Thursday, January 31, 2008

Association Rejections

A very real aspect of association management is that we are in the people business. A really difficult aspect is talented people are selected from a group of talented people; and talented people are rejected from a group of talented people. Rejection sounds like a harsh word - but many times it's going to sound harsh no matter how well crafted the communication or how talented the competition. Does anything work?

1. The phrase "it's not personal" doesn't work. As one person said, "well it's personal to me".

2. End of a term. When someone not reappointed to a committee so room for new people to serve - "I guess you don't need me anymore since I wasn't asked back". Is there a need to tell someone they aren't going to be asked back if appointment to one year term? Even if thanked at the end of the year, doesn't change anything if disappointment ahead when not reappointed.

3. Saying goodbye via a big thank you. Friend given a plaque of appreciation instead of a reappointment; he thought it insulting because "if really appreciated [he'd] still be serving not collecting a goodbye thank-you." Do we hope no one notices they don't get to come back?

4. If send rejection letter it's going to be remembered and repeated - especially if it attempts any explanation beyond regret. There's a chance that as historically rejection arrives by mail (e.g., colleges rejections, employment decisions, "Dear John") that mail triggers even more negative feelings. At dinner with colleagues last night one was quoting from memory reasons given for why she didn't get selected for an office at an association. Unhappily quoted language many associations likely use too: lots of great candidates, need wide range of representation, more chances ahead, we're so fortunate to have level of interest. Yep, same words colleges and employers used to reject also used with volunteers.

5. Awards programs can mean some don't win. I love when great people are recognized. It makes me sad that when winners announced, we could be hurting others.

6. Nominating Committee means some aren't selected - and they know it. The "what did I do wrong" is torturous when the actual answer is they nothing wrong. Could be had to pick one of three stars. But still, it's personal to them.

Possible solutions:

1. I believe formal rejection letters to volunteers need to go away. I know there's typically great debate about appropriate times to use email, but a personal note by email rather than a formal "we had so many great choices" letter to a volunteer seems less harsh.

2. Better communication at the start of terms about philosophy of bringing in new people. Remind they once started as new person.

3. Phone calls from Nominating. Candidates frequently great and were willing to give up part of their lives to be officers. That deserves an immediate call. And no follow-up added rejection letter. Once a decision is made, don't make volunteers wait to find out one way or the other.

4. Do not break the news with an appreciation ceremony for those not getting reappointed.

5. If candidates for an award are known, there's no way around the winner/loser thing. But it's very possible to provide collective recognition. If candidates for an award are not known, keep it that way. As the saying goes, "first, do no harm".

It's the part of the job that completely breaks my heart. Because there are lots of great candidates, need wide range of representation, have to have room for new people, or only one can be selected. The answer is the answer. And like preferred method of communications, people may have a preferred method of rejection - and it could vary by individual, which is tough too. But the rejection can still feel "personal" to a volunteer even if the organization doesn't see it as a rejection.

Are there better ways?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Dangerous Labels

Do you tear the mailing label off the front of magazines when you leave them on an airplane? I always have and end up with a purse full of labels by the time I make it to the hotel in whatever city. Last night as my plane hovered over Chicago O'Hare for an hour bumping and bumping in the air, wondered why am I afraid of a magazine label? Is it a prehistoric identify theft concept or real.

After briefly (as in 3 minutes) investigating online, the (limited) thought is that anything with personally identifiable information could be a risk; and there's a bar code. Apparently the bar code has same info as label. Considering ease of Internet, is there risk someone on a next flight will take that label and do something with it. Like the intrigue of finding a message in a bottle and seeking something more about the person who dropped the bottle? Or does a magazine label on a plane lack that intrigue.

When plane finally got clearance to land in a storm, ultimately decided not to tempt fate and took the label. Do you do that?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Believing tap tap tap goes unnoticed

Our course and meeting evaluations, along with general comments during breaks, are evolving around one theme: anger about those who spend huge amounts of time looking at their blackberries (or similar device) during meetings and programs. Attendees complain the tapping significantly distracts them from listening. Instructors complain we're not stopping it.

Yes, we say turn cell phones off or set to vibrate; but that's not the issue. It's the tapping on little miniature keyboards during meetings and classes.

The one word that many in group I facilitated used to describe those who check their blackberries during a meeting or in a program is: Rude. They say tapping while others are listening, or constantly looking down to see what message arrived in the last 2 minutes is: Rude. Or the blackberry buzzing on the table and interrupting everyone by the act of getting up to go out to answer a call is: Rude. Diverse age ranges, majority who own/carry devices too.

Of course, I think it's fine, and both present and future way that many are going to participate, even if others believe it's rude. Some had own personal lines between when acceptable and when rude - e.g, if hundreds in the class, it's fine; unless you're the person next to that person and they distract you, then it's rude. Or if it's an emergency pending then fine to check the entire time but ordering holiday gifts or reading blogs - then it's rude. Since person next to you is likely a stranger, so no idea of your tapping purpose, then it's rude.

Notable points from the discussion:

1. Those who check (and respond) consistently believe they're quiet and not distracting. People around them disagree. Are they both right, or not?
2. Many may not engage at all if they can't engage with you AND be communicating simultaneously with others. Like me, they say they can multi-task through anything. Person next to them says they multi-task at expense of those who get stuck listening to tap tap.
3. Is it human nature to notice those who are looking distracted?
4. What happens when those who text their entire lives start to attend our organization conferences and meetings? Tap tap tap. Look down look down.

Someone's in for a rude awakening. The question is, who?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Thanks and Need for Speed

Now that most have capability of immediate communication it can really be meaningful to use it that way. There's something about getting compliments for a presentation (or whatever) immediately - gives a sense that so good they couldn't wait any longer to tell you again. The truth could be that it's easiest to do it right away so don't have to remember to do it later, but doesn't come off that way.

If you want to thank someone, and can do it immediately, why wait? You can still send formal letter, card, flowers, etc. later ... but why not the immediate thank you too?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Words to Perform By

Tennis legend Billie Jean King is reported to have sent Australian Open winner Maria Sharapova (pic) this text message the morning of the final game: "Champions take chances, and pressure is a privilege." Maria says that text advice helped her win perfect sets.

My thoughts:
1. Texting can be such a good alternative to email and calls;
2. Champions do take chances, but never thought of pressure as a privilege;
3. I'm slightly annoyed the AP reporter spelled Billie Jean incorrectly;
4. Do we text motivational messages to peers the morning of a big professional challenge?

I believe the quote includes words to live by in pressure-filled professions.

Friday, January 25, 2008

4 Ways to Solicit Sponsor Funds

Recent idea-sharing included these methods for soliciting sponsor funds:

1. Have companies "host" meetings. Becomes their responsibility to find sponsor(s). They'll use their own relationships. Always more effective when it's a customer/friend asking. Plus assures that company will show up.

2. Package a sponsorship program. For example, meeting sponsorship, charitable golf tournament hole sponsorship, trade show space, and/or website ad for one price. The big ask. Better than 4 calls and may expand their willingness to do more.

3. Form a sponsorship task force. Let a group brainstorm ideas on how to get sponsorship funds, and ensure the chairman asks them to each personally commit to finding at least one new sponsor. Many volunteers in our organizations are volunteers of many organizations - and have innovative ideas and contacts- they just haven't been asked.

4. Asking someone to recommit to same (or more) sponsorship from prior year is one of the few things that may actually work with direct mail request - as long as you have it entirely personalized (include name of contact, amount, event, likely benefit they received or good that was accomplished thanks to them). Or it could take a call.

And 2 things to think about:

1. You can have anything sponsored. When we landscaped our association we put a price tag on every tree and bush; and asked for sponsorships. All sponsored quickly. To save more landscaping money we hired a professional landscaper to design, buy and supervise the planting - but we had members donate their labor. Some wanted to plant the tree or bush they sponsored. It worked great. Five years later I mailed contributors pictures of "their tree" (now of course I'd email it or put on a website.)

2. Ask as early as possible for funds each year - and get the payments. Many organizations have limited budgets for contributions/sponsorships and others likely competing for those same dollars.

Have you done anything unique with sponsorships?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

An Interesting Goodbye

Today a gas station cashier relayed, "Have an interesting day." Found I spent time thinking about it, so likely contributed to me wanting (and having) an interesting day.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What's your atta-boy moment?

Early in my career I saw a state colleague walk across the room during a meeting to whisper to a national staff person an error he saw in a report. It had a strong impact on me because I knew an option he had was to make a public comment in front of everyone -- but he didn't. Some on the committee would have enjoyed watching the staff squirm (and generated atta-boys) - but the guy finding the problem wasn't one of those people. Before the end of the meeting a corrected version was distributed and what could have been embarrassing was a non-issue. That was my colleague's atta-boy.

Now I read blogs. I wonder if there's thought to the whisper anymore. Imagine you're staff of a national association and someone has a concern. Is the right step to make sport of it online because it will generate engagement with the disenchanted, or is it to invite a private conversation?

Who do you want in the room when you make a mistake?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

OK everybody, pose but act natural

It's official, my association's blog did not stop with daily reports of our Habitat Build in Alabama, it's now going to experiment with posts of a vast range of association activities and programs. Note word experiment. And I don't want a social media expert to ask where my long term strategy is -- let's just say it's fluid. Generated much interest and enthusiasm so far.

Few more things I've learned:
1. If getting daily posts from guest bloggers (at an event or otherwise), explain when time's up in advance;
2. Prepare guest bloggers for potential they'll be edited (assuming you'd edit);
3. Increase info provided to members about how they can start/improve blogs with their own businesses (e-newsletters, courses, etc.)
4. Use pictures - great way to give volunteers recognition - and adds interest. Although likely good idea to take picture before they put coats on at end of meeting (note how natural all look with my "pose but act natural" command);

5. Great way to expose range of what involved with. Yet another possible response to "we had no idea" ...

And analytics never fail to amaze me. What people search by, where link from, where they're from. If anyone's learned anything from your own organization's blog effort, would be interested in knowing what to do/avoid ....

Monday, January 21, 2008

Soon we'll just leave off the names too

Remember when name tags at conferences could help learn or remember names? Can we still read them?

Now they're on really long neck cords which end up buttoned inside jackets, hang way too low to read, or twist around so only the back of the tag and not the name shows. If sitting at a roundtable the tag drop below the table. They've been reinvented to be "admission passes" to get into education programs, or on extenders (that make them hang even lower) to facilitate exhibitor scanning at trade shows. Printable space on cords, badge and holders sold to sponsors.

But who can see the name when it's not in sight line?

There are magnetic ways to attach a name tag on a lapel/shirt (to avoid the days of pin marks or having nowhere to clip), and certain neck wallets can hang at a reasonable (readable) length with two cords for each side of the badge to ensure they aren't twisting, swinging, or way too low. Sometimes we reinvent away from a primary purpose.

I miss being able to read names at conferences. Am I the only one?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Unknowns about rental cars

Potential unknowns for those who rent cars ...

1. New word: Deeker.

A deeker is apparently (at least one) car rental agent slang for those who decline all the options when renting a car. Agents don't like deekers because they impact the commission to be made on each car. Never crossed my mind the car rental agent could make a commission too - with each option. Wonder if that's certain states or certain brands versus all?

One more reason to use Hertz #1 Club Gold. Can do deeker walk right to the car without stopping to talk with anyone. Found this link to's insider look at car rentals while reading Boomer Chronicles.

2. Better act faster than God.

Smart Money has article "10 things your rental car company won't tell you", including: "In another move to cut corners, rental companies across the board have begun making customers liable for damage caused by so-called acts of God, such as hurricanes and floods. Avis and Budget, the last major holdouts to this policy change, will soon be adding it, even to their frequent renters' contracts. The new rule means it's now up to renters either to return a car before the natural disaster hits, drive the vehicle out of harm's way...or pay up for the newly developed insurance option to cover this type of damage."

Live and learn. Sheesh.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Asking new members what to change

Facilitated retreat where new members from a board/chapter gave insight. Included:

* Make dues deadline at least month before holidays.
* Information overload in the beginning.
* Too many passwords and they're not easy to find.
* Want a one page summary and flowchart of how things work.
* Don't want to do anything political. Even if it's really easy.
* Astounded by rules and policies. Don't like word "can't".
* Too many acronyms.
* Heard expression "save a tree" a few times.
* Very clear about what they believe wastes their time.
* Loved the idea of encouraging multi-tasking at meetings/courses. Divide meeting rooms into multi-tasking section and section that doesn't.

Could these apply to many organizations?

Spent a lot of time on the political part (because so many critical issues that really require thousands to engage) and believe more than ever a real need to repackage our approaches - for member response.

Good news is they're willing to help develop solutions too. Any thoughts on repackaging requests to respond to legislative calls to action or contributing to PACs?

Friday, January 18, 2008

action, camera, lights, upload

Got unexpected gift of portable video camera in mail today. So looked it up on Amazon. Here's the scoop on the Flip Video:

1. Got 4-1/2 out of 5 stars from users;
2. Costs under $130;
3. Apparently will leave an ad at end of video when upload (not different from BlackBerry?)
4. Someone accidentally ran it through a dryer and it still worked. Someone else dropped it in snow while skiing with it, and no problem;
5. User put it in toddler's overalls and made a "toddler-cam". I wonder how my dog will feel about it hooked to him for "Baxter-cam"?
6. Can tape 60 minutes - no memory card. Play-back, delete, edit options;
7. Directly connects device to USB, which some don't like and others do (can use cable);
8. Very simple to use. Apparently good gift for 9 year olds too. (I used Super 8 movie camera at young age - including making family, friends, neighbors act out parables);
9. Can use with iDVD, play on television, upload to YouTube, post on blogs, play on computer, still pics, etc.;
10. Extremely lightweight and compact. Can fit anywhere, including pockets.

Apparently doesn't require reading directions, which is the first thing I'm testing. User comments such great feature of the Internet. Maybe I'll do a video series of association management parables - the prodigal volunteer, the finally dead issue coming back to life, good samaritans, etc.

Anyone else use this video camera?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Losing it for a cause ...

A flyer in a PAC fundraising manual was considerably different from others - features a fundraising competition between a man and a woman (both elected presidents) - and the loser will shave his/her head. Minimum PAC contribution of $25 to participate - with suggested giving up to $1000. Included Photoshop pictures of what each would look like without hair.

Was entirely intrigued, so emailed the woman on the flyer to find out who won and her thoughts about it. Her response: "Our Association can do some great things with technology (and they enjoyed every minute of it!) I did not shave my head, but was prepared to, if needed. I did shave Paul's head and the poor thing looked like a really badly groomed Yorkie! I was a little nervous the day of our Annual Membership Meeting, when we announced the winner/loser - I thought "we" had won the bet, but the announcement came across as if there was some doubt ... It was a lot of good natured fun, raised money, and Paul now regularly shaves his head. RPAC is very close to my heart ( ... and luckily not my head.) This was the second time I offered to shave my head, but didn't have to."

Now THAT is a committed volunteer fundraiser! And this particular association has the culture of giving for political purposes already deeply established, so routinely implement creative fundraising.

(Side note: Also love part where the man discovers he looks better without hair.)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Beware the Chair

Accustomed to testing technology before teaching or facilitating, but never thought about testing a chair. I actually rarely see a chair for me at all, but it was part of how the room was designed/configured.

Today's chair was very high, ergonomic, on wheels, and meant to work with the very high-tech computer and everything else enabled podium. But didn't master the chair the entire day. It wheeled everywhere, and I didn't seem to want to go with it. If you see one of these (pic) - except without the arms and much higher - you've been warned.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Big Step - Association Blog

After 4 months of writing a personal blog, took big step few days ago in starting a blog for the association I manage. Wanted to be sure I knew what I was doing before having one aimed for the general membership (5,000) ... along with whoever else may find it.

Decisions made so far:
1. Starting with specific program focus - our Habitat home build in Mobile, AL this week - readers can watch progress
2. Asked attendees (20) to send me pictures and postings - and I edit/post - told them they could even phone in reports or fax from hotel, but so far everyone has emailed (helps to have a tech-savvy membership who travel with laptops/blackberries - and hotel with free wireless in rooms) - I'm not there
3. I'm moderating comments
4. Watching analytics
5. Added blog link to Association site, direct link in e-newsletter, gave RSS/email subscription options

What finding:
1. Many attendees sent link to their sponsors, friends, families, colleagues to watch the trip (when my daughter went to a summer camp "Seeds of Peace" I read updates daily to find out what she was learning/doing each day - so understand the daily interest part)
2. 175 viewed first reports - and build actually starts today
3. Helpful way to show media reports - can link to video news clips and newspaper articles
4. Some may turn into bloggers when they return as they acclimate to it
5. Introduces blogs to some who don't generally (or ever) read them

What next: Who knows .... not sure where to take after this.

For those of you who also do blogs for your own associations, what has worked and not worked for you?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

8 things you don't know about me

There's a thing on blogs called meme - giving personal perspective on random topics or questions. Bloggers tag other bloggers to write things .... this time about themselves. Likely to make us seem like real people? I was tagged by Ben Martin on this topic, so here goes ....

8 things you don't know about me ...

1. Grew up in Miami. Went to beach every week from toddler until college. Once went to Cuba just for dinner.

2. Don't drink. Never liked the taste.

3. Was in a sorority and Navy ROTC freshman year at Auburn (transferred to GWU). Programming languages as electives helped shape my destiny.

4. Can't watch crime shows on television because they make me sad. Misfortune to know first-hand the very important roles forensic nurses, detectives, media, prosecutors, juries, surveillance cameras at businesses, and others play in being the last advocates for murder victims and their families.

5. Former vegetarian and distance runner. Gave up both one day while training for Chicago Marathon. Wanted a hamburger and running became more of a chore than a passion. Still wish I hadn't stopped.

6. Started working at an association immediately after college - because I could walk there from apartment building in downtown Chicago. At age 23, that was my criteria. Became an association CEO at 28.

7. Learned the importance of political involvement when I was a page in the Florida Senate for a week during my senior year of high school. That week in Tallahassee changed me.

8. Became dog fanatic when got
cairn terrier 4 years ago. Whole separate social network and experience connected to dog ownership that I really love.

I'll tag: GertieCranker. She's such a gifted writer and her personal blog is a glimpse into the realities of unexpected turn of events after retirement from 30 years in association management.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Best survey response

On survey of state association colleagues, this among responses to question "do you have any programs targeted at young members, and if so, what are they?"

"We try to limit the number of boring meetings, and we don't discourage multi-tasking during meetings"

Love that response. Would work for me too.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Getting evaluations returned

To get conference attendees to stay until the end, and return program evaluations, raffle tickets were given in exchange for completed evaluation forms. Raffle drawing was last part of the program. Definitely seemed to work - many holding up evaluations to get a raffle ticket. Five or 6 prizes (e.g., golf balls, box of chocolates).

Man at my table won, but didn't want to go to front of room to get his prize - so I (reluctantly) said I'd get it. Resulted in getting my name announced and picture taken. Prize: White House Christmas ornament featuring Grover Cleveland's wedding. Dozens at reception afterwards congratulated me on my "win".

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Blending of professional and personal

A wedding day surreal moment was realizing people from all aspects of my life were in a room together - childhood friends, relatives, neighbors, work colleagues (current and past), college friends, former roommates, etc. And then the brief fear they might all start sharing "favorite stories."

Flash forward 20 years and there's now Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media sites. So my compartmentalized life becomes considerably less compartmentalized as I'm "found" -- and now once again people from various aspects of my life are starting to share a space together -- college friends, relatives, work colleagues (current and past), etc. Personal and professional are blending, whether intended or not.

Recent New York Times article focused on reality employees lose jobs over "unprofessional" behavior on social media sites - even if meant to be personal, even if off-hours. And question came up, what's off-hours?

If association members are encouraged to join you on social networking sites, and it happens to be where also linked to people in non-business life -- where's the distinction between what's professional and what's personal life?

Think of these potential interesting scenarios -
1. College friends commenting on association issues;
2. Members commenting on relative posting vacation pics;
3. Colleague sharing "funny stories" for all to view.

We want to grow our social media sites? Could be really interesting ... or not.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

20 ideas to improve PAC auction success

Ideas to improve the success of a PAC auction:

1. Get money donations and buy saleable items;
2. Give plaques with “jewel-toned” stones (level of giving) to auction item donors;
3. Ask major donors to make their contribution night of auction;
4. Make bidding paddles with paper plates and wood craft sticks (write bidder numbers);
5. Consider white elephant auction (intentional unwanted items);
6. Have carbon receipt books to immediately give receipt with purchase amount to winner (while retaining copy). Allow to pay throughout evening at check-out desk – have enough processors;
7. Set minimum prices on silent auction items;
8. On all auction items, require bid increments – such as $5 so not getting bids that are fifty cents or $1 higher;
9. Use auctioneer with experience – advantage of one who knows audience is can personalize the guilt ask;
10. Have entry fee for event that enters into a raffle;
11. Exchange weekend packages with PAC fundraiser from other area (such as Maine exchange with Cape Cod);

Items that can be top sellers at auctions:
1. Signed sports memorabilia
2. Gas BBQ grills
3. Stuffed animals
4. Quality wines or liquor
5. Bicycles, kayaks
6. Unique kitchen equipment – cappuccino machine, bread maker, food processor
7. Trips to resort, beach, mountains
8. Inexpensive items with ties to members – cake baked by CEO, dinner prepared and served by association president
9. Value added items – look for ways to make a donation more memorable – ice hockey tickets with ride on zamboni; baseball tickets and able to walk on field; gift certificate to restaurant with meet the chef; flag flown over the Capitol; tickets to art museum with private tour by curator; lunch with local celebrity; tour of state capitol with association lobbyist

Note: Be sure to check state, federal, state PAC laws for disclosures, limitations, requirements (e.g., one-third rule), and/or potential prohibitions (e.g, corporate contributions, non-members).

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Looking for Love Boat - 9 Observations

Remember Gopher from the "Love Boat" ... Fred Grandy? He's now former Congressman Fred Grandy (R-IA) and spoke at conference today (pic) saying "democracy is a contact sport" ... and these ...

9 notable observations:1. Real threat to democracy is apathy - those who don't participate, don't contribute, don't vote
2. Need to be relentless and repetitive in communications on issues
3. Politics has always been rough - field of play can get dirty, refs are sometimes partial
4. Productive political investment is long term - transformational not transactional
5. Civic responsibility to participate - don't hold politics in contempt - necessary and noble fights6. Be a supplier of information to policy-makers - they need to learn
7. More success with targeted and limited agendas - be selective
8. You're never finished - business of associations requires ongoing advocacy
9. To get noticed, show up - hold issues roundtables, involve the media, get to know politicians

Fred Grandy trivia:
1. He's 59
2. Graduated from Harvard
3. Best man for David Eisenhower, who married Julie Nixon
4. Was CEO of Goodwill Industries for 6 years
5. Currently political radio commentator in DC

Didn't ask any questions as could likely scare colleagues if asking "Love Boat" versus political questions ... such as, what he thought about Julie being replaced, and if he ever went to Cabo San Lucas or if that only television ...

Monday, January 7, 2008

15 Ways to Raise PAC Funds

1. Annual dues bills (the best way)
2. New member invoices; affiliate bills
3. Direct phone call or request (next best)
4. Telethon - Pick up check or get credit card info
5. Solicit those who gave during past 5 years, but not this year
6. Wine tasting or beer tasting (pic) - entry fee, donated wine, wine expert
7. Link on web site
8. Promotion in e-newsletters, MLS bulletin
9. Rent a chair to sit at event
10. Create promotion video featuring lobbyist
11. Breakfast - make first small contribution, then envelopes for future amounts
12. Educate office staff to answer in 2 sentences why should make voluntary contribution to PAC
13. Event participation with contribution - horse races, baseball game, education, cocktails
14. Raffle or auction
15. Photo opportunities (get creative)

Note: Subject to state and federal PAC laws and restrictions; e.g., corporate donations, one-third rule, etc.

Do you have other successful PAC fundraising ideas?

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The first time is excruciating. Gets easier.

The first time I personally gave $1000 for a political purpose (to a PAC - political action committee) was by far the hardest. There are endless ways to use $1000 -- and making that kind of a personal financial commitment is big -- excruciating the first time, easier the second, then a more routine decision.

1. Will make you an absolute advocate for others to give too. Adds credibility to fundraising sincerity when noted among givers.
2. Will make you care about how PAC money used. I found anything remotely wasteful feels like it's MY money being wasted -- because it is.

How to justify it:
1. Really a political survival fund. Many laws/issues hugely detrimental - and those impact association executives' ability to be successful too.
2. Will make you instantly connect to political issues because of decision to contribute - and will improve your skills. When your money being spent for political purposes you're far more likely to engage in other political activities too.

How to fund it:
1. Some really can afford to do it, and all it takes is writing a personal check.
2. Earn the $1000 - easy to forget skills can be used (for a fee) with other organizations.

3. Give a lower amount. May be entirely unreasonable to give $1000 if trying to pay for health insurance, working part-time, or handling any number of life's expensive emergencies; but maybe setting aside $10 a week for 10 weeks to get to $100 is possible - or maybe giving $15 once is possible. Return bottles, sell something you hate on eBay, facilitate for a fee for another group .... let your contribution be what you earn. If you've never tried to sell on eBay - experiment for a cause.

Your contribution will make a difference - to the organization you donate to, and to your personal commitment because of that donation.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Woes of dues collections and dog grooming

Is there any service provider who makes you totally toe the line to get to use them? Mine's a dog groomer.

1. Half hour window (only) to drop off my dog
2. Have to be available in 5 hour window to pick him up
3. Forget my schedule. When they're ready I have to be ready
4. Cash only

When totally missed a grooming appointment, believed a chance I'd be fired as a customer. Make difficult calls all the time, but this one genuine concern. Their business doesn't need me - And I absolutely didn't want another groomer. Got a financial penalty, lecture, and dog groomed.

A hugely successful member tells clients she'll only work with them if they meet her requirements too. My dad tells patients they need to follow rules or they need to work with another doctor. Certain requirements result in better outcomes. Guess what happens? Their clients fall in line like me with the dog groomer.

Mediocre or sub-standard results may not be bad service providers, but rather great service providers allowing bad behavior to alter potential for a successful outcome. And who gets blame for bad results?

It can take 7 months to do association annual dues collection cycle - starting with 4 months of notices, ending with 3 months of fines/penalties. Outrageous amounts of time and conflict by some who don't want to pay but also don't want to leave. One key limited resource is staff time. How much better could programs be if not spending so much time chasing dues payments?

My dog groomer would never tolerate association dues calls. She can use her time to deliver exceptional service because she can fire time-consuming or difficult clients. Imagine that.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Pass the Hardhat

A recent successful fundraising activity involved passing around a hardhat to collect coins, dollars and forms with credit card donation info. Maybe it just triggers the idea of collection plates where people naturally reach for money and give? Fundraising doesn't always have to be complicated.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Rude awakening for $19

There's at least one area of association management where ignorance may be bliss (but probably shouldn't be). Specifically, how incredibly sedentary the day can be ...

Want to find out how sedentary? Buy a pedometer. For only $19 - a rude awakening. And that's for a good one - $4 might do it too. Thought 10 trips from my desk to get coffee racked up quite a distance cumulatively. It doesn't. Even adding in two walks with my dog (in the snow) results in under 2,000 steps. Recommended daily steps is 10,000/day ... or about 5 miles.

Many free online tools to encourage walking. Can even do a virtual walk across country (Delaware to California) with distances and location details - site has free online walking logs and maps. Anyone want to join me at Cape Henlopen Park (in DE - I've never heard of it - where the online map starts) - virtually - to see how far we can each get in one month? Takes 45 miles to get to Maryland border.

Requires little effort to wear a pedometer around; and encourages more steps.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

End of shushing ... Adapting to change

A favorite blog The Boomer Chronicles has a discussion about library policies and if it remains realistic to expect quiet. I've always expected and liked quiet libraries (and quiet movie theaters) but apparently the days of shushing are over -- and many libraries have reinvented themselves to try to appeal to a next generation of readers.

Comments on the blog from librarians include these:

"You're right. Libraries have changed, full stop. We supply CDs, DVDs, computers, the Internet (and with that gaming, Facebook, instant messaging, etc.) We offer classes and courses and (if you're lucky) 24/7 access to online databases and books. Some libraries will offer online chat reference, or video demonstrations on how to use our Internet catalogues. I can boast that our library has a coffee shop. We have listening stations, yoga in the program room, and computer games in the training room. We're a destination. After all, a library is a public space - a community center. Designed to serve the taxpayers who support it. So why not let those taxpayers determine how it should be used?"

"All I care about is that the library be a place where kids feel welcome. 'Fun Fun Fun!' is not necessarily the object, but it can't hurt for kids to feel like they can find fun at the library. In my opinion, the video games and DVDs and CDs and cafes and Internet computers, (and, in fact, the large stocks of best sellers for adults) are all just pump primers - bait to get parents to bring their kids into the library so that we librarians can engage those kids, make them feel comfortable in a book-filled environment, and convince them that reading itself is fun.

The decrease in leisure reading among young people is measurable, and has serious consequences in terms of their future achievement (see the recent NEA study on the subject, titled To Read or Not To Read). If I consider myself to have a mission, it is to put as many books as possible into the hands of young people. And you can't be talking up a book if you're busy shushing ....

Teenage mothers wheeling their strollers in? The baby starts to wail? You give them a hand checking out, but you don't pressure them to leave - these kids - and THEIR kids - are the ones on the knife edge. If these girls don't read Goodnight Moon to their kids, those babies are more likely to have babies themselves. It’s proven ....You guys who deplore the noise in libraries? You guys already read. You're doing great. We love you guys. I do wish that we had better accommodations for you ..... but until the nation’s reading scores and school systems are back where we'd like them to be, I think that libraries must try our best to make up for the educational shortfall in this country, and in part, that means making sure that our spaces are comfortable and welcoming to the readers most at risk."

As an association executive, the discussion woke me up:

1. Isn't this what happens to us? One group wants the association to accommodate one way of learning, another group wants to accommodate another way. And if we don't focus on the newest learners, then what's the future? Can everyone benefit from learning new ways - will those tools ultimately serve everyone? Recognizing organizations have limits, like libraries, then choices have to be made.

2. Supports the theory that removing some of the rules and policies makes the group accustomed to order and silence unhappy, while freeing up an environment for access, acceptance, conversation and reinvention.

Now when I notice the librarian isn't shushing anymore, guess it's me who needs to adapt. Even if I thought I didn't want to.