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Brainstorms, Brands, Boards and Better Meetings: Our Top Posts of 2015

Brainstorms, Brands, Boards and Better Meetings: Our Top Posts of 2015

Happy New Year! As associations reflect on last year and solidify their plans for this one, I thought it appropriate to take a look back at some of our most read blog posts of 2015. Interestingly they focus on the issues and trends that were not only relevant then, but will continue to be so in 2016.

The most read post of 2015 talks about innovation. In our work with association customers, we’ve found that this is an area in which many of them would like to see more progress. As noted, I agreed with author Dorie Clark’s assertion that each of us as unique individuals sees the world differently from anyone else. If we trust that vision, we can innovate in our organizations.

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Setting Up Your Social Calendar for Success

Setting Up Your Social Calendar for Success

Most of us have already started adding meetings, appointments and other tasks to our calendars for next year. In most cases, those activities that get planned usually get done rather than falling into a no man’s land of things we meant to do but just didn’t get to. Unfortunately, social media sometimes falls into the latter category for too many associations.

Once you’ve established your organization’s presence on the ever-growing array of social networks/channels, you definitely need a plan and a content calendar in order to make the most of these communications. Stephen Waddington, chief engagement officer at Ketchum, recently outlined eight areas of social and digital planning for 2016 on the company’s blog. Four of them caught my attention as being particularly relevant for associations:

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Marketing & Communications Planning for 2016: 5 Key Questions

Marketing & Communications Planning for 2016: 5 Key Questions
Marketing & Communications Planning for 2016: 5 Key Questions

The number of channels available for associations to use in their marketing and communications efforts only continues to grow. Members’ expectations for how and when you communicate with them have also expanded right along with the number of channels available for doing so. With so many options, it will take careful planning to determine which ones have been and will be most effective for your organization.

I like the approach to communications and marketing planning for the New Year that Cheryl Smithem of Charleston Public Relations and Design recently outlined in a post on the firm’s website. “The greatest issue is knowing where you want to take your business in the coming year. Answering this question requires honesty and truthfulness with yourself,” she wrote.

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Disruptions, Data and Determination: ASAE’s 2015 Technology Conference

Disruptions, Data and Determination: ASAE’s 2015 Technology Conference

Today we’re onsite at ASAE’s Technology Conference in Washington, DC. While we’re here, we hope that we’ll get to meet with many of you. Please stop by and check out the Fonteva Lounge (Booth #539 on the tradeshow floor). You can enter to win an Apple Watch, charge your cell phone and pick up some cool swag while relaxing and networking with colleagues.

Among other topics, you can talk with them about what you’ve learned as you traveled along the five pathways around which the conference is structured. They range from leadership and technology to the business of IT. In line with the conference theme, one pathway is devoted entirely to disruption and determining how your organization can lead technology change.

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5 Key Traits of Great Entrepreneurs from Uber's CEO

5 Key Traits of Great Entrepreneurs from Uber's CEO

Uber co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick just made the short list of candidates for Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. Some think he deserves the honor while others don’t, and I’ll leave that debate to the plethora of pundits and social commentators who will likely offer their perspective on the matter.

However, I was intrigued by comments Kalanick made about entrepreneurship last month while addressing students and faculty at Miami Dade College. As reported by the Miami Herald’s Nancy Dahlberg, he said of entrepreneurship, “It’s a long journey and you have to push to a point where it hurts. ”

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A Time for Thanks

A Time for Thanks

As our thoughts turn to being thankful and celebrating with family and friends, we might also take a moment to thank our staff members. Some managers might think, “They know how much I appreciate them.” Others might take this view, “Why am I thanking them for doing their jobs?”

Saying thanks is not only a good way to treat employees, study after study suggests that appreciation for a job well done translates into increased productivity and overall job satisfaction. When Monster surveyed workers in the UK, 63 percent said they’d take a verbal thank-you in place of a bonus when they’d “gone the extra mile” on the job. According to an online survey conducted by the Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated, when asked what gives them a high sense of satisfaction at work, 55 percent of employees said receiving a "thank you" from their direct manager.

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We Gobble Up Video

We Gobble Up Video

I am a fan of associations using video to not only tell their members’ stories more effectively but to educate them about their membership benefits. I’ve written about how video influences purchasing decisions as well as which metrics are most important to measure to determine the value of videos. We use our videos to highlight the successes our customers have had using Fonteva For Associations.

Video is such a powerful channel, so I hope it’s an integral component of your overall communications plan. Consider this forecast from the Cisco Visual Networking Index:

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Three Ways to Say Thank You from the CXPA

Three Ways to Say Thank You from the CXPA

How hard is it to say, “thank you”? The answer might surprise you. Some customers feel like they don’t hear it enough.

You might have had this experience yourself. You make a purchase, and at the end of the transaction, the store’s employee hands your receipt and moves on to the next person in line. What’s missing from this scenario? A simple “thank you” might have made you even more likely to return to that store.

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Let Us Count the Ways to Repurpose Content

Let Us Count the Ways to Repurpose Content

Creating and maintaining relevant, useful content for their members is one of the most important day-to-day functions of associations. Their members rely on them as a trusted source of information that they use to stay informed and ultimately do their jobs better. Of course some content is more “popular” than others.

When members respond positively to a magazine article or blog post, have you ever thought to yourself, “I wish there was a way that we could extend the life of this content”? Extending the life of content is an important consideration that requires as much planning and strategizing as the creation of the content itself, especially since your audience’s expectations have only grown in terms of the variety of formats in which they expect to access content.

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Scary Silos: Why You Should Avoid Isolating Data

Scary Silos: Why You Should Avoid Isolating Data

Okay, let’s be honest. There’s someone on staff at your association who is maintaining his or her own database (i.e. Excel spreadsheet) rather than updating and sharing information with the entire organization.

In our experience, there are generally at least one or two staff members or departments, no matter how well-intended, that feel more comfortable keeping their data isolated from the rest of the organization. As someone who appreciates how important it is to aggregate and consolidate data, that’s just scary to me, much scarier than the ghosts and goblins we see everywhere this time of year.

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Ideas and Innovation: You’ve Got This!

Ideas and Innovation: You’ve Got This!

If asked, how many of us would describe ourselves as innovators? Too often people with great ideas think the title of innovator is reserved for someone else.

As author and marketing strategist Dorie Clark noted in an article for Observer.com, “innovation wasn’t taught in school, so many professionals assume you can only become ‘qualified’ to innovate if you’re a professor or researcher or programming genius.”

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Back to School for Board Members

Back to School for Board Members

Our theme for this month is Back to School. As schools around the country re-opened for another academic year, and another opportunity for learning new skills and gaining additional knowledge, our thoughts turned to how important it is for associations to continue to evaluate their skill sets. What are staff members’ strengths? In what areas could your board be better equipped?

While most associations operate based on a fiscal year rather than an academic year, they can seize this back to school season as a time for making sure their approach to governance remains effective. What’s on your board’s back to school list?

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Employees Who Think Like CEOs

Employees Who Think Like CEOs

“I wish employees would take more initiative and think about the long-term goals and vision of our organization.” If you find yourself making statements like this this one, it could be that your association doesn’t always provide the kind of environment in which employees feel they comfortable making decisions and taking actions that benefit the organization as a whole.

Of course in most organizations, the CEO or executive director is the ultimate decision maker, and for the sake of consistency, there can only be one of those. By the same token, David Royce, founder and CEO of Alterra, makes some valid points in favor of training all employees to “think and act like CEOs.”

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Take Time Out for Training

Take Time Out for Training

As we’ve worked with organizations to implement new technology Platform Solutions, we always recommend that they take time out for training. The assumption that employees will learn all they need to know on the job is a faulty one. It’s important to dedicate specific time and energy to technology training. By doing so, you increase the likelihood that staff members will use the technology in which you’ve invested to the fullest.

A recent blog post from the team at Smartbear outlined some of the personal benefits of you and the members of your team attending training:

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Understanding Stress: Challenge vs. Killer

Understanding Stress: Challenge vs. Killer

Hard data indicates that non-leaders experience greater stress in the workplace than their bosses and it often has a negative effect on their performance, according to Michael Lee Stallard, author of Connection Culture (ASTD, 2015).

Stallard is a leading expert on how emotional connections increase employee engagement and strategic alignment to boost productivity, innovation and organizational performance. He believes it’s critical for organizational leaders to understand the distinction between two primary types of stress: challenge and killer.

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Giving and Getting This Tuesday

GivingTuesday-is-December-3In the midst of the frenzied excitement about Black Friday and Cyber Monday, an estimated 8,300 nonprofit organizations were preparing donor campaigns for a slightly lesser known, unofficial holiday observance, “Giving Tuesday.”  Launched last year by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation, “Giving Tuesday” is an effort to spearhead a national day of charitable giving on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Some organizations like the Union Settlement Association have taken their “Giving Tuesday” campaigns to social media with the help of corporate sponsors. In his guest post for the Huffington Post’s Impact blog, executive director David Nocenti discussed the significance of the campaign: As the executive director of East Harlem's oldest and largest social service provider, I can attest to how important and inspiring these kinds of creative, grassroots campaigns can be. Indeed, this year Union Settlement Association is grateful to one of our valued corporate sponsors, AT&T, for launching a special Giving Tuesday Twitter-based social media campaign in support of our organization. Over a two-week period, AT&T is sharing stories of lives changed through our work, and thereby recognizing the importance of neighborhood-based organizations like Union Settlement in helping residents of underserved communities. However, as nonprofits campaign to encourage giving to their organizations, it’s equally important for them to remember what their donors expect to get in return for their support. According to Hope Consulting’s May 2010 report on the “Money for Good” project, what donors most want from organizations to which they make charitable contributions is information about their overall effectiveness and efficiency. They want reassurance that their money is not being wasted. When asked about the most important piece of information they sought out before giving, 24 percent of survey respondents said “the amount of good the organization is accomplishing.” In other words, they care more about what you’re doing to solve the problem than how large it is. Along similar lines, 18 percent of respondents wanted specifics about how the organization would use their donation. Donors seek a direct connection or correlation between your organization’s strategic operations and their contributions. It comes as no surprise that the important thing that donors expect to get is “thank you.” A 2012 post from the National Council of Nonprofits’ blog sums this expectation up well: “Put yourself in their shoes: Donors want exactly what you would want. At the top of their list is a respectful and prompt ‘thank you.’” During this season of getting and giving “gifts,” be sure to take a moment to reflect on what it feels like to be on both sides of that equation. At Fonteva, we encourage our clients to make full use of the technology tools available to them so that they are proficient at both giving and receiving. Source: Huffington Post, November 25, 2013 and Philanthropy News, June 23, 2013
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