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.

Cooperation in the Cloud: The Native Approach to Apps

Cooperation in the Cloud: The Native Approach to Apps

You’re probably familiar with co-ops as they relate to an attractive housing option that allows tenants to share resources and amenities in a multi-unit building while having the benefit of managing their individual units more efficiently and economically. Well, this approach translates to the most recent developments in cloud computing. In this context, it’s known as multi-tenancy or platform as a service.

New web platforms have emerged that foster interoperability and collaboration among independent software vendors as they develop apps. “Native” is the term commonly used to define and distinguish these apps.

In a recent white paper, DreamFactory CEO Eric Rubin highlighted how cooperative or native apps can be leveraged to streamline cloud deployments “by sharing assets that would otherwise be redundant and eliminating unnecessary middleware that would otherwise be needed to connect applications.”

As a case in point, has maximized this model by sharing hosting, data, document and security services via single implementation throughout its customer base of thousands of companies and organizations. This approach is far more efficient than if these same services were to be distributed as single tenant implementations.

When we developed Fonteva For Associations, we recognized how powerful the Salesforce platform was and will continue to be. We knew how valuable it would be for our app to be a native of Salesforce ecosystem. The advantages our customers get because we developed our app in this multi-tenant ecosystem are incomparable:

Single data store. Fonteva For Associations enables customers to eliminate point Platform Solutions and manage all transactions and interactions from a single database.

Ongoing innovation. Salesforce also has three product releases each year (spring, summer, winter) that are available free to all Fonteva For Associations customers.

Interoperability of apps. Fonteva For Associations customers can access the Salesforce marketplace and select from over 2,000 business apps that can be downloaded and used to extend the functionality of both Fonteva For Associations and Salesforce. 

Speed, security and scalability. We use the Salesforce platform to deliver world-class data management, security, service availability, and a highly intuitive user interface. The stability, reliability and scalability of the Salesforce platform are unparalleled.

Moreover, because Fonteva For Associations is 100 percent built on the Salesforce public cloud, customers are able to perform tasks and customize the solution themselves rather than pay their AMS vendor. We focus on cooperation, so you can concentrate on being competitive.

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Who’s Who Wednesday: Ulas Kutuk

photoThroughout 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 software engineer Ulas Kutuk (Twitter: @uLasKutuk). Originally from Izmir, Turkey, and currently living in Arlington, Va., Ulas has been working with Fonteva for 2.5 years. In this role, he works on product enhancements, new product features and customer specific customizations. He is a Salesforce Certified Developer. “I am glad to be here and part of a team,” Ulas says. Read on to learn more about him. What's on your desk right now?
Salesforce Spring ‘14 Release Notes, clients’ requirements, my nephews’ photos, and coffee What's the best advice you ever got?
—There is no trying. There is success or failure! —Treat every day like it’s the first day. Who are you following on Twitter?
Avandel @AvandelCom, Ali Ozden @ali_ozden_, Teach Me Salesforce @TeachMeSFDC What's the most played song on your iPod? “Another Day in Paradise” (Nicco push bootleg remix), Phil Collins What are your favorite blogs?
 A collective of the tech-savvy and tech-obsessed Technology blog of Guardian Media Group What are your favorite Fonteva For Associations features?
Configuration page, public event registration, member portal
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Paper and Pixels for PR: Follow Beyonce’s Example

imgresTAKEAWAY TUESDAY Take it away! This is the third in a series of posts that will be featured on Fonteva’s blog highlighting 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. The release of Beyonce’s most recent album exclusively on iTunes last month was the proverbial shot heard around the world. The news of the album’s released generated 1.2 million tweets in 12 hours. Beyonce’s release and development of this album gives even greater meaning to the term multi-media. Each song on the self-titled record has its own corresponding video. Further, she used an Instagram video and an official press release to make the announcement. Yes, you read that right — a press release. While social media was clearly leveraged to make the album release a success, the traditional press release had an important role to play as well. According to a blog post from a member of PR Newswire’s marketing team, it all comes down to credibility. She writes, “Journalists and fans alike could not rely on speculation from the internet as a credible source. However, the press release was able to definitively answer burning questions such as why Beyoncé chose a groundbreaking visual approach to her album and explains how her team was able to accomplish such an extraordinary feat in the public eye.” I find these observations interesting and think they offer some words of wisdom for associations and other organizations that actively promote their events, products and services. Social media and digital communications have clearly opened a whole new world of public relations opportunities. At the same time, it’s important to note new methods don’t necessarily signal the elimination of the old. Consider these benefits of using press releases: Don’t send journalists on an information scavenger hunt: “Press releases highlight the most important information in a concise format, perfect for republishing and retweeting, and provide links to relevant pages.” Provide a “guarantee” that information is reliable: “Press releases come straight from the source and strip away any uncertainties over whether the information is factual.” In general I tend to agree with the blogger’s point that “until there is no longer a demand for highly credible information, press releases will remain as a vital resource for businesses, media, and the public.” So the next time your association plans PR and promotion for some special event or new product release, you might reconsider eliminating the press release as one of your principal strategies for distributing information.
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New Year, New Members – 5 Strategies for Successful Recruitment

Chalkboard Drawing_Strategy_bw_0Is it possible to have too many members? Some associations don’t think so. Their goal is to present the largest united front possible to advocate on behalf of their industries or professions. Others take a different approach and focus on maintaining smaller memberships of key companies or groups. What’s your membership strategy for 2014? Melissa Harrison, chief marketing officer for XYZ University, suggests that “before you stick with the same, tried-and-true (or maybe not-so-true) methods for membership recruitment,” you should carefully consider and evaluate your process for obtaining new members. Harrison recommends five strategies or tactics for successfully recruiting new members:
  1. Treat membership recruitment like the sales process that it is. If you want to “seal the deal,” you must understand the purchasing life cycle of your potential members. “Membership recruitment is about creating long-lasting relationships, engaging your prospects and proving to them why they would benefit from your association.”
  2. Understand your association’s niche. Your organization can’t effectively be all things to all people. “You need to buckle down and determine, realistically, who your target market is and where you’ll reach new members. Make a list of prospects and a list of competing associations in order to understand your market and determine the general availability of potential new members.”
  3. Research your potential members’ needs and address them. People tend to know what they want from their associations, and they will tell you if you ask. “Ask your members and the community at large what they want. What are they missing from other organizations? What are the reasons they choose not to join and what would change their minds?”
  4. Know your association’s value. It’s important to be able to clearly communicate your value proposition. “Figure out what your value is and communicate that effectively. What will make others talk about you? No one talks about the ordinary; you want to be extraordinary.”
  5. Test, track, and repeat (or revamp). Measurement and evaluation are important aspects of any recruitment strategy. For example, you might review website traffic or event attendance from non-members. “And if it’s not working? Change it up! In this age of real-time information and face-paced media, there’s no reason to hold on to a membership recruitment strategy that isn’t proving its worth over a few months.”
At Fonteva we can’t stress enough the importance of developing metrics and making data- driven decisions about membership recruitment (and retention). If you have appropriate software systems in place, you’ll have this capability, but it’s up to you to use it. We wish you a New Year of successfully recruiting the right members for your organizations. Original Article
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App of the Month: Addressing Consistency

App of the Month: Addressing Consistency

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? With so many of them being available, it can be hard to know which ones will be most effective for your organization. Just because there’s app for that, it doesn’t mean that you need it.

One of the biggest benefits Fonteva For Associations users are able to take advantage of is access to the more than 2,000 business apps available through the Salesforce App Exchange. You may already be familiar with some of them like MailChimp and Eventbrite.

All of the apps featured can be downloaded and used to extend the functionality of both Fonteva For Associations and Salesforce, and I’ll be highlighting one app from exchange the every month so that you’ll have a better idea of what’s available and may be most useful to you in your work.

The first app that I would like to highlight is AddressTools (formerly Country Complete) developed by ProvenWorks, a software development consultancy based in the UK focusing on customization and extension of Salesforce and Microsoft CRM.

Do you have users entering inconsistent values in your state fields? MD, Md., or M.D.? This can make it very difficult to assign sales or membership territories, report by region or determine languages for communications.

This app, which has free and paid versions, ensures that your database users enter consistent state names throughout the Salesforce interface by providing an auto-complete pick-list. Like most app providers, the company offer discounts to nonprofits. There’s no need to clean your existing data before implementation; you can clean as you go and know all new data is validated. When you download this app, your users will enter consistent state names throughout the Salesforce interface by selecting them from an auto-complete pick-list.

Here’s what some users have to say about how AddressTools has helped their organizations be more efficient:

—“We have been using the ProvenWorks Country Complete App for quite some time now, and I have found it to be a ‘must have.’ It makes our data integrity efforts just a little easier. Thank you so much for providing a missing piece within Salesforce for us.”

—“This is a great example of a tool that performs a critical function to a successful implementation. Having consistent spelling and formatting for the country field is absolutely a must. This tool gives us the results we want at the price we want (FREE).”

—“I have no hesitation in recommending this app. It was easy to set up and has worked as expected ever since. I like especially that the Country object is not locked down, so I'm able to add fields and leverage this object throughout my org.”

Read more online to see if this app might be right for your association.

Original Article

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High-Tech Higher Ed: The IT Team As First Responders

HigherEducation_600_794TAKEAWAY TUESDAY Take it away! This is the second in a series of posts that will be featured on Fonteva’s blog highlighting 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. High-Tech Higher Ed:  The IT Team a First Responders In a recent interview with Education Dive, University of New Hampshire CIO Joanna Young discussed her overarching approach to managing technology for UNH’s three campuses (serving 15,000 undergraduate and undergraduate students) as well as the key challenges facing her institution in particular and higher ed in general. I found some of her observations particularly relevant to recent experiences that we’ve had working with our association customers. First, I was struck by her emphasis on the necessity for her team to be both responsive and innovative: —“The colleges and other large units at UNH are like unique business units; they all have their own strategies and culture to which IT needs to be responsive.” —“We work to prevent barriers.” How does your association approach the implementation of technology? Whether it’s implementing a new AMS or some other major IT initiative, we encourage our clients to look for ways to meet the needs of as many constituent groups as possible. Both staff and members should be well served by your association’s technology choices and decisions. If you operate with this guiding principle, you’ll build connections rather than put up barriers to success. Second, her focus on the future and desire to create more opportunities for UNH were admirable: —“UNH IT is an innovator, not just a builder and supporter of technology. We work to create opportunities; the UNH IT academic technology team is out in front with new classroom technology and online learning platforms." Much like Young describes her team, our team at Fonteva is committed to being “out in front” in bringing the most flexible and customizable technology to our customers. And we have a great partner in Salesforce, an organization that is equally committed to innovation and exploration. We designed Fonteva For Associations on the Saleforce platform because we knew our customers would recognize the value of having a multi-billion dollar global company managing their AMS platform and delivering on-going innovation via  the company’s three annual product releases. Fonteva also knew that its customers would benefit from the Salesforce AppExchange, a marketplace for more than 2,000 apps that can be downloaded and used to extend the functionality of both Platform Solutions. Interestingly, under Young’s leadership, UNH IT recently introduced Salesforce as a platform for admissions and is expanding to other units. This was one of many projects undertaken to address the institution’s primary technology challenges, which Young put into two categories:
  1. Modernizing and rationalizing IT, including improving relationships with internal stakeholders.
  2. Increasing the contribution and strategic value of IT.
Your association could be facing similar challenges. If so, it’s critical that they be addressed so that like Young and her team, you can focus on improving the overall member experience. For example, Young observes that “an organization's inability to engage with customers and constituents via mobile is a negative differentiator. People will gradually shy away and opt out if they can't engage via mobile and social.” ​ She goes on to say that higher education needs to be out in front, providing academic and research experiences that students will need to be positioned for success.” It seems to me that associations have a similar task before them. They have to position themselves and their members for success. And I would agree with Young’s assertion that “you need technology, good technology, to do that.” Original Article: UNH CIO: The 'Internet of Things' will drive tech changes in higher ed
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Marketing Membership to Millennials

millennials Millennials, also known as Generation Y (birthdates 1980s to early 2000s), are well on the way to being the most discussed, reported on, and speculated about generation of all time. Organizations in all spheres of human influence are trying to determine how best to capture their time, talent and money. The Pew Research Center has done extensive studies and hosts an online quiz you can take to determine how millennial you are. Amidst all the speculation about what they do and don’t like, what they will and will not do, the prevailing conclusion seems be that doing what you’ve always done to promote or market your product or services won’t work with this group. If they haven’t already, associations should start thinking about how millennial they are. At the end of 2013, Kelly Donovan, team leader for online marketing at Naylor LLC, identified seven shifts that she believes are particularly relevant to the younger generation of association professionals. By offering a “Millennial’s Perspective” on associations in 2013, she gives observations that will serve us all well as we work to provide the best experiences for this generation and all the generations to come. Here are the three shifts that stood out most for me: 1. Increased use of mobile apps at events 2. The need for more membership options 3. Pricing challenges Fortunately, Fonteva For Associations has the built-in capacity to help users address these shifts or trends. The solution completely is mobile for staff and members. In addition, our association clients have access to the Salesforce AppExchange where they can download additional apps to expand the functionality of Fonteva For Associations and Salesforce.  Further, the exchange provides a means for them to connect with other vendors besides Fonteva. It’s important to have access to as many tools as you need to be successful now and in the future. As Donovan points out, the need for more membership options is really driven by the demand for true customization of the membership experience. Fonteva For Associations’s member portal option is one way we’re helping our client associations address this trend. This need for customization may also be at the root of the pricing challenges some associations are experiencing. Not every product or service in your association’s repertoire will appeal to everyone. With Fonteva For Associations, users can monitor any type of engagement with any constituent. This makes it less difficult for them to determine which products and/or services are most frequently used or purchased by specific segments of their members and then bundle and price them accordingly. In light of these shifts and trends, I tend to agree with Donovan’s assertion that associations “need to move out of their comfort zone to join the rest of the world on most tech matters.” How millennial is your AMS solution?
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The “A” Word: Four Steps to Creating a Culture of Accountability

canstockphoto11274896“It wasn’t me.” We’ve all heard that one before, especially when communicating with staff about how a particular problem did or did not get resolved.  Too often we revert back to this childhood stance when attempts are made to hold us accountable for our behavior. Julie Miller and Brian Bedford, principal consultants at MillerBedford Executive Platform Solutions, were so “disgusted” (their word) by the lack of accountability they saw around them that they decided to write a book about it. In Culture Without Accountability (Criffel Publishing, 2013), they define the term as “a personal willingness, after the fact, to answer for the results of your behaviors and actions.” They would argue that everyone, from politicians to sports stars, is operating in the world without accountability. In most organizations, lack of accountability is a recipe for eventual disaster. Not only did the work not get done, but the people who didn’t do it weren’t held accountable. Fortunately, there are numerous technology tools available to aid organizations in fostering a culture of accountability. When staff use Platform Solutions in the cloud like Fonteva For Associations, it is less difficult to determine who actually dropped the ball and follow up appropriately. It is very easy to see communications and actions individuals take as there is a history of all of this in the database. Staff members are encouraged to customize the solution to meet their specific needs. They can set up personal reports and dashboards that will help them with accepting accountability for their actions. Aside from technology, there must a true commitment to holding each other accountable. In an online video, Miller and Bedford briefly highlight the four steps they’ve used to assist organizations all over the world in “installing a culture of accountability”:
  1. Help people understand the vision for changing the culture.
  2. Bring the culture to life, so they know what they must do differently.
  3. Tie it into existing processes.
  4. Holding people (including yourself) accountable.
It’s been said many times. “We all make mistakes.” However, we all may not take responsibility for making them. For organizations to be successful, the “A” word should be part of everyone’s vocabulary.  
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Three New Ways of Working Together: Perspectives from Mabel’s Labels, Zappos and Morning Star

reinvention-roadmap-find-your-path-1024x1020 TAKEAWAY TUESDAY Take it away! This is the second in a series of posts that will be featured on Fonteva’s blog highlighting 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. A recent post to Huff Post Business declared 2014 the year of workplace of reinvention. According to Gallup, only 13 percent of workers are engaged. Perhaps, it is time for a change, one that engages employees and gives them more autonomy in achieving their workplace objectives. In the post culture consultant Pam Ross goes on to highlight three different models of reinventions to the workplace. The first model is the ROWE or Results-Only Work Environment, which is based on allowing staff members to work wherever, whenever and however they chose as long as they achieve their results. Mabel’s Labels, a producer of labels for household and children’s items, became a ROWE in spring 2013.  Mabel’s co-founder Julie Cole acknowledges that implementing such a model requires “strong leadership and goal setting.” The second model, holacracy, is one Zappos announced to its employees at the end of last year. In holacracies, companies are organized into circles. Staff members belong to several different circles depending upon the kinds of projects they are working on at the time. Rather than being centralized, decision-making is distributed throughout the organization with everyone focused on the company’s core mission and vision. John Bunch, who is leading the holacracy initiative for Zappos, believes the change will enable “employees to act more like entrepreneurs and self-direct their work instead of reporting to a manager who tells them what to do.” The third model is that of a self-managed organization, which tomato processing and packing company Morning Star has been since the 1990s. Essentially the company operates without hierarchies and managers. There is no ultimate authority. The basic premise behind the model is that for companies to achieve greater productivity and engagement, their employees should not employ force against each other and should honor their commitments. At first glance, none of these models may be remotely appealing or even seem possible within the overall organizational structure of your association. Still I think they are well worth noting because each model is built around the idea of having a fully engaged workforce. There could be some element of just one or all three that would make your association’s staff more engaged. As a case in point, we designed Fonteva For Associations to be engaging and highly customizable. Because Fonteva For Associations is built on the Salesforce public cloud, users are able to perform tasks and customize the solution themselves rather than pay their AMS vendor. This empowers staff and removes barriers to user adoption. Fonteva For Associations is completely mobile as well giving staff flexibility to work from anywhere at any time. In addition, it provides a 360 degree data view of the entire organization so that everyone can truly be on the same page. You may not be ready to reinvent your workplace in 2014, but you might want to consider if there are even some small ways to give your staff members more autonomy and flexibility in achieving goals. I know I will be.    
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Website Woes: Avoid Common Problems

Website Woes: Avoid Common Problems

“I don’t know why our members keep asking about X; it’s on the website.” If this is the frequent refrain at your association, perhaps it’s time to consider why members can’t locate the resources you’ve worked so hard to develop.

Could it be that the pathway to these valuable resources is too complicated? When members visit your website, they’re usually in search of content, want to register for an event or desire to make a purchase.

When we developed Fonteva For Associations, we knew how it important it was for members to be able to complete these actions easily. The member portal and Fonteva eCommerce functionalities built into the app help make it simple for your members to interact with you and each other.

Once they login to the members-only area, the navigation is simple and straight forward and all member resources are at their fingertips.

There’s definitely something to be said for simplicity. In one of his recent blog posts, Accrinet President and CEO Jeff Kline makes a convincing case for simplicity in the design of nonprofit websites. He uses two architectural design principles to highlight his key points:

Form follows function.

    • What is the function of your website?
    • How do you want visitors to use it?
    • How does your website support your Internet marketing strategy?

Less, but better

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Going on Tour: Membership Out of the Office

ce4b01101a0811e3aac622000a9f04c6_7 Most associations spend time, as well as financial and human resources, to market their events to members. Understandably a great deal of emphasis is put on getting members to come to events. But when was the last time you went to them? This past fall the North Carolina Technology Association did just that with the launch of its Tech Tour. From the mountains to the coast, select NCTA staff visited with members in their offices around the state. The tour was conceived as a way to commemorate NCTA’s 20th anniversary. The tour’s primary goal was to promote the importance of the industry to the local community: “We hit the road to highlight both the statewide impact of the association and the vibrancy of the tech sector.” About 650 companies make up NCTA’s membership. Highlights from each of the five stops on the tour were shared via Instagram and Twitter as well as on the association’s blog. In addition to actual tours of member companies (both staff-only and staff and members), NCTA hosted networking events in each city. Perhaps, you’re not quite ready for a multi-city tour, but getting outside the office to visit with your members is well worth considering. This kind of outreach generally yields very helpful insights into how members perceive themselves and others. And if you’re using a fully mobile AMS solution such as Fonteva For Associations, you won’t need to wait until you return to the office to incorporate this valuable new information into your database. Fonteva For Associations is completely mobile for staff users and members. Users 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. If there’s nothing holding you back on the technology side, what are you waiting for? It may be time to go on tour and get to know your members on their turf.  
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Improving Adoption Rates for Online Tools: One Community Bank’s Story

moneydesktopdevice TAKEAWAY TUESDAY Take it away! I am pleased to introduce the first in a series of posts that will be featured on Fonteva’s blog highlighting 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. This first post will highlight a Tennessee-based community bank’s success in getting their customers to use online personal financial management (PFM) tools. For the bank, these tools are analogous to the Fonteva For Associations member portal that customers deploy to better engage members. They enable online banking customers to pull in external financial accounts, create budgets, visualize spending habits and categorize transactions as well as add memos to them. Just like associations do with their online communities, the bank hopes the service will improve retention rates as well as attract new customers. Even with the most current technology in place, associations shouldn’t take a build-it-and-they-will-come approach to their online communities. They need to be proactive in promoting this resource to members and educating them about how to use it most effectively. For example, one of our customers, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, created a video to help spread the word about its new member portal. Wilson Bank & Trust took similar measures to ensure that its customers would use the PFM tools the bank launched last spring. By industry standards, the bank’s launch was a tremendous success. Since launching its PFM tool, the bank has seen more than 25 percent of its roughly 20,000 active online users adopt it (as reported by Mary Wisniewski in Bank Technology News). According to industry analysts, most financial institutions have only experienced single-figure adoption rates. So what’s the secret to the bank’s success? According to Wilson executive president John McDearman, listening to its customers was a large part of making the launch successful. Here are some other keys to take away from the bank’s story of successful adoption of online tools: Do your research. McDearman estimates that the bank’s research took 12 months before it selected a PFM vendor.
Test the tools with employees first. Educating your staff about tools means they will feel that much more comfortable communicating with members about them. McDearman confirms, “One of the keys to success has been education of our own employees.” Promote your tools. Wilson created e-mail campaigns and banner ads and featured a countdown to the launch on its website and social media messages. Create an app. The bank’s customers can download a separate mobile PFM app. If your online adoption rates aren’t quite as high as you hoped, you might consider revisiting some of these strategies.  To share your takeaways with your colleagues, contact me at
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Take on Team Building

business_library_team_building "Remember upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all." --Alexander the Great This quote would seem to state the obvious; yet many teams struggle to maintain accountability and trust. Why does this happen? Perhaps, it’s because we take teamwork and team building for granted. We expect people to work together to accomplish common goals. Well, often that’s easier said than done. Ensuring that the members of your team value each other, in addition to other teams outside your department, is an ongoing process that is important to build into your strategic planning process. For example, during an implementation of Fonteva For Associations, we work with virtually every department in an organization to understand each department’s business processes and how they may impact the business automation built into our solution.  When working with highly functioning teams that have good cross-departmental communication, frequently we’re able to complete a project ahead of schedule and under budget. There are lots of ways to build better team dynamics, and one may be half-day retreat out of the office. During that time away from their desks, employees can engage with one another in different ways that will help make the team stronger. Team Building exercises are usually incorporated into such events. On the surface, they may seem a little silly, but they work for many organizations. The Food Project, a Boston-based nonprofit organization focused on youth development, food access, and sustainable agriculture, has had such success in building volunteer teams that it created a resource on its website featuring the team building activities that worked best for their staff and volunteers. Here’s one that highlights the importance of not dropping the proverbial ball. In “Beach Ball Away,” the objective of the exercise is to keep the ball off the ground for as long as possible while adhering to the following rules: 1. A player cannot hit the ball twice in succession. 2. Each hit counts for one point. 3. The group must count aloud with each hit. These seem like some reasonable ground rules that likely will generate opportunities for cooperation and open communication among team members. After completing the activity, the team will have a discussion centered on these questions:
  • How many times were you able to hit the ball?
  • Did your group improve as the game progressed? Why?
  • What kind of communication did your group use?
  • Was there a designated leader?
  • Did counting out loud help the group to go higher? Why?
This is an example of the myriad activities available to you for to use in ongoing development of your team. You know your team and will be able to determine which kinds of activities will be most effective. The important thing is to take on teambuilding as one of your mission-essential tasks.    
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A Two-Way Street: Being Responsive to Members on Social Media

monterey_16_bg_110400Hello, is anyone home? Unfortunately, this short inquiry sums how many members of associations may feel when their comments or questions on social media go unanswered. According to, this past year only 65 percent of inquiries got answered with 58 percent of all questions being answered by just 1/10th of the companies present on social. None of your members’ posts, tweets, or even emails should go into a black hole at your association never to be seen again. In a recent Mashable article, several community managers offered their tips for better engagement on social media. Here I’ve highlighted three that seemed particularly applicable to associations. “Get to know your customer service team: Jetsetter’s member service team answers over 2,000 customer service questions per week via phone and email, but also via Facebook and Twitter. Members love that they can get instant answers to their questions. Communication managers need to be very close to their member support teams. Answering questions via social platforms is a different beast and even the most seasoned customer service specialist will need training on social media interaction.” — Jonathan Goldmann, social media manager at Jetsetter (now TripAdvisor)
“Fast Company is fortunate enough to have a very supportive and thriving online community of whip-smart professionals who are independent enough to have these really awesome in-depth conversations about our content on their own. Sometimes they want to know you are listening, which means it’s your responsibility to read and respond.” —Sheena Medina, community manager at Fast Company “Ask your customers what they think. This might not sound very exciting, but it's key to our social media and community engagement strategy. We do weekly posts on Facebook, for example, called ‘Feedback Friday’ where we share one of our favorite products and ask our fans, ‘Have you tried this? What did you think?’ This allows us to get customer feedback and also allows us to build community because responders inevitably enter into conversation with one another.” —Rachel Silver, community manager at Birchbox Ultimately, you’ll determine which strategies work best for you and your members. Fonteva For Associations users have the benefit of running their AMS on the Salesforce platform, which can be useful to them in implementing their social strategy because the platform enables customers to monitor and post responses directly to the most popular social channels. The Salesforce Marketing Cloud is the world’s only unified social marketing suite. Your organization can use it to create compelling social presences and amplify your content. Designed to help you turn insights into action, this social marketing suite will help associations harness the power of social media to:
  • Listen to their members and have insight into which channels they use to         discuss their organizations
  • Publish engaging contact using drag-and-drop tools
  • Reach more people in more interesting ways
With access to this tool, you can fine-tune your social media strategy. In the process, you’ll definitely need to be both cautious and creative as you head down that two-way street of communicating via social media.  
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Mobilize in 2014

Guest Post by Jerry Huskins, Fonteva CEO 2013-2014-happy-new-year-wallpaper According to Morgan Stanley, the number of smart phone users is growing by 42 percent annually. Gartner reports that 40 percent of the workplace will be mobile by 2016. These projections don’t come as a surprise. The increasingly mobile nature of the workplace and our world in general is evident. That’s why for me, one of the important milestones of 2013 was the release of Salesforce1 at the annual Dreamforce conference.  This was the next step in allowing people outside organizations interact with their data more easily. In our case, users of Fonteva For Associations will be able to access the application on any device in a really elegant way. Association staff members now have a much better user interface when doing their work from their tablets or phones. Looking Back It’s within this context that Fonteva has been able to build a culture of customer success. We’ve had the opportunity to work with lots of great organizations to dramatically change how they operate. For example, one of our customers went from having data in 12 different places to maintaining only two data stores.  Another went from having a member portal that no one used to deploying more modern software that was specifically designed for the Internet. We are committed to being responsive to the associations with which we work and addressing any concerns they have in a timely manner. We focus on solving their problems as soon as we can, and we try to provide live support as much as possible. Looking Ahead What will be our biggest opportunity in 2014? It’s really to spread the word about the cloud. Most of the association world has yet to understand the impact of public cloud computing and how that will change the way they work with staff and members. It’s a radical departure from what associations do right now. They’re coming to this trend late. They haven’t been a part of the commercial world’s transition to the cloud because no one has had a solution for associations in the public cloud. Until now they haven’t had the same kinds of choices that commercial companies have had. With our greatest opportunity also comes our greatest challenge, which is getting people to understand that they can control their own databases. Associations can and should configure their database Platform Solutions instead of relying on outside consultants. They need in-house trained resources who are business analysts that can configure Platform Solutions in the public cloud. Fonteva For Associations, for example, is meant to be association-owned. With more ownership and responsibility, comes more efficiency and effectiveness. The consultants of the future will be association employees. If they aren’t already working for you, you need to go hire them. All of us at Fonteva wish you the best in New Year, and we encourage you to focus on mobilizing your staff, your members, and your technology.  
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Maximize Your Meetings

meetingChances are that you have at least one to three meetings on your calendar to attend during the course of the work day. Unfortunately, many of these meetings may not be productive. According to a 2011 survey of information workers (employed American adults whose jobs involve handling or using information) conducted by Clarizen and Harris Interactive, almost four in ten employed American adults believe status meetings are a waste of time. Fifty-nine said preparing for status meetings often takes longer than the meeting themselves, and 57 percent indicated that they multi-task during status meetings. Yet, 62 percent also believed collaborating with colleagues helps them accomplish their work tasks. So what makes internal team meetings ineffective? Based on these survey results, it would seem that many internal meetings are filled with tired, distracted, unengaged staff members. At the same time, whether they are in-person, on the phone, or virtual, most organizations schedule regular meetings. Fonteva may be rather unique, but since we are an agile software development company, our focus is on daily output. Whether it is output around the development and testing of new code that gets released to our customers or completing tasks required to get customers live on our software, we are focused on daily output. As a result, our internal update meetings, called stand ups, happen daily and everyone participates. As we go around the room, each person is responsible for stating what they did over the last 24 hours, their plan for the next 24 hours, and if they have any “blockers” or dependencies on others to complete their work. This approach is highly effective as everyone contributes, meetings take less than 30 minutes and management can quickly determine where the issues are and then take appropriate action. Ray Williams, author of The Leadership Edge and Breaking Bad Habits offers some additional suggestions for making the most of internal meetings:
  • Limit the action items of your meeting to no more than three.
  • Table any discussion that is not relevant to the agenda.
  • Don’t let people who are late to the meeting by more than 15 minutes join.
  • Don’t tolerate meeting participants working on other things during the meeting.
  • End the meeting on the agreed-upon time, even if the agenda is not finished.
Now what happens after the meeting? My biggest pet peeve about meetings is that no one documents action steps and assigns responsibility for them. Most of us would like to attend fewer meetings. Well, the way to make that happen is to maximize the meetings we do have and most importantly, to follow up on action items before the next meeting or perhaps even eliminate the need for scheduling one.
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Go for Your Goals: At Home and At Work

gg63634351Certainly you can set goals any time of year, but for most of us, the end of one 12-month cycle seems like the ideal opportunity to take inventory and identify goals, both professional and personal. I have already set a few that I would like to share with you in spirit of how important it is to set goals and then determine what kinds of resources might be useful in accomplishing them. Goal #1: Move my wife from Georgia to DC area. Relocating from to another state can be a monumental task, but according to an article on, there are a number of mistakes that my wife and I and others can avoid. Among them are thinking you can do it yourself instead of using a pro, not requesting a written estimate from your moving company, and refusing extra coverage for loss and breakage. It seems to me that are a few lessons here for associations as well. As you plan initiatives, these are pitfalls that you want to avoid too. Is it really cheaper to complete a project in-house? Have you been tempted to take vendor at his or word instead of requiring a written contract? Have you considered every risk associated with a project? These are all good questions to ask you set your goals for 2014.
Goal #2: Reduce the amount of physical "stuff" in my life. It’s very easy to start collecting things if you don’t set ongoing goals for evaluating what you must have versus what you want or feel like you have to keep. Organization guru Julie Morgenstern’s comments on the topic of clutter during an interview with REALTOR magazine resonated with me: “Many live or work in a physical mess, yet feel comfortable in this environment. But there’s a difference between being successful and reaching our fullest potential. It's hard to do the latter when you're surrounded by piles. Eliminating clutter gives you room to think.” Most us of could use a little more room to think. Will your association reach its full potential in 2014, or are you holding onto “clutter” that you don’t need? Goal #3: Read more non-fiction. See goal #2. With less clutter, I will likely be more productive and make even better use of my time, which should give me more time to read. It also helps to make a Top Twelve list of the books that you want to read during the year. That’s one book a month. If you share this goal with me, you might even consider joining a book club or online reading group. There’s always so much “real work” to do that you sometimes feel like reading doesn’t fit into your schedule or lifestyle. Well, studies show that it calms us down. As was recently noted in a Huffington Post blog post: Reading can chill you out. Stressed out? Pick up a paperback. Research conducted in 2009 at Mindlab International at the University of Sussex showed that reading was the most effective way to overcome stress Who doesn’t need more stress relief? And you might also be thinking, who needs more goals? Much like reading, I think setting goals calms the mind and helps alleviate stress. Name and claim your goals in 2014. Identify the resources you to need to accomplish them. And go for it!
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How to Party Properly: Basic Etiquette for Your Office Holiday Gathering

How to Party Properly: Basic Etiquette for Your Office Holiday Gathering

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and you’ll likely find yourself attending at least one or two professional holiday gatherings. Many associations host parties for staff and/or members. Usually these are parties with a purpose.

ASAE and Multiview recently hosted the Annual Yule Rock Holiday Party at the Hard Rock Café in Washington, DC. The event, which usually draws attendance of more than 400 association executives, is billed as “offering entertainment and exceptional networking opportunities.”

That sounds like a winning combination. However, for some people navigating these types of events is nothing short of steering the Titanic. Giving some thought to how you’ll handle certain situations that you may encounter at this year’s holiday party may help you avoid what Geoffrey Tumlin calls “the festival of faux pas, awkwardness and other embarrassments.”

Tumlin, the author of Stop Talking, Start Communicating, offers five suggestions for avoiding potentially awkward situations during office holiday parties.

Master the graceful exit. Extract yourself from awkward or embarrassing conversations. You can tactfully break contact in most cases by excusing yourself to the food line, to the restroom, or by stating that you need to say hello to someone.

Invest five minutes in recalling names. No one likes to draw a blank on a name he or she should have known. The best way to increase the odds of remembering a name is to put it at the front of your mind before the interaction. Just before the party starts, take five minutes to recall the names of people you expect to see.

Partner up. A good party partner can get you out of all kinds of jams, including help with recalling names. Agree in advance with your spouse or with a coworker to automatically introduce himself whenever you hesitate for a moment upon encountering someone you should, but don’t, recall. This will trigger a reciprocal introduction and, crucially, will produce the name you can’t recall.

Don’t disguise stalking as networking. If a natural conversation with a higher-up emerges, that’s great. But don’t stand in line to talk to someone you barely know. Greet your boss and, perhaps, your boss’s boss. After that, relax and be open to any other conversations that may come your way.

Embargo the eggnog. Nothing reduces embarrassing office party incidents as effectively as steering clear of alcohol and the people who’ve had a bit too much of it.

It never hurts to share these suggestions with your staff to ensure that a good time is had by all. They may need a gentle reminder that while it’s a party, it’s not an invitation to abandon their professionalism.

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Open Sesame: Important Questions to Ask about Open Source Technology

Open Source SoftwareSoftware development has gone public with the introduction of open source technology. In a previous post, I identified investing in open source technology as one way for nonprofits to stretch their technology budgets.  Here I would like to draw your attention to critical issues you should consider determine if open source technology is the appropriate choice for your organization. In a recent article for The Nonprofit Times, Jay Leslie poses the question, “Is open source right for your organization?” He outlines both the pros and cons of nonprofit organizations using open source software. Drawing on Leslie’s insights, I have highlighted some important questions you should ask before moving forward with implementing open source technology. Do you have the in-house expertise to deploy the software? Leslie writes, “Some open source software packages are easy to get started with, but others expect you to have someone technically savvy to get them up and running.” How much customization do you need? Leslie notes, “For organizations looking to build a customized solution on an existing platform of functionality and features, the lack of restrictions on modification also makes open source software attractive.” Are you prepared to incur costs for training? Leslie offers the example of switching from an off-the-shelf operating system like Windows to an open source one like Linux: “Ease of use has also kept Linux from taking a larger market share. Microsoft and Apple both respond to market demand for ‘approachable’ operating systems, and switching an organization to Linux from Windows or OS X could require significant investments in training. Such costs could erase any savings earned by running a ‘free’ operating system.” Do you work collaboratively with other organizations to produce documents? Leslie asserts, “While you may be able to open an extensively formatted Microsoft Word document in OpenOffice or LibreOffice, trying to edit documents collaboratively between the two systems can cause more difficulty. This can be a serious problem if your organization produces documents collaboratively with other organizations that likely use Microsoft Office.” What customer relationship and/or content management systems are you currently using? On the positive side, Leslie notes, “open source CRM and CMS Platform Solutions can be just as friendly as their commercial counterparts. If ease of use of a particular function needs improvement, source code availability means a programmer could help an organization tailor that function to better fit its needs.” On the other hand, he cautions that “while most open source CRMs and CMSs are free to acquire,” nonprofits should “expect implementation costs similar or higher than what you will find among commercial options. You should also factor in ongoing consulting costs for support and maintenance.” To determine if open source is right for your organization, Leslie recommends that you “consider all your criteria, and prioritize them. Weigh your needs against compatibility and interoperability, ease of use, availability of support, and all associated costs.” And as with the evaluation of any technology tool, I would agree with his assertion that you should “make your decision based on how well a given solution fits your needs—not whether that solution is open source.” Original Article: Is Open Source Right For Your Organization
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Put Your Smart Phone Down

spemainphonesI love my smart phone, a Samsung Galaxy S4, as much as the next person. It’s great for communicating in and out of the office. I can be in touch with everyone about everything every minute of the day. But is that always a good thing? You may have missed an important point that a colleague made during a meeting because you were checking email. You could have overpaid for a product or service due to texting and being distracted while completing your transaction. Your friends or loved ones may feel ignored because you don’t make eye contact during conversations for fear that you’ll miss something earth shattering if you take your eyes off your phone for just a few seconds. If these scenarios are familiar to you and you want to stop letting your smart phone run your life, there is help. New York Times best-selling author of Wicked Success Inside Every Woman Vickie Milazzo says “being overly tapped into what’s happening on our smartphones isn’t a good thing.” She suggests that overuse of smart phones actually may be making us less smart and productive. Here are her five easy steps to “take back your life from your smartphone, recover your common sense and rediscover what it means to be productive.” Turn off cyberspace. There’s no greater blow to productivity than breaking your concentration to reply to an email or text as soon as it hits your smartphone. The more you’re connected to your smartphone the less you’re connected to yourself and the important task at hand. Tame the social media beast. It makes us feel good when friends or family “like” something we’ve posted or when we’re tagged in one of their photos. That’s one reason social media is so addicting; it’s like experiencing human hugs all day long. Turn off the lights and your phone. More and more of us are using our smartphones as watches and alarm clocks, keeping it plugged in to recharge on the bedside overnight. So long as your phone is plugged in, so are you. Crunch kale instead of candy. Games are fun, but they have their place, and that’s not at the breakfast, lunch or dinner table. Words with Friends can wait until you’ve had words and meals with family. There’s no room in the restroom for a phone call. We all know that smartphones carry more germs than a toilet seat, so why contaminate your bathroom with your phone? In addition, you’re sharing your business with total strangers. According to Milazzo, while it “may seem painful at first, making these changes to your smartphone habits won’t kill you.” Monitoring your smart phone use is definitely worth considering. You may be reading this post on your phone right now. Once you do, put it down.
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