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Is an association management firm focused on helping Non-Profit associations succeed in their mission.

How to Use Social Media by Robert O. Patterson and The Center for Association Resources

How to Use Social Media

You’ve opened a Twitter (http://twitter.com/) account, you’ve created a Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/) business page, and you and your association are on LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/home?trk=hb_home). Now what?

This third in a series of posts on the subject will answer that.

You already should have determined who in your organization will be doing the posting and tweeting (posting on Twitter). For consistency of message and style, it is best to keep those duties to just one or two people. If you are not the one doing the posting, make sure you are an administrator on the accounts and that you monitor your Facebook page, Twitter feed and other social media sites on a regular basis to know what is being said. We noted in the first (link to first blog post) blog post that while social media sites are free, you and your association need to invest staff time and resources into doing it right.

Have a clear idea of what you want to communicate: news updates about your association and your business sector; tie-ins to current events; links to your website, blog and newsletter. Make sure to have a good mix of posts. Constant self-promotion turns off followers. Ask questions and respond the answers.

Writing that first post or tweet may feel a little like walking into a freshman mixer. You fear nobody knows you and nobody will be interested in what you have to say. That’s not true. With more than 51 percent of Internet users in the United States engaged in social media, so there are many people out there interested in your cause, your association or your product. Be authentic in your posts and don’t always be in sales mode.

Know your audience. Unless you are certain they are overtly partisan or strongly identified with a particular faith or cause, keep your posts non-partisan and inclusive. If you wish your followers Merry Christmas, be sure to include holidays from other religions, as well. If someone posts an offensive response to something, delete it and apologize. Bad publicity is NOT better than no publicity at all.

Post photos and videos from your association’s events, and invite participants to share theirs. But stay away from wild or embarrassing shots. No need to be too authentic.

Finding followers is easy. They’re already reading your newsletter or blog. Invite them to follow you on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus (https://plus.google.com/up/start/?continue=https://plus.google.com/&type=st&gpcaz=23db4111), and suggest they ask others to do so as well. Ask your own personal Facebook friends and encourage co-workers to do the same. Suggest to other members of a LinkedIn group that you “like” each others’ Facebook business pages – and don’t forget to include the link to your own.

Leverage “old media,” and other venues to drive traffic to your website, Facebook business page or newsletter through the use of QR codes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_code). “QR” stands for quick response, and they’re those little black and white boxes that are starting to show up in ads, magazines and displays. Smart phone users scan them and go directly to wherever on the Internet that particular QR code send them. Real estate professionals are starting to put them on signs, for a link to a detailed description of the property. Food product displays might include links to recipes. Clever associations wanting to promote an event are putting them on posters and in ads to take people right to where they can buy tickets or sign up to volunteer. Creating a QR code is easy through numerous websites, like this one: http://myqr.co//. Be sure to test it before you publish it!

The social media world is constantly changing, as the rapid growth of Google Plus has proven. We continue to work with your organization to get the most out of your social media plan. Let us know how The Center for Association Resources can help.

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Filed under: Association Resources, Center for Association Resources, Leadership, Marketing, Non-Profit, Planning, Strategic Planning, Strategy, The Center for Assocation Resources info, Training, , , , ,

Board training…..getting qualified people on the board

Another in a series of articles related to association management selected from our reading list by:
Robert O. Patterson, JD
CEO/ Principal
The Center for Association Resources, Inc.

Board Training — Getting qualified people on the board – The Center for Association Resources

What constitutes an effective and productive board member at a non-profit? As part of the governing body of the organization, a good board member is one who first understands fully the group’s mission and goals, as well as its legal obligations and significant responsibilities. This is true whether a non-profit is in its infancy, is in transition to becoming a more mature organization, or is already an established institution. The non-profit board’s membership should consist of people who are either experienced in non-profit board functions or who are willing to proactively learn about the roles and acquire the tools and knowledge to be competent contributors.

Most of the time, individuals serve on a non-profit board because they are passionate about the cause. However, passion alone is not enough to fulfill the many duties asked of each board member. Time commitment is a necessary requirement – for attending board meetings, preparing for the meetings, reviewing proposals, budgets and other documents, and fundraising.

Speaking of fundraising, many people who are new to non-profits don’t realize that one of the main functions of the board is to raise money. These board members need to be comfortable with a common policy among non-profits to either donate funds themselves or actively fundraise (or both). Board members may also be asked to organize and host fundraising events or to meet with foundations or government agencies that award grants to non-profits. Time commitment aside, each board member should have sufficient business and leadership skills to approve budgets, establish a process to create a strategic plan, hire and evaluate the executive director, and ensure the legal and ethical integrity of the organization. In order to perform the roles and responsibilities dutifully, the board should evaluate its effectiveness and identify areas where a new board member may bring on skills that would be complementary.

During growth periods, a board may need to grow too. Sometimes the need to find new board members arises from resignation or when board members reach their term limit. Recruiting for board members may start with referrals from the current board, volunteers from the organization, or from the staff. There are services that match prospective board candidates with non-profit organizations such as boardnetUSA and VolunteerMatch. The tasks of screening and determining a board candidate’s qualifications rest with the board. There should be a process to evaluate the candidate as well as a process to bring the new person on board.

As leaders wanting to make a difference, the board must be made up of individuals who have sound business skills, experience with board duties and functions and commitment to developing a strong board by ensuring each member is qualified to meet the needs of the non-profit organization.

Filed under: Association Resources, Center for Association Resources, Chicago, Fund Raising, Leadership, Marketing, Non-Profit, Planning, Strategic Planning, Strategy, The Center for Assocation Resources info, Training, , ,

Benchmarking for success

Another in a series of articles related to association management selected from our reading list by:
Robert O. Patterson, JD
CEO/ Principal
The Center for Association Resources, Inc.

Benchmarking for success

Benchmarking is a measurement tool non-profits can use to gauge both their successes and areas for improvement. It can be defined as the standard of excellence by which other activities should be judged.

Though benchmarking was first used by corporations, it is a useful tool for non-profits to adopt. Activities involved include goal setting, comparative measurement, and identification and implementation of best practices. Other key benchmarking activities include defining successful outcomes for services rendered, gathering lessons learned, and then defining and applying best practices from these lessons. Determining what measurements are meaningful is a vital part of the process.

A non-profit can use benchmarking to compare its current performance against the past, or to that of similar non-profits. The scope of the benchmarking can include all aspects of the organization, from fundraising, to administrative costs, to providing services relevant to the organization’s mission. While a lot of the benchmarking results will be for internal use, one measurement interested publics will want to know about is the percentage of administrative costs vs. percentage of funds used to provide services. If an organization establishes benchmarks that show it is keeping the percentage constant or low, it can use this information as a powerful data point during fundraising drives.

Another key measurement for organizations is how well they are implementing services crucial to the organization’s mission. For instance, a human services organization could poll the consumers of their services to find out what aspects worked well and which need improvement. Benchmarks ideally should be specific and measurable. Vague benchmarks will be difficult to measure and will likely not provide useful information.

Top levels of the non-profit often need to lead the way toward benchmarking. Those in the trenches providing services often do not immediately see the need for it, as it consumes time that could be spent on mission-critical activities. Challenges for establishing and implementing benchmarking activities include overcoming individuals’ resistance to change as well as defining measurement and success for disparate or complex activities. Involving field personnel in the benchmarking process may facilitate overcoming some of these challenges.

Benchmarking for non-profits is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. The organization’s culture, mission and location must be considered. For instance, a non-profit whose mission focuses on the fine arts may have very different benchmarks from one servicing basic human needs such as sanitation or health care. An analysis of needs vs. goals should be performed with the unique circumstances of the organization in mind.

Once internal benchmarking has been completed, communicating the results with stakeholder audiences can increase public confidence in the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization. But benchmarking should not be just an internal exercise. Public perception of the organization’s effectiveness is also an important item to gauge. Feedback gathered from surveys, focus groups and online comments can be used to measure how the organization’s activities are perceived by the community at large. Positive public perception can have a direct impact on donations, so this is an important area to monitor.

Though benchmarking requires a well-thought-out plan, time and commitment of resources – and sometimes challenges – the potential for internal improvement and positive public reputation make the time spent worthwhile.

Filed under: Association Resources, Center for Association Resources, Fund Raising, Leadership, Planning, Strategic Planning, Strategy, The Center for Assocation Resources info, , , ,

Working with difficult people

Another in a series of articles related to association management selected from our reading list by:
Robert O. Patterson, JD
CEO/ Principal
The Center for Association Resources, Inc.

Working with difficult people

Difficult people are everywhere – our homes, our neighborhoods, our families and our offices. Eventually, a challenging employee, volunteer or co-worker will find their way into your non-profit organization. Learning how to handle them and to redirect them in a positive way can save a great deal of time, trouble, wasted resources and stress.

When it comes to a challenging person, there are plenty of things not to do. For example, don’t ignore threatening or abusive behavior. Also, don’t ignore the problem and hope it goes away. It won’t, and chances are, if you are having difficulties, so are others in your organization. Anonymous or veiled methods of dealing with the problem, such as notes or shunning, might be tempting courses of action, but they are rarely effective.  They only serve to alienate the person and make the situation worse. Dealing with the situation, head on, in a positive way, can not only solve the problem, but build an environment of trust and respect among colleagues.

The first aspect to look at, when determining how to work with a difficult person, is to determine what is making them difficult. Are they constantly talking over others? Are they reluctant to really get involved in their work? Do they have problems working with certain types of people? Do they need to be in charge, or the center of attention?

Understanding that these behaviors have underlying drivers can assist in finding ways to not only neutralize the difficult behavior, but often turn that energy into a positive force. Those people who need to be in charge can be given a small leadership position, whether it’s managing an outreach project or being in charge of organizing the supply closet. Giving them a task that they can be in charge of and be recognized for takes away the challenge and turns it into a positive.

If the difficulties lie in behavior, pulling the person aside and calmly stating your issues can go a long way toward fostering an understanding about what is and is not appropriate. For a serial interrupter, explaining that being interrupted makes you feel as if your contributions aren’t important and asking to be heard will let your colleague know how the specific behavior is impacting you.

When confronting your colleague, peer or subordinate, it’s very important to use “I” statements and to avoid accusing the other person of wrongdoing. “When I’m interrupted during a meeting, I feel as if my ideas aren’t valued. I would really appreciate being able to finish sharing my ideas before others discuss them” will go much further toward fostering an environment of understanding than: “You’re always interrupting me and you don’t value my ideas!” Discussing potentially sensitive topics with understanding and respect can turn an argument into an enriching experience.

Even the most irritating people are with your non-profit for a reason. They most likely share the same concerns, passions and ideals as you. Finding common ground and finding ways to use everyone’s talents to the fullest will benefit everyone: the organization, coworkers and the difficult person.

The Center for Association Resources can be found at http://Association-Resources.com/ – Contact Robert Patterson for your Non-Profit association needs.


Filed under: Association Resources, Center for Association Resources, Fund Raising, Leadership, Non-Profit, Planning, Strategic Planning, Strategy, The Center for Assocation Resources info, Training

Collaboration with other NPOs: A Win-Win Situation

Another in a series of articles related to association management selected from our reading list by:
Robert O. Patterson, JD
CEO/ Principal
The Center for Association Resources, Inc.

The Center for Association Resources presents

Collaboration with other NPOs: A Win-Win Situation

An avenue worth exploring for your non-profit – whether you are a start-up or a mature organization – is collaboration with one or more other NPOs whose missions and goals are complementary to yours. As budgets get squeezed tighter and tighter, and effort spent on fundraising becomes more and more time-consuming, it might pay to see how your group can create synergies with other organizations.

For new NPOs, initial goals will include plans to raise funds in both the short- and long-term. How you go about that fundraising is a topic for another blog post; this article will focus on a perhaps untapped resource in your local network of charitable organizations – other NPOs that are more established.

These other groups already have a track record of success, so try to tap into their expertise. (At the same time, examine your organization to see what you bring to the table. This should be a win-win situation for all involved.) How can you find these complementary organizations? Start out local, by checking with the United Way in your locale for a list of organizations they support. Websites such as www.charitynavigator.com and www.guidestar.com have searchable databases that you can access for free. Additionally, the National Center for Charitable Statistics (part of the Urban Institute) allows you to search its public database of charities by NTEE (National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities). You can access the database by visiting http://bit.ly/umPHm.

Once you have made a connection with an organization similar to yours, what sorts of collaborative events can you host? For starters, a lot of groups host annual fundraisers designed to bring visibility – and cash – to the organization and its mission. Perhaps your NPO can partner with another to cohost such an event, with proceeds split appropriately between the two groups. The power of collaboration has the possibility of providing synergies, as the groups work together on marketing and promoting the event, as well as logistics. Consider also the possibility of sharing back-office functions as a way to reduce overhead costs. Truly, the possibilities of what you can do with other NPOs is limited only by your imagination. Who knows – working together for mutual benefit could even lead to a merger of the two separate organizations into one larger group that is stronger and more efficient.

The bottom-line question that must be asked is, what do you really stand to gain from collaborating with other NPOs? Can they really provide anything you wouldn’t be able to secure on your own? After all, competition exists in every facet of public and private business in America, and in that respect NPOs aren’t that much different from corporate America. You might be trying to engage the same groups of people as donors or competing for the same government grants, for example. But NPOs might be better off if they work together. It’s already a difficult marketplace to survive and thrive in, and NPOs face specific dilemmas unique to their distinctive manner of practicing business, particularly as it relates to raising funds. If you can learn from other NPOs, you can either take a leaf from their book, or, conversely, you can gauge where and how other NPOs are succeeding and learn what resources might be available to your organization.

The Center for Association Resources can be found at http://Association-Resources.com/ – Contact Robert Patterson for your Non-Profit association needs.

Filed under: Association Resources, Center for Association Resources, Fund Raising, Leadership, Non-Profit, Planning, Strategic Planning, Strategy, The Center for Assocation Resources info

Non-Profit Organizations – a boon to our society pub. by The Center for Association Resources

Non-Profit Organizations – a boon to our society

According to the IRS, there are more than 1.4 million registered non-profit organizations in America today. Most of these have annual budgets of less than $25,000, so they are working on a shoestring to solve some of society’s most intractable problems, as well as to bring arts and culture to communities around the country.

A lot of these organizations provide their services for free or for low prices; therefore, they depend on donations to carry out their work. The people involved with these organizations, as volunteers or staffers, are working in the trenches and are a boon to society by virtue of their contributions.

Non-profits working with children can help our society grow and prosper because they are reaching out to help needy families who are raising the next generation. There are many success stories of adults who were helped out of poverty or had a career path set out for them through the help of an organization focused on children. Such groups, like those that provide needs-based scholarships, expect nothing in return for their assistance except to see a student succeed in school as well as in life.

There are many reasons to get involved with a non-profit organization: a desire to do and see good in the world; for a more satisfying career; to make good use of spare time once retired are just three. The rewards are often more intrinsic than monetary, but every kind of skill is needed to make a non-profit run efficiently.

For those interested in getting involved with a non-profit organization at a deeper level than providing a monetary donation, there are numerous ways to get involved. Small organizations in your city or town always need volunteers; check with your local United Way for a listing of groups in your community and contact ones that interest you to see how you can help. The on-line service, www.volunteermatch.com, can help connect you with an appropriate charity that matches your interests, as well.

The gift of time (and/or treasure) can be very gratifying, and goes a long way toward helping non-profits continue to be a boon to American society.

The Center for Association Resources can be found at http://Association-Resources.com/

Filed under: Association Resources, Center for Association Resources

Barktown Dog Rescue: One Non-Profit’s Story – Published by The Center for Association Resources

Barktown Dog Rescue: One Non-Profit’s Story

May 25, 2011 • 1:11 pm 0

Barktown dog rescue is a non-profit organization for stray and abandoned dogs (as well as a few cats) in Kentucky. Volunteers there rescue and foster animals until a “forever” home, or as they call it, a “fur’ever” home, is found. These foster parents daily see and deal with abused animals, which makes it an environment for the strong-hearted.

TV reports often portray many of these abandoned dogs as bad-tempered, but at least one volunteer says she has never worried about any of the dogs she has brought into her home, to the point she trusts them alone with her young daughter. Many of the animals are so scared of humans that at first they can barely be petted. From this volunteer’s viewpoint, the work is sad, but also rewarding, especially when someone adopts a dog instead of buying one from a breeder or puppy mill.

Like at many non-profits, the budget is tight. Barktown Dog Rescue makes dollars stretch by being creative. They partner with local veterinarians, for example, to offer assistance for spay and neuter clinics. These low-cost clinics allow families to take advantage of a $20 or $30 operation, saving hundreds of dollars over the cost of comparable procedures at a full-price clinic. Many of these vets also offer food and shelter for the dogs when there are not enough foster homes available.

A major expense for Barktown is boarding rescues and strays when there are more dogs than foster parents. To raise money for such times, the organization makes dog treats that are sold at local businesses. They also engage in monthly donation drives at businesses around town. Barktown also receives revenues when an adoption is finalized. All monies go toward veterinary bills and any medicines or shots that the animals need.

Barktown can be found on the Web at www.barktownrescue.org. The group accepts donations on-line.

The Center for Association Resources can be found at http://Association-Resources.com/

Filed under: Association Resources, Center for Association Resources, Fund Raising, Non-Profit, Planning, Strategic Planning, Strategy, The Center for Assocation Resources info

Change for the Children: A Celebrity Charity Making a Difference

Another in a series of articles related to association management selected from our reading list by:
Robert O. Patterson, JD
CEO/ Principal
The Center for Association Resources, Inc.

May 21, 2011 • 10:54 am 0

Change for the Children: A Celebrity Charity Making a Difference

Non-profit organization for children, run by the Jonas Brothers

Published by The Center for Association Resources

IRS records show that there are more than 1.4 million registered non-profit organizations in the United States. With so many doing great work and having a positive impact on society, how do you choose which ones to support? Below is one person’s story about their favorite charity.

My favorite non-profit organization is one run by the Jonas Brothers called Change for the Children (www.changeforthechildren.org). Each one of the brothers has a different cause that they support. Nick’s cause is childhood diabetes, because it is something that he lives with. Joe’s cause is Special Olympics and Kevin’s cause is volunteerism. Kevin, Nick and Joe all work together to make the change they want to see in the world possible, and they make it possible for their fans to get involved as well.

The program is based on kids helping other kids who are less fortunate. All the money raised by Change for the Children actually goes to the kids who need it the most, not the Jonas Brothers. Many times, children can feel alone in the world and feel like no one else is going through what they are going through. Initially, this is how Nick Jonas felt when he was diagnosed with childhood diabetes, and it is what inspired him to start this non-profit organization in the first place. He wants to help kids get connected with other kids who are going through similar situations, so that they can be a support system for each other. He said that by doing so, they are “improving the quality of life.”

The organization offers many ways to get involved. The website offers ideas, such as organizing a walk or run for those affected by diabetes or those who are disabled. If you do not have time to organize an activity, you can purchase shirts and necklaces. All proceeds from sale of merchandise go to diabetic children in need.

Many people think the Jonas Brothers are just another teenage fad, but in my view, they are doing something great for their fans and children across the country. They are the brains behind Change for the Children, and have made many donations and contributions to help kids in need all across America and in other countries as well. They are helping to make the changes they wanted to see become reality and they are getting fans involved as well. Change for the Children is a non-profit organization that I support now, and I hope you will too.

The Center for Association Resources

Filed under: Uncategorized

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