The Center for Association Resources

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

Nonprofit Employment Actually Grew During The Recession:Report

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.

From The Huffington Post:

By Robbie Couch

Nonprofits are becoming an increasingly vital aspect of the American economy, new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows.

For the first time, the bureau has released jobs data regarding charitable organizations, as Trib Live Media reported. It found nonprofit employment, standing at 11.4 million jobs in 2012, is the third largest by sector when compared to all industries in the U.S. It comprised 10.3 percent of all non-government jobs.

Nonprofit growth was not hampered by the Great Recession in the same ways other sectors were, as charitable organizations experienced overall employment gains each year from 2007 to 2012. Read More

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

Plant Your Roots and Watch Them Grow: Creating Brand Evangelists

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.

From NonProfit Hub:

by Lyndsey Hrabik

Every nonprofit wants one thing—to achieve their mission. And in order to be a success it depends on the amount of people that care just as deeply for your cause as you do. So what’s going to make them a brand evangelist?

Sarah Durham explained during our webinar series that branding is more than a tagline or logo—it’s about perception.

Let’s break it down in terms of your organization. These are the seeds your organization should be planting to make sure your NPO’s roots are secured firmly in the ground.

Create Programs Worth Talking About

Good experiences are at the root of what creates every single brand evangelist. They start out loving the cause, but eventually end up loving the organization because of the experiences they have while trying to reach the mission.

I can’t stress this enough—ask questions. Ask your volunteers how you can improve their experience and the training programs you have in place. Ask donors what they like and dislike about the giving process. Find out if you’re doing a good job communicating with constituents. Are your messages effective? Do you need to reevaluate? Read More

Filed under: Association Resources, Center for Association Resources, Marketing, Strategic Planning, Strategy, The Center for Assocation Resources info

What Is A High-Performance Nonprofit?

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.

From Social Velocity:

I’m really excited to announce today’s launch of the Performance Imperative. The Performance Imperative is a detailed definition, created by a community of nonprofit thought leaders, of a high-performance nonprofit. The hope is with a clear definition of high-performance we can strengthen nonprofit efforts to achieve social change.

As we all know, we are living in a time of growing wealth inequality, crumbling institutions, political divides, and the list of social challenges goes on. The burden of finding solutions to these challenges increasingly falls to the nonprofit sector. So “good work” is no longer enough. We need to understand — through rigor and evidence — which solutions are working and which are not. Read More

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

Practicing Relationship Fundraising

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.

From the Veritus Group:

March 4, 2015 By Richard Perry and Jeff Schreifels
I found a very helpful graphic and writing from Craig Linton – www.fundraisingdetective.com – and I wanted to pass it on to you because Craig summarizes, in a very succinct way, the why for major gifts and the how to do major gifts (what you need to pay attention to).

He starts out by stating: “I’m convinced 2015 will be the year when fundraisers will be forced to implement the principles of relationship fundraising rather than just say the right things about them. The reason? The ever rising cost of donor acquisition and increasing attrition.”

This is the why. Read More

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

Nonprofit Boards Rated Slightly Above Average on Overall Performance

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.

From the NonProfit Resource Memo:

Would you give your board an A plus in performance? If yes, then you are in the minority according to Leading with Intent: A National Index of Nonprofit Board Practices, a report that indicates both nonprofit executives and board chairs consider their board performance only slightly above average, with an overall grade of B minus. Survey respondents from across the country rated their boards in various areas of responsibilities with average grades ranging from an A minus in mission to a C in fundraising.

The study, conducted by BoardSource, found that boards excel at tasks of a technical nature, such as compliance and fiscal oversight, while lagging in community outreach and acting as an “ambassador” for the organization. Other areas of improvement noted: Read more

Filed under: Association Resources, Center for Association Resources, Non-Profit, The Center for Assocation Resources info

Branding steps for Not-for-profit organizations

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.

Branding steps for Not-for-profit organizations

The association market is becoming more competitive, and members more demanding. Not-for profit organizations must work harder to secure the fundamental relationships that fuel their stability and growth. Building distinctive relationships between your organization, its members and potential members, is what branding is about.

We are often asked what makes the difference between an organization with an average brand and one with a distinctive/successful brand? Our answer is always the same…it’s the leaders, volunteers, staff and members who actively and enthusiastically engage in living and experiencing the unique brand promise day in and day out that makes the difference. An organization with an average brand becomes an organization with a great brand by living its values; that is the key ingredient for world-class association performance.

Aligning your organization, operations and culture around your brand values brings the promise to life and creates a deeper, stronger relationship with members, and increases prospective member interest.

A brand stands for the relationship that an organization has with its volunteers and staff, as much as it represents the relationship that it has with its members and prospective members through its product and service offering. For a brand to come to life, the organization must be internally aligned to deliver the brand promise through the organization’s culture, reward systems, key success activities and structure. In other words, the organization must ‘live’ the brand values in its day-to-day interactions. And its leaders must demonstrate their commitment to these values through behavior as well as communications and activities, demonstrating sincerity–not just rhetoric.

The most successful organizations demonstrate their commitment to their brand values in various ways including:

  • Effectively using communications to raise awareness and demonstrate its shared beliefs and vision reinforcing member focus

  • Giving volunteers and staff a deeper understanding of the brand promise and the behaviors and values the promise demands

  • Enabling all volunteers and staff to understand how their own work processes and responsibilities contribute to delivering the brand promise to members and prospective members

  • Changing and improving products and services to be in line with its brand promise and member needs

Areas of Opportunity for Not-for-Profit Organizations

The Center for Association Resources works to identify opportunities to align and enhance the organizations’s brand by studying industry trends, and its members. It is highly desirable that the brand be expressed in ways that optimize the potential of the organization and its members. Our discovery activities will include an evaluation of the existing brand to ascertain its equity and, if necessary, we will explore alternate naming possibilities. This realignment will also help to broaden offerings to the defined targets more effectively and efficiently. Specifically, we determine ways in which organizations can strengthen their relationships by supporting the marketing activities of their members.

Following is a summary of the process that we recommend in order to understand where and how a specific organization is perceived in the marketplace, what that means in terms of opportunities and how to make the most of those opportunities by creating a powerful brand.

We continue to work closely with organizations to leverage our branding process and insight in order to strategically position your organization, its core competencies, values and offerings. In short, our goal is to differentiate your organization and its offerings, and to ensure the delivery of a consistent branded experience. The Center for Association Resources puts into practice these same principles of responsiveness and offers a level of receptiveness to client concerns and market issues unusual to other full-service branding firms. As marketing and communications experts, we recognize the importance of developing messaging from the outside in as well as the inside out, and all of our processes support this strategic positioning.

Methodology Overview

Our brand development and integration methodology consists of three phases:

  • Phase 1, forms the assessment phase of analysis to establish the baseline level of required brand value from internal and external viewpoints and to determine segmentation opportunities and receptivity. With a baseline established, brand strategy development leads to recommendations that support an organization’s specific goals designed to humanize and differentiate the organization, examine its offerings and to focus implementation activities in the expression of the newly aligned brand for each service-centric opportunity within each segment (prospects, members and member’s practices).

  • Phase 2, the implementation phase, typically includes tactics such as integrated communications programs, and member and sponsor development programs, advertising and marketing campaigns, promotions, process and technology recommendations and enhancements, and behavior change programs designed to establish a branded experience across all segments.

  • Phase 3, creates strategies and programs for the maintenance of the brand over time, and measures the effectiveness of the branded experience against the baselines established during brand evaluation. By reapplying the brand valuation benchmarking technique, return on investment (ROI) and the importance of branding throughout the organization, within each offering, and within each defined segment can be evaluated and demonstrated quantitatively.

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

Culture of Philanthropy – the secret sauce of fundraising-the five steps to 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.

Culture of Philanthropy – the secret sauce of fundraising-the five steps to success-

 

According to The Center for Association Ressources, not-for-profit organizations are increasingly turning to philanthropy to increase revenue and expand programs for members. Before embarking on any fundraising project, ask yourself if your association has these five ingredients that are core to a culture of philanthropy. In a nutshell, a culture of philanthropy is about the donor and how to align his or her philanthropic goals with the organization’s mission.

Building a culture of philanthropy is not about feeling good; it’s also a savvy business decision.  Not-for-profit organizations that understand the power of philanthropy ultimately have stronger relationships with their donors who give more to support the mission.

Here’s what to look for:

  1. Donors are the focus of any fundraising effort and not the organization.  Are you helping them reach their own philanthropic goals?  Are you really listening to how they would like to support the organization?   By spending time to discern a donor’s own personal goals, you will deepen that donor’s relationship with your organization and ultimately increase the amount of giving.

  2. Fundraising is not about the money – it’s about the relationships that are created through fundraising.   While the money is obviously important, don’t let it guide the conversation.  It can lead to short-term thinking that short changes both the donor and the organization.   You will know it’s not about the relationship if the conversation is only about the next gift rather than the totality of that donor’s involvement.

  3. Building on that point, gifts are not considered one-off events but a stream of ever deepening involvement by the donor. Savvy organizations look at the donor’s lifetime arc of giving and how to build that relationship and investment. 

  1. Board and staff leaders are generously supporting the organization through their own giving.  Each year, they make sacrificial gifts in support of your mission.   The amount will vary, but the organization is clearly a priority in their giving.

  2. Internal and external messages and conversations are about the ultimate impact of the mission and not the immediate financial justification.   The fundraising is simply a tool to realizing that mission and not an end in itself.  

Contact The Center for Association Resources for more information on your organization’s potential for success in this growing area.

Robert O. Patterson, CEO, The Center for Association Resources

Mark D. Warner, Director of Development, The Center for Association Resources

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

Why be on Social Media?

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.

Why Be On Social Media?

Why should your association be using social media? Because everyone else is: your members, their clients and customers, and most importantly, your competition. At The Center for Association Resources, we have helped numerous client organizations navigate the constant emerging area of social media……could we help your organization?

With half the population of the United States using Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/), odds are high that some of them are interested in your cause, product or mission. Each of them, in turn, has their own network, further increasing your reach. Think of the silly videos that have gone viral: someone shared and asked others to do the same. They shared it with their friends and followers, and so on. Now imagine that’s your call to action or plea for emergency funds.

One of Twitter’s (http://twitter.com/) busiest days (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter) ever was the day Michael Jackson died, when 100,000 tweets per hour about it caused the site’s servers to crash. Word spread like wildfire. The same thing happened last spring during the revolutions in the Arab world. Never has there been a time when news can spread so fast. Imagine if it’s your good news or a request that people contact their legislators about a particular bill. People are literally helping to change the world from their laptops and smart phones.

People are connected and causes are connected. They’re already posting and tweeting about your issues. Shouldn’t you be there to drive the discussion, and, when necessary, correct misstatements, false facts and rumors.

Social media is immediate, thanks to the rapid growth of smart phones (BlackBerrys, Androids and iPhones) and the proliferation of free WiFi, or wireless broadband. More than half the users of both Twitter and Facebook access the sites from their mobile devices, according to their own statistics. That means your communication to your members, clients and customers reaches them 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Long gone are the days of communicating with business colleagues during business hours. In some cases they are accessing social media primarily after hours – at home or on the go.

According to a recent report from the Pew Research Internet and American Life Project, “The Social Media Landscape, (http://pewinternet.org/Presentations/2011/Sept/Social-Media-Landscape.aspx?src=prc-twitter)” 51 percent of all Internet users take part in social networking. For 18- to 29-year olds, it’s 83 percent and 70 percent for those 30 to 49 years old. That’s a large part of your audience. And lest you think social media is just for the young, the same report finds that 51 percent of Internet users 51 to 64 years old use it and 33 percent of those over 65. The last two numbers will only grow as the younger users age and continue to stay connected.

Much of social media had a truly social beginning: younger, mobile users and early adopters saw Facebook and Twitter as a way to find each other, keep up with each other and broaden their circles. And then their parents discovered it. Then savvy businesses saw the benefits. An interesting example of this is Foursquare (https://foursquare.com/), a location-based social networking site. Users on Foursquare check in at their destinations in the hope that friends will find them there. The destinations – bars, restaurants, businesses – in turn have begun rewarding check-ins with specials and discounts. Your members also may establish incentives for checking into events or volunteer activities.

As we discussed in the previous post (link to it), social media should work with your existing marketing efforts. What better way to increase subscribers to your newsletter or blog than tweeting or posting on Facebook link to different articles. The same is true for news releases and news coverage that you have put in your website’s news feed. It is important to keep pointing your followers back to your website, and your original message. As hot as Facebook, Twitter and the other social media sites are right now, the next big thing may be just around the corner, but your message stays the same.

Contact The Center for Association Resources today to learn how many of these exciting strategies can help your organization achieve it’s goals!

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

What is Social Media? And Who’s Using It?

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.

What is Social Media? And Who’s Using It?

It all starts with your message. Social media is a powerful marketing and communication tool which allows you to spread your message to your audiences. Social should work with – and enhance – your existing marketing efforts. Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media) defines it as “media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media use web-based technologies to transform and broadcast media monologues into social media dialogues.”

This is the first in a series of three blog posts by The Center for Association Resources that will explore the what, who, why and how of social media for associations.

Got news? Post a link to your news release, and resulting media coverage, on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/and Twitter (http://twitter.com/). Want to take the pulse of your members or customers? Ask a question in a LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/home?trk=hb_home) group. Did your CEO just give a great speech? Put it on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/) and post the links everywhere.

Social media is instant and interactive. Use it to talk to your members, and to listen to what they say back. Use it to mobilize your members, your constituencies, your friends and your followers to advocate on your behalf to lawmakers and thought leaders.

If you’re already using social media in your marketing, make sure your message is consistent and your content is up to date. Yes, it’s free, but you need to invest staff time and resources to do it right. If you’re not yet using social media in your association, here’s what you need to know about what’s out there and how to integrate it into your current plan.

Facebook is the best known and most widely used social media site. More than 741 million people worldwide use it, more than 155 million of them in the United States. That makes the American population of Facebook larger than the population of Russia or Japan. And every time one of them logs on to Facebook, he or she is a potential target of your message. And you thought it was just for catching up with old friends from high school or posting vacation photos.

Setting up a Facebook page is easy. Click on “Create a Page” on the bottom right side of your personal page. Follow the step-by-step instructions and start posting. But don’t do it in a vacuum. Put a link to it on your website and in your newsletter. Ask your Facebook friends to “like” your page. Within your organization, designate a staff member to maintain, monitor and moderate the page. Have more than one administrator, to ensure continuity should that person leave.

Try to post on your Facebook page at least once a week. Use a mix of association announcements – it’s a great way to plug events, association updates and relevant news from your industry sector. Your Facebook page is a great way to drive people back to the heart of your brand: your website. When you update a section, post a link and tell your followers to check it out. No big announcements this week? Highlight an interesting or helpful section of the website with a “Did you know … “ post with a link to it.

Use Twitter to send people to your Facebook page and your website. Twitter has more than 100 million users worldwide, more than half of whom log in daily to follow their interests. Unlike Facebook, you do not have to “friend” followers, so you can follow anyone and anyone can follow you. More and more people are getting their news first from their Twitter feeds. News of the recent east coast earthquake spread on Twitter almost as fast as the quake itself. With just 140 characters per “tweet” (Twitter post) it is an ideal environment for links back to your website, newsletter or Facebook page. Like you did for Facebook, have a designated tweeter to maintain a consistent message and style. And make sure you respond quickly to any questions, comments or negative tweets. Future Public Relations classes will be devoted to companies and organizations that failed to respond quickly to public complaints.

LinkedIn is the third social media site you should consider for your association. It is the most business-oriented of the three and has more than 120 million members in more than countries and territories. More than half its users are outside the United States. Organization leaders should have their own accounts, and regularly post relevant news, comments and questions. It also is becoming a great place to find new hires. Join or create a group and participate in the discussions there. Companies or associations can set up profiles and have followers just as individuals do. Have you set up yours?

And then, there’s Google Plus (https://plus.google.com/up/start/?continue=https://plus.google.com/&type=st&gpcaz=23db4111), the new kid on the social media block that’s attracted more than 43 million users in a very short period of time. The platform has been open to the public (previously, user were invited to join) about a week or so. Business profiles are planned, but not yet available, but association leaders should be active on Google+. One of the best reasons why? It’s Google.

Besides being the place where most people begin their Internet searches, Google’s umbrella includes YouTube and Blogger, so Google+ offers a great way to leverage all of those platforms. One of its most attractive features is “Hangouts (http://www.google.com/+/learnmore/),” which lets you chat with up to nine people through your computer or mobile device for free. For associations with staff in various cities, Hangouts can be an alternative to teleconferences.

Do you need to be on every one of these sites? Only you can answer that based on your message and your audience. A comprehensive social media strategy can enhance your current marketing plan. But before you jump in, figure out what you want to say – and to whom. And commit to it. An out-of-date, irrelevant social media presence is worse than none it all. Then, have fun engaging your audience. You’ll wonder why it took you so long.

We would be pleased to discuss this in more detail with you! Contact The Center for Association Resources today.

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

How to Use Social MediaHow 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.

Be sure to have a clear idea of what you want to communicate: news updates about your organization 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. At The Center for Association Resources, we have continue to see results for a variety of organizations that follow this guidance.

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 organizations 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!

In our experience, 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 your organization today!

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

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