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Featured Fontevan: Brad Cairncross

Featured Fontevan: Brad Cairncross

The Outdoorsman

Brad Cairncross is a Business Analyst on Fonteva’s Customer Success team. He’s pictured here with his girlfriend at Everest Base Camp in Nepal last year.

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Look Who’s Leading Now: T. Swift Turns Apple Around

Look Who’s Leading Now: T. Swift Turns Apple Around

Earlier this year, Fortune Magazine ranked Taylor Swift no. 6 on its list of “The World’s Greatest Leaders,” and many people were shocked, even outraged, by Swift’s inclusion in the group. Some took to social media to express their displeasure (as reported in The Washington Post):

One commenter said, “Fortune has lost my respect.” On Twitter, one former CEO wrote, “Fortune Magazine’s definition of leader needs some explaining.” In a way, I agree with this observation. What makes this scenario interesting is the manner in which it illustrates how definitions of leadership are changing.

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Virtual Law Offices Get Thumbs Up from NYC Bar Association

Virtual Law Offices Get Thumbs Up from NYC Bar Association

By now the pressing need for mobility and virtual access to information has touched your association in some way, whether it was internally or externally. We certainly anticipated the trend towards mobile access to information from anywhere at any time on any device when we designed Fonteva For Associations. And our customers consistently rate the solution’s mobility as one of their favorite features.

It’s evident that the expectation of being able to work virtually, which often means more efficiently, is being addressed in all sectors. Last June the New York City Bar’s Committee on Professional Ethics issued an opinion stating that virtual offices are acceptable as principal places of business. This was not always the case. More than a decade ago, the state bar association has issued an opinion indicating that lawyers could not use websites and email addresses to meet their ethics requirement.

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Featured Fontevan: Dagmar Sousa

Featured Fontevan: Dagmar Sousa

The Self-Starter

“Working for a start-up prepared me for all types of challenges in the work place,” says Dagmar Sousa, who recently joined Fonteva as a Project Manager.

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Take a Hike

Take a Hike

Have you been mulling over a difficult decision that you just can’t seem to finalize? Or perhaps you’ve read the same few lines of a document multiple times and still can’t make sense of it? Rather than beating your head ahead the proverbial wall, it might actually do you some good to get outside and clear your head.

“Spending time outdoors, in nature, is good for you,” writes Washington Post Reporter Chris Mooney in a recent article that provides an overview of the latest research confirming the mental and physical benefits of spending time outdoors. It’s a cognitive neuroscience study by Stanford’s Gregory Bratman and several colleagues from the United States and Sweden and was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences at the end of last month.

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The Benefits of a Broader Board

The Benefits of a Broader Board

By now you’re familiar with Jim Collins’s adage about having the right people on the bus to take your organization from good to great. According to Collins, leaders begin this process by “getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.”

As you plan for your association’s future, it’s worth considering this advice within the context of your governance structure. Are the right people on the board bus to lead your organization towards a sustainable future? More specifically, some organizations have started to evaluate whether board members with the right skill sets are represented on their boards.

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Data Dos and Don’ts for Technology Implementation and Beyond

Data Dos and Don’ts for Technology Implementation and Beyond

Your association's best defense against bad data is putting processes and strategies in place to manage the quality of your information more effectively. Taking these measures is especially important if your organization is implementing a new technology solution.

“Nothing sinks a new implementation faster than bad data,” writes Tal Frankfurt, founder and CEO of Cloud for Good, in a recent article for Nonprofit Technology Network. “Users will quickly lose faith in the tool as well as those leading the implementation effort if incomplete, incorrect, or irrelevant data is present.”

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Be Independent! Get Your Data Anywhere at Any Time

Be Independent! Get Your Data Anywhere at Any Time

According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, more than 15,000 fireworks displays will occur on the Fourth of July in honor of America’s birthday. Many of us will attend BBQs in honor of the occasion as well.

As the nation pauses to recognize and commemorate the freedoms that we are afforded, we’re celebrating another kind of independence: the freedom to access your association’s data from anywhere at any time.

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Who’s Who Wednesday: Kent Nutt

Who’s Who Wednesday: Kent Nutt

Throughout 2015, we'll give the blogosphere the opportunity to get to know our clients better. To that end, we're continuing our monthly feature, Who's Who Wednesday.

This month we're pleased to introduce you to Kent Nutt, communications director for The Academy of Medicine, Engineering & Science of Texas (TAMEST) in Austin, which promotes broader recognition of the state's top achievers in medicine, engineering, and science, and builds a stronger identity for Texas as an important destination and center of achievement in these fields.

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Data Management: 3 Lessons from the Healthcare Industry

Data Management: 3 Lessons from the Healthcare Industry

Your association's relationship with data—how you obtain, manage, and use it—is getting more complex. The kinds of data that you request from members has also changed along with their expectations for the level of access they will have to this data once they share it with you. For most associations that we've communicated with around these issues, many questions still remain.

However, there's another industry that's already been through a major transition in terms of how it regards data. I agree with Susan Solomon's assertion that "the healthcare industry's experience in obtaining and sharing data offers important lessons for all [industries]."

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Cooling Off Conflict: An Important Leadership Skill

Cooling Off Conflict: An Important Leadership Skill

Most managers would like nothing better than for all of their employees to get along. Well, by all accounts, that's wishful thinking. Conflict seems to be a built-in component of the workplace.

A 2008 study on workplace conflict found that U.S. employees spent 2.8 hours per week dealing with conflict. More recent studies indicate that more than two-thirds of managers spend more than 10 percent of their time handling workplace conflict.

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4 Good Board Habits from Higher Ed

4 Good Board Habits from Higher Ed

"Most boards of colleges and universities don't reach their fullest potential for effective governance. In fact, many may suffer from boardroom dysfunctions that might not be fully apparent."
—Rick Legion, President, Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges

I found Legion's observation very relevant in the context of the work that we do with both higher ed institutions and associations. Perhaps, your association's board has mastered governance, and there's no room for improvement. However, for most boards across various disciplines, there is usually some aspect of their work that they can improve upon.

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Determining the Value of Video: 3 Key Metrics

Determining the Value of Video:  3 Key Metrics

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is easily worth two or three times that amount. As a culture, we love video.

Many associations have responded to this trend by using video to communicate with their members in a variety of ways. From testimonial videos encouraging their attendance at annual meetings to educational videos explaining how to participate in grassroots advocacy, videos have become a key component of organizations' overall communications strategy.

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Evaluating E-Commerce Trends: What Association Leaders Need to Know

Evaluating E-Commerce Trends: What Association Leaders Need to Know

Have you shopped online this month? A recent report from public relations firm Walker Sands indicates that 68 percent of U.S. consumers shop online at least once per month. So they really like shopping online, and your association's members likely among them.

A research writer for MarketingProfs and an independent digital strategist, Ayaz Nanji highlighted other key findings from the report, which was based on survey data of more than 1,400 U.S. consumers:

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Time to Retreat: Steps to Take before the Board Begins

Time to Retreat:  Steps to Take before the Board Begins

The dates don't fit with my schedule. Is this the best use of our time? You may have heard these common objections to holding board retreats.

However, Barry J. Entwistle, director of leadership for the New York State School Boards Association, argues that "a small investment in targeted board training could pay big dividends." According to Entwistle's article "Why Annual Retreats Are Essential," NYSSBA recommends that every school governance team hold a retreat at least once a year.

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Social Status: 5 Best Practices from Top Companies

Social Status: 5 Best Practices from Top Companies

What's the status of your association's social media efforts? Are you doing the same thing you've always done? If that's the case, it may be time re-evaluate your current social media strategy.
Recently, 500 communicators met in Atlanta for Social Media Today's Social Shake-Up 2015. They talked about how social media has changed how we perceive communication, participation, and value.

During this two-day event, these social thought leaders shared best practices, and "the top takeaways" from the first day were recapped on Cision.com. Here are five that stood out for me within the context our ongoing conversations with associations:

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Get Employees Excited: 3 Strategies for Managers

Get Employees Excited: 3 Strategies for Managers

It used to be that managing employees was synonymous with simply telling them what to do. However, while telling people what to do might result in basic tasks being completed, this is not the management strategy to employ if you want to move your organization forward strategically.

According to Kelly Decker and Ben Decker, experts in the field of business communication and authors of Communicate to Influence: How to Inspire Your Audience to Action, "several trends suggest that it's no longer enough to lead by authority." In their recent article for Harvard Business Review, they suggest that "no one wants another checklist task that they have to complete."

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4 Ways to Recruit New Board Members

4 Ways to Recruit New Board Members

You want them, but do they want you? Recruiting new board members for your association can be challenging. Finding the right people to serve at the right time may require some creativity. Stone Soup, a blog hosted by Ascend Nonprofit Consulting, recently featured a post highlighting 25 fun, creative ways to recruit board members.
Here are four worth considering as associations evaluate their strategy for recruiting new board members:

  1. Coordinate a board member swap. Select four organizations in your community in which you currently don't know anyone, but would like to. Ask the officers on your board set up a meeting with one of those organizations during which they will suggest that your two groups recommend "retiring" board members to each other when their terms are completed, as a way of establishing organizational links and strengthening ties among communities.
  2. Foster relationships with young nonprofit professionals. The Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) serves thousands of emerging nonprofit sector leaders in chapters across the country. Many of them are looking for new and diverse leadership experiences to add to their resumes. Why not get them engaged your organization?
  3. Solicit press coverage that brings you leadership. Contact your local newspaper reporters, radio hosts, and local public programming stations about doing a feature piece on your organization. In an increasingly competitive market for 'air time,' donations, and other resources, the media can be your best advocate in helping you stand out from other organizations that you're competing with for board talent.
  4. Scan community newspapers for retirement announcements. Send recent retirees in your community a note saying, "Congratulations on your retirement! Even though your work life may be changing, you'll still want to remain active and involved our community – here's how!" Invite them for coffee and if it feels like a there's an alignment of interests, extend an invitation to sit in on a board meeting.

Most associations have nominating committees with specific protocols for recruiting new board members. However, this shouldn't prevent them from being a little creative to ensure the recruitment of more board members.

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Creating SOWs for Consultants (and Not FAQs)

Creating SOWs for Consultants (and Not FAQs)

Your association may decide to engage a consultant to help you identify and implement your technology strategy. Some of our customers have found it useful to have an outside perspective on how they could better leverage technology to advance the missions of their organizations.

It's important that these relationships get off to a good start. One of the ways to ensure that there's no confusion about what's expected is for the association to develop a detailed statement of work (SOW) clearly outlining its needs and specifications for potential consultants.

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Understanding the Truth about Leadership

Understanding the Truth about Leadership

Leading is definitely not the easiest endeavor to embark upon. In fact, when I think of most successful leaders, one phrase comes to mind: "It comes with the territory." This phrase is generally used when someone in a leadership role experiences difficulty of some kind.

If you're an effective leader, chances are you'll experience just as many tribulations as you do triumphs. In article for Inc. Magazine, Lolly Daskal, president and CEO of Lead Within, highlighted "12 Hard Truths about Leadership" that she believes all leaders need to incorporate into their lives to be successful more times than not. Here are five that resonated with me:

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