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Bad Boards: 3 Scenarios to Avoid

Bad Boards: 3 Scenarios to Avoid

"Get me out of here!" Certainly, this isn't the reaction you want from new board members once they begin serving your association. Yet, all too often, that's just how they feel for a variety of reasons.

In a recent article, Robert C. Harris, CAE, noted that "while associations seek leaders, the culture of the board may not be so welcoming." Harris went on to describe several scenarios that leave board members "feeling trapped" and looking for a way out. I've chosen three to highlight here.

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Get Active: 3 Keys to Managing Your Database

Get Active: 3 Keys to Managing Your Database

"In order to get the most value from your AMS, you have to actively manage the database."
—Wes Trochlil

I wholeheartedly agree with this observation. An AMS is only as effective as the data it contains. To maintain high-quality data, associations must actively manage it.

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Checking In: An Exercise for Board Meetings

Checking In: An Exercise for Board Meetings

Do you show up for every meeting on your schedule focused and prepared to participate? As much as you would like this to be the case, there have been times when all of us haven't had our minds fully on the task at hand.

And your association's board members are no exception. It's important to remember that no matter how dedicated they are to your mission, they have other responsibilities, both professional and personal.

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Our DigitalNow Pre-Show Guide

Our DigitalNow Pre-Show Guide

Tomorrow DigitalNow, the premiere event focusing on association leadership in the digital age, gets under way. The theme for this year's conference—"Unlocking your Future: Purpose, Process, People"— seems particularly appropriate in the context of how we approach working with our customers.

First and foremost, we encourage them to think about technology in terms of what tools are critical to the successful fulfillment of their strategic goals and purposes. Technology should facilitate these efforts, not hinder them.

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Put out the Welcome Mat: 5 Tips for Engaging New Members

Put out the Welcome Mat: 5 Tips for Engaging New Members

If you think back to your first day in a new school or your first day on a new job, you'll remember that being "new" is never particularly easy. It can take time to get used to your new environment and figure out how you fit it.

Often new members of associations experience similar emotions. It's important to engage them in activities quickly so that they feel like a part of the organization. Seattle-based association management company SBI Management Services offers "Nine Tips on Engaging New Members in an Association." I've highlighted five that I find particularly relevant and useful:

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Featured Fontevan: Matt Anderson

Featured Fontevan: Matt Anderson

Change and Challenge: The Perfect Combo
"The software/applications development field is always changing and evolving," says Fonteva Business Analyst Matthew Anderson of his chosen profession. "It's dynamic, and I like to constantly be challenged at work."

Not one to shy away from a challenge, Matt graduated from University of Maryland, College Park, after being out of school 20 years and while working full-time. He saw Fonteva as he next stop on his educational journey. "I wanted to develop my skills in Salesforce," he says, "and working with Fonteva was the perfect opportunity to do that."

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Be a Leader at Work

Be a Leader at Work

The question of whether people are born leaders or they become them has been debated for quite some time. In my view, opportunities present themselves every day to show leadership in the workplace.

For associations, it's especially important to have staff members who want to take on leadership roles as they grow in their profession.
Careerealism.com recently posted "7 Tips for Becoming a Leader at Work." I've highlighted three of them here:

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Getting “Bored” Members Re-Engaged

Getting “Bored” Members Re-Engaged

Not participating in meetings or failing to attend them at all is a sign that board members may be disengaged. As important as they are to associations achieving their strategic objectives, it's critical that board members be engaged.

An article in Board Forward, a monthly e-newsletter published by association management and services company Smith Bucklin, highlighted this point: "With the many challenges facing associations, few boards can afford to have disengaged members."

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Cultivating Chapters: 4 Member Engagement Tips

Cultivating Chapters: 4 Member Engagement Tips

A tree is only as strong as its weakest branch. This paraphrase of an age-old adage aptly sums up both the primary opportunity and challenge facing associations that have chapters or components.

Viable, engaged chapters can strengthen the organization's mission and broaden its influence. At the same time, disengaged, dissatisfied components can be centers of conflict that will eventually weaken the entire organization.

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Featured Fontevan: Matt Brown

Featured Fontevan: Matt Brown

Salesforce Saves Lives

Ok, that might be a bit of an overstatement, but it aptly describes the life and times of Matt Brown, Fonteva's Director of Solution Architecture & Communities. Matt joined the IT field after working as a paramedic for six years where he delivered four babies. He and his wife then relocated to the U.S. from England.

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Tough Times Take Leadership: 5 Strategies

Tough Times Take Leadership: 5 Strategies

"When the going gets tough, the tough get going." This well-known, often quoted proverb put into song by eighties singer Billy Ocean has become the anthem for managing difficult situations. However, when it comes to taking on a leadership role during a difficult time for your association, it takes more than being tough. In fact, employees sometimes need just the opposite from those around them in leadership roles.

In its guide to management, The Wall Street Journal included a section on how to motivate workers in tough times. Here are five strategies the WSJ guide highlighted that I believe are important to keep in mind when leading in tough times:

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And the Survey Says…Board Members Could Be More Engaged

And the Survey Says…Board Members Could Be More Engaged

There always seems to be room for improvement, and getting your association's board members more engaged is no exception. According to the 2015 Survey on Boards of Directors of Nonprofit Organizations conducted by Stanford University in collaboration with BoardSource and GuideStar, "many directors are not engaged and do not understand their obligations."

Here are some key findings from the survey:
• Almost half (48 percent) do not believe that their fellow board members are very engaged in their work, based on the time they dedicate to their organization and their reliability in fulfilling their obligations.
• About half (47 percent) of nonprofit directors believe that their fellow board members understand their obligations as directors well or very well.

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Metrics for Member Engagement in Online Communities

Metrics for Member Engagement in Online Communities

Most associations that we've met with during the last five years have expressed more than a passing interest in implementing technology Platform Solutions that enable them to measure their members' level of engagement with their organizations. The commitment to measure is a good first step. However, determining what to measure is even more critical.

Even with a solution as flexible as Fonteva For Associations, our customers still need to have conversations internally to arrive at consensus about which metrics are most important for measuring successful engagement. Of course, there are certain metrics, like renewal rates and number of new members, which seem to be at top of the list for most associations.

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3 Leadership Lessons from MOM

3 Leadership Lessons from MOM

This weekend families across the nation will spend time celebrating their moms in honor of Mother's Day. Along with the tender loving care they are known for, moms also possess important leadership skills. MOM might as well stand for "must operate methodically." Like all great leaders, moms are challenged with finding a method to the "madness" they face in balancing competing objectives and priorities.

There are a few lessons we could all take from moms, and Dr. Nancy D. O'Reilly, author of Leading Women: 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business, and Life (Adams Media, 2015) highlights several key traits that make moms effective leaders.

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A New Era of “App-ability” for AMS: Fonteva Plays Key Role

A New Era of “App-ability” for AMS: Fonteva Plays Key Role

"Is the traditional AMS in trouble?" David Martin posed this provocative question in a post to Inbound MarTech's blog. For us, the answer is evident. In many respects, the traditional AMS no longer meets the needs of future-focused associations, especially those, as Martin suggested, "looking to improve their technology ecosystems."

It's not so much that the traditional AMS is in trouble, but that it ends up causing associations more trouble than it's worth. Too many organizations are forced into costly upgrades and/or making due with inflexible systems that don't meet their current or future needs. Meanwhile the expectations of their members only grow.

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Take Marketing Personally

Take Marketing Personally

You members want you to get personal with them. Recent research shows that consumers prefer customized offers. According to the Accenture Personalization Survey, nearly 60 percent of consumers want real-time offers and promotions.

As such, personalization can be a key factor in engaging your association's members. In a recent MarketingProfs article, Roz Lemieux outlines five steps that can help associations deliver personalized communications and experiences to their members. Here they are:

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Working Word-of-Mouth: 3 Tactics

Working Word-of-Mouth: 3 Tactics

These days, if people are talking about you, it could be a really good thing. Word-of-mouth marketing, which is "any business action that earns a customer recommendation" (Word of Mouth Marketing Association), is critical to the success of most brands – including your association's.

Brian Conlin, a content marketing manager for Cision, recently highlighted "5 Ways to Engage with Word-of-Mouth." I've summarized three of them here.

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Avoiding Board-Staff Conflicts

Avoiding Board-Staff Conflicts

What would you do if one of your association's board members took a problem public? Well, besides cringing, it would be important to consider what breakdown in board-staff communication led to such a departure from standard operating procedure, which would be first, to avoid miscommunication and second, to resolve any issues internally.

A recent online dispute between former Bitcoin Foundation Executive Director Patrick Murck and board member Olivier Janssens put a spotlight on board-staff conflicts and the pitfalls to avoid when they arise. In a recent post to ASAE's Leadership Blog, Associations Now Contributing Editor Mark Athitakis offered his perspective on the situation at Bitcoin.

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Data Cleansing Is Everyone’s Job

Data Cleansing Is Everyone’s Job

"How many workplaces do you know that have no easy way to flag data errors?" InsightSquared Founder and Chief of Product & Marketing Samuel Clemens posed this important question on the company's Sales & Marketing Analytics blog. InsightSquared is the #1 SalesForce analytics app for data-driven business executives and their teams.

As I conclude a month of posts discussing data hygiene and quality, it seemed to me that his question is at the heart of why many organizations experience data quality issues. When a staff member at your association encounters a mistake in your membership database, how easy is it for him or her to report the error so that it can be corrected? A missing digit in a phone number or an incorrect address might seem minor.

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Deep in the Heart of Apps: Texas Associations Take on Technology

Deep in the Heart of Apps: Texas Associations Take on Technology

As I prepare to travel to Austin next week to participate in Tech Talks 2015, my thoughts turned to the Lone Star State. The event, sponsored by the Texas Society of Association Executives, will be full day of programming addressing technology issues facing small to mid-sized associations.

Staff from organizations representing a variety of professions and industries, from insurance agents and professional engineers to construction and banking, will attend. I look forward to spending the day learning about their needs and sharing what we've learned from our work with associations.

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