Association Today

Association News You Can Use

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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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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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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Some Angst Over AMS

Guest Post by Kizaan Knapp, Fonteva Marketing Director photo-3Last week I had the pleasure of attending ASAE’s Technology Conference. The atmosphere at the show this year was very vibrant and energetic. Thanks to all of you who stopped by our booth to share your comments and challenges regarding association management software systems. It was great to be able hear your concerns first-hand. A recurring statement I heard from attendees was, “We are looking at replacing our AMS, but I don’t even know where to start.” This wasn’t all that surprising. Considering the replacement of your AMS is a daunting undertaking. Most often association executives are clear about what isn’t working with their current AMS. For instance, according to the 2012 “Lehman Reports Annual Study: Association Management Software Use and Satisfaction,” more than 90 percent of survey respondents said customer relationship management should be part of their membership management systems. Yet, 40 percent were not fully satisfied with the CRM capabilities their current systems provide. In a similar vein, more than 40 percent said “their association reporting needs frequently exceed the capabilities resident within their AMS systems.” It follows that the top reasons stated for initiating the process to upgrade or replace their current membership management Platform Solutions (with a new product and provider) were greater capabilities to integrate web/other applications and dissatisfaction with current function and capabilities. At Fonteva, we understand how critical it is to carefully evaluate the benefits and disadvantages of your current AMS before making the decision to change it. That’s why we offer a free AMS assessment to prospective customers. We invite you to work with our team of experts to find out what’s working with your AMS and what isn’t.  Our assessment helps you evaluate your current association management technology and how it is or isn’t aligned with our current business goals and metrics. Whether you chose to implement our AMS solution Fonteva For Associations is up to you, but we would like to assist you in moving past the angst of getting starting so that you can begin to advance your organization’s goals and objectives. Replacing your AMS may seem like a journey of thousand miles, but we would like to help you take that first step.
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Hashtags & Heroes: Batkid to the Rescue

batkidWishes really do come true, especially if an entire community rallies together to make it happen. His leukemia in remission, five-year-old Miles Scott wanted to be a superhero for a day, and the Greater Bay Area Make-A-Wish Foundation made it happen. And the organization made it easy for thousands of San Franciscans to get into the act as well. It all started with a hashtag. If the hashtag #SFBatkid doesn’t mean anything to you, you missed out on arguably one of the most significant social media events of this year.  Several sources reported that 78,000 tweets were generated about Batkid, and at least 10,000 photos were posted on Instagram. The hashtag created to publicize Batkid’s adventures was essential in turning an already extraordinary day into a social phenomenon.  “How can we have a Batkid moment at our events? First, we need to use social tools as they’re meant to be used: to share fun thoughts, moments and images with friends, followers, fans, family members and random strangers,” writes Amy Braiterman in a post on the NPEngage blog.  “All you need to get started is a hashtag, yes a hashtag.  Hashtags have taken over.” Indeed they have. According to Popoffer’s infographic “History of #Hashtags,” hashtags were first proposed for use on Twitter in August 2007, and in just six years, getting people to talk about brands is one of their primary uses. With appropriate planning, nonprofit organizations can harness the power of hashtags and other social media tools to manage successful marketing and PR campaigns. After all, people can’t stop talking and tweeting about Batkid. As reported in USA Today, San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee declared "November 15, 2013, [as] Batkid day forever." You might give some thought to how your organization can create its own forever moment.
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