Association Today

Association News You Can Use

Association Today is a blog authored by Paul Lundy that talks about the news and insights relevant to the association industry.

Every Little Bit Helps: Become a Micro Philanthropist

Every Little Bit Helps: Become a Micro Philanthropist

Twenty-six dollars might not seem like a lot of money, but it would mean the world to Mrs. Miller, a teacher at Ada B. Chesteron Elementary School in Easton, Pa., who needs crochet hooks, so her students can continue having their before-school crochet club or to Mr. Mr. Benson, a teacher at Central Junior High and High School in Tulsa, who would like 155 copies of Things Fall Apart, so his students will have books they can take home and have more time to read.

These are just two the classroom projects featured at DonorsChoose.org. Founder Charles Best created this web-based effort 14 years ago when he was a history teacher at a public high school in the Bronx. “Using pencil and paper, I drew a website where teachers could post classroom project requests and donors could choose a project they wanted to support,” Best writes recently in the Huffington Post’s Third Metric blog, which is dedicated to “redefining success beyond money and power.”

To illustrate the point, in what’s considered “a history-making move for the publishing world,” Arianna Huffington is donating profits from the sale of her new book Thrive to DonorsChoose.org. Even more interesting, each customer has the chance to become micro philanthropist. If you purchase the book by March 25 (anywhere you choose) and then go to www.donorschoose.org/thrive, you will receive a gift code the amount of $26 to spend on the classroom project of your choice.

So you get the book and your money back to help kids? This sounds like a recipe for success to me. In Best’s words, “I think it’s pretty cool that Arianna is donating profits from her book so that her readers can experience the joy of giving.”

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Underneath AMS Upgrades: Understanding the True Costs

Underneath AMS Upgrades: Understanding the True Costs

Do you really want to be upgraded? Often the connotation of upgrading is a positive one as in being upgraded to first class at no cost to you or for a nominal feel. On the other hand, many associations are finding out that upgrades to their AMS come with a significant cost, both from a financial perspective and a lost opportunity perspective.

According to the Lehman Reports “Annual Industry Study: Association Management Software Use and Satisfaction,” most associations enter into an AMS purchase process every four to five years. At Fonteva, we have been getting more and more calls from this group—associations determining whether to upgrade their current AMS or implement a new solution.

Naturally, their current vendors have encouraged them to upgrade. Associations are telling us fees quoted for AMS upgrades range from $30,000 to $90,000. That’s quite an investment, especially if you’re not truly happy with the functionality of your AMS, and you likely are going to be faced with this same decision in four or five years.

The Lehman study notes that “a major reason for upgrading a current AMS product is the expectation that the upgrade will address problems or bugs with the current software.”

However, this may not always be the case. And some organizations are beginning to wonder just which version of their AMS will actually provide everything that they need— and at what cost.

As we’ve talked with associations and offered guidance to them as they make these difficult decisions, I’ve found that most are shocked to learn what the cloud has to offer them. Cloud computing has come so far in the last three to five years. Now there are Platform Solutions available to them that weren’t previously.

The only AMS built 100 percent on the Salesforce platform, Fonteva For Associations is built to be the last AMS your association will ever need.  Because we built our app on a true public cloud platform, associations using it never have to go through a painful and costly upgrade and have greater flexibility in managing their data. Fonteva For Associations releases new functionality three times each year, as does Salesforce, and these upgrades are always free. Further, there are no added maintenance and support costs.

Fonteva For Associations is a true cloud AMS solution, which means all users are always on the latest version at all times. This is very different from traditional AMS Platform Solutions that require costly upgrades whenever migrating to a new version.

If it’s the time again for your association to make the choice between making an upgrade and implementing a new solution, I challenge you to compare the cost savings of a one-time move to a true public cloud AMS. When you remove the cost of upgrades, you’ll be amazed at the tremendous technology cost savings.  And best of all, you’ll put power at your members’ fingertips, and you’ll have more information that’s easier to access so that you can make better business decisions. Now that’s an upgrade.

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Get a Good Report Card

Get a Good Report Card

I don't know about your experiences growing up, but around many American households – including my own, report cards are a big deal. Both rewards and repercussions may be given out based on upon how well, or not so well, a student does. Access to social events, new clothes and even video games can rest on this one document.

According to Search Institute President and CEO Dr. Kent Perkel, by June, our nation’s elementary and secondary schools will have cumulatively issued more than 100 million report cards. In general, report cards describe and evaluate how well students are meeting the expectations that their teachers and schools have set for them. In most school systems, they are issued at least quarterly.

Interestingly, for close to a decade of our lives (even longer if you attend graduate school), we grow accustomed to receiving and referencing regular reports that evaluate our progress towards goals. Yet, sometimes the concept seems lost on us when we enter the workplace.

Given how much critical information they can provide about so many different aspects of their operations, one might think most associations would run reports on a daily, weekly, and/or monthly basis. Yet, we’ve found that many don’t because the process is so cumbersome when using their current AMS.

We wanted to make sure that Fonteva For Associations helped associations in this area rather than hindering them.  Our users can create custom reports without help from us or their IT department. And in most cases, they don’t have to pay additional fees.

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Who’s Who Wednesday: Christine Clark

Who’s Who Wednesday: Christine Clark

Throughout 2014, we want to give the blogosphere the opportunity to get to know the Fonteva team better. To that end, we're introducing a new monthly feature Who's Who Wednesday that will highlight a staff member.

This month we’re pleased to introduce you to senior project manager Christine Clark. Christine joined Fonteva 15 months ago.

In this role, she works with customers to implement Fonteva’s products to meet their specific business needs. She is a PMP certified project manager and a Salesforce.com certified administrator. She holds both a Bachelor of Science degree and an MBA from the University of Maine. Read on to learn more about her.

What's on your desk right now?

The head massager I got for Christmas, a can of soup, tissues, customer notes, and product design ideas.  And chocolate – lots of chocolate.

What's the best advice you ever got?

I once cried in front of my business school dean (a combination of stress and frustration I imagine). I was rather embarrassed, and he stopped and told me, “Don’t ever change.”

I took that as his way of telling me that it is okay to show weakness, and I should not be ashamed of who I am and how I react to things. It has changed the way I approach colleagues and made my work life significantly less stressful.

What's the most played song on your iPod?

I haven’t used my iPod since last summer because it’s much too cold to go out running for me, but I’ve been rocking out to The Band Perry on Pandora when I get really into a work task.

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

My boyfriend Joe and I have a goal of never going to the same restaurant twice. He loves to eat out, so we're making it a mission to try every restaurant in Alexandria and the greater DC area.

If you weren't working for Fonteva, what would you be doing?

Good question. Ideally, I would traveling the world with my backpack, but more likely working for a consulting firm and not enjoying my job nearly as much.

What is your favorite blog?

I spend my spare Internet time on Reddit.

What is your favorite Fonteva For Associations feature?

The member portal dashboard, it gives an awesome 360 degree view to members of how they are interacting with their associations through their memberships.

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Diversity in Data

Diversity in Data

By now you’ve seen or heard the numbers detailing how diverse the U.S. population has become and will continue to be during the next few decades. Associations are in a unique position to serve these diverse groups and provide them with a sense of community. After all, that’s what associations do best: bring people together.

Still, concerns have been raised about lack of diversity in their memberships and/or the professions/industries they represent. And associations have taken steps to answer the call for more diversity in the association community.

Now in its 14th year, ASAE’s Diversity Executive Leadership Program (DELP) is a case in point. DELP scholars, who come from under-represented identity groups in the association community, participate in an accelerated leadership program of education, mentoring, and volunteer service in the association community.

ASAE is also taking additional steps to assist the organization’s members assess and better address diversity and inclusion issues. Last month ASAE announced its collaboration with the National Human Services Assembly to increase awareness about diversity and inclusion and create/share best practices in the D+I field.

The two organizations will hold a kick-off meeting next month to begin the process of developing a sector-wide strategic framework for educating nonprofits and associations about key practices. As part of this joint effort, NHSA will promote ASAE’s Association Inclusion Index to its members and affiliates.

Developed with input from experts in the field, the index is designed to help organizations simplify the process of gathering and analyzing data on diversity and inclusion policies and practices in association management. To utilize the index, associations answer performance-based questions in five major domains of diversity and inclusion in associations, which are:

    1. Mission & Focus
    2. Roles & Leadership Accountability
    3. Resources
    4. Operations
    5. Communications & Cultures

What I find exciting about this tool is that it takes advantage of cloud computing. The Index is web-based and dynamic. Upon completion, organizations receive instant feedback in the form of downloadable documents they can share within their associations. It’s good that cloud-based technology is being implemented towards achieving goals in area as critical to the future of associations as diversity and inclusion.

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