500 C-level executives surveyed worldwide plan to replace their laptops with tablets. Further, the firm reports that “the most significant growth rate in device use was from tablets, which was up 118 percent between 2011 and 2013.”

C-level executives aren't the only group that prefers mobile, association members do too. Organizations need to be prepared to provide their members with content easily accessible on any platform.

This study’s findings once again reaffirm our commitment to offering an AMS solution that is fully mobile. Fonteva For Associations is completely mobile for users and members. Association staff can log into the database from any Internet enabled device, and constituents can access the portal and enjoy touch screen navigation from any mobile device.

Our goal is for associations to have all the tools they need to take technology to the next level rather than having it level them if they are unable to meet member expectations.

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Tee Time: 3 Leadership Lessons from Golf

Tee Time: 3 Leadership Lessons from Golf

TAKEAWAY TUESDAY Take it away! This is the 20th in a series of posts that have been featured on Fonteva’s blog to highlight important strategies associations can take away from other industries. In today’s sixth-degrees-of-separation world, your members are assessing your association not just in comparison to similar organizations but in relation to the totality of their experiences as consumers. As such, we want to help you stay abreast of key trends and best practices, those takeaways that may benefit your association. If you thought caddies were glorified golf club carriers, think again. Without good caddies, there are rarely good golfers. This partnership between golfer and caddie is another illustration of how important it is for leaders to work in cooperation with each other to bring their organizations’ visions to fruition. In a recent post to LinkedIn, Chris Gaborit, Managing Director at The Learning Factor, made some insightful observations about the relationship between caddie and golfer. “A great caddie is more than a bag carrier; he is a motivator, encourager, admonisher, counselor, and advisor,” Gaborit wrote. “He is there with you every day to coach while you are practicing and when you are playing.” “Good caddies understand your strengths and weaknesses and your stress and anxiety cycles, such as how you are affected by pressure, adrenaline, winning, and losing, and they guide you through those emotional moments,” he continued. According to Gaborit, having caddied for the winners of 14 major golf championships earns Steve Williams recognition as “the world’s number one caddie.” He attributes Williams’ success to three key traits he believes all leaders need:

    1. Speak your mind. There are too many yes men in life. We don’t need another manager who will tell us what we want to hear. We need managers who will challenge our thinking, strategy, and direction.
    2. Be prepared. A caddie’s role is to know the course ahead and then coach their player around the course. The caddie must know distances, obstacles, hills and valleys, and every possible risk that could come into play. The intense preparation is essential in doing their job, which is to get their player around the course with as few errors as possible.
    3. Maintain a competitive spirit. Steve Williams says that the reason he and Tiger Woods got along quickly was their competitive spirits. Steve was a scratch golfer when he was 13 and races stock cars. He is not only competitive for himself but also for his team. He is known for being very aggressive and vocal in directing crowds during tournaments, and for being very protective of his team (player) on the course.

How are your caddying skills these days? Are you the kind of leader who inspires others from being good to being great? An association will only stand out in a crowd if its leaders do.

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A Class on Giving: 4 Ways Donors Will Evaluate You

A Class on Giving: 4 Ways Donors Will Evaluate You

Judging from recent levels of enrollment in a six-week Giving with Purpose MOOC facilitated by Northeastern University professor Rebecca Riccio, people are very interested in becoming donors. More importantly, they want to feel more confident about being effective donors.

Forbes.com editor and contributor Richard Eisenberg was one of 7,500 students enrolled in the course. Eisenberg’s motivation for enrolling was a desire for answers to some key questions that many donors have about their giving: “Will my donation do any good? Is the charity well run? Is this the most effective way I can help a cause I care about?”

Eisenberg says he feels more confident about being an effective donor since taking the course, which featured Riccio’s interviews with all-star philanthropists like Warren Buffett, Patrick Dempsey and Cal Ripken Jr. Interviewees were selected because they were strategic in their giving. They gave with purpose.

Riccio defines giving with a purpose as satisfying two goals: (1) personal motivations for giving money and (2) giving money to high-performing organizations where it can make a real difference.

To encourage this approach to giving, Riccio invented a scoring system for evaluating charitable organizations known as the RISE framework. It’s likely that potential donors will evaluate you based on the four components that make up this framework:

    • Relevance  This includes how well the group articulates and understands the need it’s addressing; knows what works in response to the need; is connected to the community or individuals it serves; and does work that has meaning to the prospective donor.
    • Impact —This includes how well the group explains its results and holds itself accountable as well as whether supporting it will let you make a difference with your resources (money, time or both).
    • Sustainability — This includes how well the group has defined its business model; has demonstrated it has reliable revenue sources now and into the future; shows it manages its money effectively; and fits into your personal giving plan. One of Riccio’s tips to measure sustainability: Read a nonprofit’s tax return known as Form 990. You can get it online either from the group’s site or on sites of charity information providers, such as GuideStar or Charity Navigator.
    • Excellence in management and operations —This includes how well-qualified the executive director and board members are; how informative and professional the group’s marketing materials are; and whether you’ve done your own due diligence.

By using this framework, Riccio hopes “people [will] think of their charitable giving as an investment in the change they’d like to see in the world,” she told Eisenberg. It’s key that your organization be prepared to provide the kinds of information they’ll want to make educated decisions about their giving.

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Customer Care: Dos and Don’ts for Donors

Customer Care: Dos and Don’ts for Donors

A widow learned about a particular charity through a friend. She decided to donate because she was so taken with what the organization did for physically challenged children. She gave $50 online at the organization's website. She got a minimal receipt by email but never received a thank you letter in the mail nor any other communication from the organization. She never donated again.

Unfortunately, this is a true story. About.com Guide for Nonprofit Charitable Orgs Joanne Fritz recounted it in a recent article. Situations like this occur far too often and can easily be avoided when you have the right technology tools in place to manage your relationships with donors and other constituents. Fonteva For Associations, for example, is designed to make automating and monitoring communications with donors easy and efficient. Further, used in combination with a number of the apps on the Salesforce App Exchange, Fonteva For Associations enables organizations to optimize donor management, improve fundraising results and enhance outreach efforts. I wholeheartedly agree with Fritz’s assertion that “customer relationship management is just as crucial for nonprofit organizations as for any other type of business.” Her observations brought to mind some tried and true dos and don’ts for managing donors: Do

    • Respond to their questions quickly.
    • Establish policies for conducting all interactions with donors
    • Thank them quickly and often.
    • Share your success with them.

Don’t

...
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Get Moving on Mobile: Insights from U.S. Bank

Get Moving on Mobile: Insights from U.S. Bank

Take it away! This is the 19th in a series of posts that have been featured on Fonteva’s blog to highlight important strategies associations can take away from other industries. In today’s sixth-degrees-of-separation world, your members are assessing your association not just in comparison to similar organizations but in relation to the totality of their experiences as consumers. As such, we want to help you stay abreast of key trends and best practices, those takeaways that may benefit your association.

“We don’t know if the winning technology [for banking and payments combined] will be quick-response codes, near-field communication, or something else,” Niti Badarinath, senior vice president and head of mobile banking and money movement at U.S. Bancorp, aptly summed ups the state of mobile in the financial services industry.

He went on to observe, “We do know that waiting is not an option. We know we have to move.” This imperative to take action stems from “the sense that customer needs have gotten ahead of the bank’s ability to meet them.” Yet, according to American Banker, “in the past year, no bank in the country has innovated in mobile banking as much as U.S. Bank.”

Badarinath’s main objective is to “get head of that curve” by trying “many things,” but being “very mindful about what we’re doing” and “very calculated about metrics.” I would suggest that associations are in a similar position as they determine how best to leverage the mobile channel.

Badarinath was recently recognized as Bank Technology News’ Digital Banker of the Year. Last week in an interview with the publication’s editor-in-chief Penny Crosman, he highlighted some key strategies that have helped the bank be innovative in moving forward with its mobile/digital strategy. Here are two that would be relatively simple for most organizations to implement:

Host innovation jams. The bank holds “innovation jams” where leaders from different groups that have digital products talk about their business needs and their customers' needs. Heads of credit cards, checking accounts, mortgage products, branches and call centers are included. Badarinath is then responsible for rationalizing and prioritizing the list of potential innovations.

Create an innovation lab. Badarinath and the bank’s technology group have built an innovation lab they refer to as a “sandbox” for testing new technologies. According to him the lab is a well-contained environment that “lets us do internal and vendor-driven tests.” He believes that having an innovation lab on site allows his team to quickly develop new products and test them out on employees: “It enables us to refine, iterate more quickly and get to market more quickly.”

So far these tactics seems to be working. Last year the bank introduced mobile photo bill payments and launched an app that permits customers to apply for a balance transfer to a U.S. Bank credit card by taking a picture of a credit card statement. It also saw mobile banking usage grow by 37 percent.

Even if you aren’t a multi-billion-dollar corporation, you can encourage innovation within your organization, particularly around the mobile channel. When we envisioned the ideal cloud-based AMS, we knew it had to be fully mobile. Fonteva For Associations is completely mobile for users and members. Users can login to the database from any Internet enabled device, and constituents can access the portal and enjoy touch screen navigation from a mobile device.

We wanted to help our customers get – and keep – moving on mobile.

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Best in the Business: Lessons in Entrepreneurship from HBO’s Silicon Valley

Best in the Business: Lessons in Entrepreneurship from HBO’s Silicon Valley

TAKEAWAY THURSDAY

Take it away! This is the 18th in a series of posts that have been featured on Fonteva’s blog to highlight important strategies associations can take away from other industries. In today’s sixth-degrees-of-separation world, your members are assessing your association not just in comparison to similar organizations but in relation to the totality of their experiences as consumers. As such, we want to help you stay abreast of key trends and best practices, those takeaways that may benefit your association.

You’re likely familiar with the phrase, “Life imitates art.” Or is it the other way around? With the almost meteoric rise of reality TV as a mainstay of modern culture, it’s more difficult to determine whether art is driving our real-life pursuits or vice versa.

In any case, lessons can be learned from almost any experience – real or imagined – if you’re open to all different kinds of perspectives. Along these lines, consider HBO’s new comedy series “Silicon Valley.” I tend to agree with About.com Guide Amanda McCormick’s observation that this show gets “quite a few things right about starting a business.”

Here are three key concepts she takes from the show:

1- “No risk, reward.” According to McCormick, from the very first episode, Pied Piper’s founder is faced with the conundrum that so often presents itself to entrepreneurial types “take the money and run” by selling their interest, and possibly their original vision, to the highest bidder or relying on smaller investments and maintaining control of enterprise.

2- “Protect your assets.” Two episodes later, the company enters into negotiations to buy the name “Pied Piper” from a sprinkler company of the same name also based in California. McCormick notes, “Many entrepreneurs face the same challenges around naming their business and selecting a domain name. As with all negotiations, it really pays to do your homework and approach the process calmly and with plenty of preparation.”

3- “Be careful who you surround yourself with.” McCormick recounts this scenario: “As soon as Pied Piper begins to take off, everyone wants a piece of the startup’s success. A lot of the comedy in the series hinges on the relationship between founder Richard and Erlich Bachmann, the mercurial founder of the ‘incubator’ that originally supported Pied Piper's founding. While you may never be in Richard’s shoes, promising equity while drunk at a toga party, your business success is all about whom you surround yourself with.”

Association executives are not unlike these entrepreneurs as they navigate the various challenges and opportunities facing their organizations. To remain competitive and strategically focused, they will need to both learn from and sometimes become like their counterparts in the for-profit business world. However, each new venture must be carefully assessed in terms of how risky or rewarding it will be as well as the impact it may have on the association’s assets and relationships.

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Cash for Content: A New Source of Non-Dues Revenue or a Hotbed of Conflict?

Cash for Content: A New Source of Non-Dues Revenue or a Hotbed of Conflict?

Sponsored content, also known as native advertising, has been the source of much conversation and controversy. All the chatter has associations wondering if they should attempt to tap into this potentially lucrative source of non-dues revenue.

Of course, every organization is different. What is acceptable to one segment of members may not be to another. But how will you know if you don’t test this strategy? I share a view Monica Bussolati, content strategy director for design firm Bussolati, recently expressed in a post to her blog.

“I simply do not see any problems with the concept of it,” she writes about sponsored content. We don’t either. When we developed Fonteva For Associations, we built in the capacity to feature ads or other content within our member portals. We saw this component as an added opportunity for associations to generate non-dues revenue.

At the same time, I also agree with Bussolati’s assertion that “There are responsibilities that come with delivering a program of sponsored content.” She highlighted three:

• Full transparency to the audience, which is easy.
• The content must be relevant and useful, judged with strict criteria
• The person who decides about the content should not be the person who decides or negotiates about the money.

With careful planning and execution, sponsored content can benefit the association and its members. I like the way Bussolati sums this up: Sponsored content, by any other name, is a gift to your audience when done well.”

As with any decision, each organization will need to carefully weigh the pros and cons of sponsored content. However, if you follow the basic rules of road outlined here, you’ll be well on your way to developing an effective sponsored content strategy. We’re certainly glad that we’ve made the option available to our customers.

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Making Your Mark with Millennials: 5 Keys to Being Their Preferred Employer

Making Your Mark with Millennials: 5 Keys to Being Their Preferred Employer

The Millennials are coming! The Millennials are coming! This seems to have been the rallying cry in almost every sector and industry for close to a decade. In general we are concerned about what they wear, how they think and what motivates them to take action.

I’ve been witness to many discussions about how associations can attract this group as members. This is a worthwhile dialogue. However, the discussion about marketing membership to Millennials might be expanded to include attracting them to nonprofit employers.

In a recent interview with Forbes staff writer Kathryn Dill, Nancy Altobello, vice chair of talent at EY (Ernst & Young), offered her perspective on how organizations can attract top talent among the pool of recent college graduates. Here are the five points she emphasized:

    1. They’re not all running for the door–if you can keep them interested.  “We’re starting to hear from a lot of people who’ve had two jobs in three years and want to stay somewhere,” she says. “But the work has to be interesting; they don’t want to keep doing the same thing.”
    2. When it comes to compensation, cash is still king. In this way millennials are just like professionals at every other stage of their careers; the best way to attract and keep the best and brightest is to pay them well.
    3. To younger professionals, flexibility is almost as important as salary. “People are looking for approval around flexibility.”
    4. Millennials want to be regularly evaluated and advance quickly–but they’ll do the work to get there. “They want the trophies,” says Altobello, “but they’re very willing to earn them.”
    5. On-the-job training is essential. “So many skills are teachable and coachable. Most important is on-the-job training. Move them fast through a lot of experiences.”

These are important points to consider as we build the workforce of the future. We all want good people, who do good work. And we must be willing to market ourselves appropriately to those employment prospects we most desire.
 

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App of the Month: On Tour with Salesforce1

App of the Month: On Tour with Salesforce1

Yes, there probably is an app for that, for just about anything you want to accomplish professionally and personally. But how do you know which apps are the best ones for your association?

So far this year, I’ve highlighted four apps from the Salesforce App Exchange so that you could get a better idea of what’s available and may be most useful to you in your work. Today we are participating in the Salesforce1 World Tour event in D.C. We are proud to be a gold sponsor of this event, and the fifth app that I would like to highlight is the Salesforce1 Mobile App.

Powered by the Salesforce1 Platform, this app makes Salesforce and all your modules instantly mobile. And there’s no coding required. The Salesforce1 Mobile App, available for free on both Apple and Android devices, enables organizations to customize the mobile experience for everyone. For associations, this is especially important to their staff and members. Both groups can easily access Salesforce from anywhere at any time. They can essentially “run [the association’s] business from [their] phones.”

One user’s review emphasizes the functionality of the app:

“This is a great app with most of the functionality needed to work on the road from your phone or tablet. The app is intuitive and easy to use, and the best part is that it actually works.”

Another review highlights the app’s flexibility:

“All I can say is love! Everything you need [is] at your fingertips! [You have] visibility to real time (even in the elevator). And I love how easy it is for admins to configure for their orgs uniqueness.”

Still another review speaks to the app’s integrative quality:

“Eighty percent of my users are mobile in the field every day. Until now, I’ve had to hack together mobile Platform Solutions using combinations of the Salesforce app, Chatter, logger, and half a dozen other Platform Solutions. Salesforce1 is the first time I’ve been able to find an app that does everything I need and that is customizable to meet our business process needs. We’ve been able to put our entire process into the app.”

Given this functionality, think of the time and efficiencies your association’s different departments could gain using Saleforce1. Read more online to see if this app might be right for your organization.

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Governance Gone Wild: 5 Common Mistakes Boards Make

governance-homepage-image-slider-2 In my experience, governance issues are always top of mind for association executives. Countless articles and books have been written about how they can manage their boards most effectively. Because we knew this was such a critical area, we developed Fonteva For Associations with robust committee management features, such as defining and assigning committee positions and management structures, communicating with entire committees, tracking, publishing and distributing committee documents and minutes; and creating individual committee calendars and discussion forums. Certainly, while it’s an important component, we recognize that good governance goes beyond effective committee management. Ongoing attention to how people, processes, and politics are managed is critical. Recently I came across an article by Ellis M. Carter, an attorney at Carter Law Group in Phoenix. Carter outlines the top 10 nonprofit governance mistakes from a legal perspective. Here I’ve briefly summarized five of her key points.
  1. Failing to understand fiduciary duties. It is no longer sufficient to rubber stamp committee or staff recommendations or to simply “abstain” from dicey decisions. Today, board service comes with real responsibilities and real consequences for those that fail to live up to them.
  1. Micro-managing staff. The board’s key duties are to provide oversight and strategic direction, not to meddle in the organization’s day to day affairs. Similarly, staff should not invite micromanagement by asking the board to take on day-to-day tasks that the staff should be handling. The size and budget of smaller organizations necessitates some blurring of these lines, but board members and staff should know their roles and attempt to adhere to them as much as possible.
  1. Lack of awareness of laws governing tax-exempts. It is essential that directors of tax-exempt entities be aware of the various federal, state, and local laws that apply to the organization. Many directors are unaware whether they are governing a private foundation, a public charity, a supporting organization, or another form of tax-exempt entity, all of which are subject to different limits on their activities.
  1. Operating with outdated, inconsistent governing documents. Over time, many organizations change their mission and purpose without updating their governing documents. Similarly, many organizations develop governance practices that do not comply with their original governing documents.
  1. Airing disagreements outside the boardroom. Every board’s motto should be “what happens in the boardroom stays in the boardroom.” Inherent in the duty of loyalty that all board members must adhere to, is an implied duty of confidentiality.
None of these issues may be a concern for your organization. However, it’s probably good to keep a mental check on these areas to be sure that your governance hasn’t gone wild.
Related Content Make it Habit: 3 Things That Set Highly Effective Boards Apart from the Rest 3 Factors for Association Management to Consider When Determining Board Size Why Must Board Members Use Association Management Software?
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Associations Could Get More Benefit from Cloud Computing & Member Engagement Metrics: Insights from digitalNow

Associations Could Get More Benefit from Cloud Computing & Member Engagement Metrics: Insights from digitalNow

TAKEAWAY TUESDAY

Take it away! This is the 17th in a series of posts that have been featured on Fonteva’s blog to highlight important strategies associations can take away from other industries. However, this week I would like to focus on key takeaways from a recent association industry event.

Last week, digitalNow brought CEOs, CIOs, CFOs, and COOs from some of the most influential professional and trade associations in the country to Nashville to discuss the key issues facing their community in the digital age. We were pleased to be there to offer our experience and expertise to association executives as they continue to grapple with any number of challenges.

Chief among those seems to be determining how cloud computing can positively impact their organizations. Some are still “spinning up” servers when for a variety of reasons, cloud computing might be a better option. Further, there could be more awareness around how major cloud computing companies like Salesforce and Google are providing free enterprise level software to qualified nonprofit organizations and how apps in the marketplace can make these enterprise Platform Solutions relevant for associations. Now more than ever, we are committed to providing the association community with the most current information about these important resources.

Another challenge seems to be developing processes to more effectively manage and measure member engagement. While a few of the better known vendors appear to be focused on this area, I had hoped to see more people in attendance at the Managing and Scoring Member Engagement session. Many organizations seem to place measuring individual program impact and results above developing a weighted scoring system for determining engagement.

A fair amount of discussion at the session dealt with what to measure and how to apply a weighted average to each type of member engagement. It was clear that most organizations would like to expand their capacity to track and measure different types of engagement. The underlying advice seemed to be to take what you have, with the resources you have, and do what you can today. Don’t wait for perfection.

For me, this is the primary takeaway for associations in general. It is critical that they begin exploring and implementing new technology Platform Solutions sooner rather than later. Sure, it may not be all systems go at first. However, to sustain themselves for the long-term, associations must be willing to aim for the clouds.

The theme for this year’s conference was G.R.I.T. The “T” stands for “Tech Adept.” Whether you were able to attend digitalNow in person or weren’t able to make the journey, this annual gathering of your colleagues serves as an excellent reminder to have ongoing discussions about the state of your association’s technology. We look forward to continuing to help shape that dialogue. 

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Satisfaction Guaranteed in Just 10 Seconds

Satisfaction Guaranteed in Just 10 Seconds

Do you find that staff in your member services department rush members off the phone? If they do, that’s a missed opportunity for sure. A member who’s taken the time to call your association directly is likely an engaged member, and staff need to see value in determining how to keep them that way by finding out if there’s anything else you can do to improve their experience and level of satisfaction.

This concept of “taking a few extra seconds to find another way to help members (guests) and then improve their experience and level of satisfaction” comes from Walt Disney World’s guest relations as Robert C. Harris, CAE, noted association management expert, shares on his website The Nonprofit Center.

“We can do the same with member calls,” Harris writes. “Before hanging up, practice taking just 10 seconds longer to ask them a satisfaction-question.” Here are five that I particularly like:

    • Is there anything else I can help you with today?
    • Did you receive the most recent newsletter?
    • Are you planning to attend the upcoming conference?
    • Can I help you with any other membership questions?
    • Would you like to speak with anyone else in the office?

Taking just 10 seconds longer on the phone with a member could provide you with a wealth of information. Even better, if you’re using a flexible AMS like Fonteva For Associations, it will be easy for you to record, track and report on that information.

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For Immediate Release: 5 Tips for Making Your PR Social Media Friendly

  news-socialYes, there is an “S” in PR, and it stands for social. Like so many of your association’s traditional communications, press releases have gone social. This tried and true method of publicizing your events, product releases, partnerships, and other milestones is still worthwhile, but with a few added tweaks for the digital age. Cision, a provider of global PR software and services, recently posted a tip sheet for creating social media releases. I would like to highlight five of those tips here: 1-     Tell the story in your own words. Instead of posting your story in the typical style of a press release, put on your journalist hat and write it as if you were reporting on it yourself. Use quotes and descriptive, non-industry speak to make your story stand out from all the rest. 2-     Use multimedia to support your story. Studies have shown that the more multimedia you add to your story, the more engaging it is. While most text-only news releases just get viewed, it’s the ones with videos, infographics and photos that are most shared on social networks. 3-     Keep your social pitch under 120 characters. Your social pitch helps people easily share your story and should be tailor-made for microblogs like Twitter. With this in mind, keep your social pitch under 120 characters to allow others enough space to retweet and not cut off your pitch. 4-     Pull out short, relevant facts. People gravitate to – and are more likely to share – short, easily digestible snippets of information from a story. Pull some interesting facts from your story and put them in the Quick Facts section. This section not only immediately engages your audience but also makes it easier for them to tweet these facts to their followers. 5-     Create relevant and engaging content. None of these tips will matter if you don’t start with stories that your audience actually cares about. It may sound obvious, but there’s a lot of content being promoted that isn’t interesting to anyone, let alone your customers. So start thinking like them, or, better yet, ask them what they’d like to hear about. Willingness to adapt their communications vehicles to various distribution channels will serve associations well now and in the future. Related Content Paper and Pixels for PR: Follow Beyonce’s Example  
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