The Center for Association Resources

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

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, , , , ,

Fund raising in non-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.

It deals with strategies and methods involving the fund raising of non-profit organizations

Fund raising has always been an issue for most non-profit organizations. It is also a limiting factor in the reach and functioning capacity of the organization. A regular flow of funds is required to keep the organization in its tracks. All non-profit organizations should have a definite policy towards fund raising. Though fund raising is no easy job, it can be managed well with steady flow of funds and quality capital, all made possible with some fore planning and good execution.

Everything starts from the administration of the organization itself. The goals of the organization must be clearly set and should be viable for effective propaganda and response. For example, a group that simply says “save the trees” or “cancer research foundation” is going to pass up as just another organization. This should not be the case. The goals and achievements of the organization must clearly be seen from anybody’s perspective. It is what sets the targets and urges people to contribute funds. A good spokesperson and contact personnel are a must.

Managing the collected funds is another important factor. The contributors would also like to see how their money is being used up. A good team capable of budget planning is required. It can also be done by another third party. But it is better to keep the management of funds transparent as that itself can be used as a propaganda tool effectively.

A fully dedicated team of people is required to be set up for the sole purpose of fund raising. It must consist of planners, team leaders, liaisons, creative designers, advertisers and special people who can raise funds using their skills or status (e.g. Celebrities). This team must foresee and execute the various plans made towards fund raising. They must identify potential targets and decide on the way of approach. Having an effective team solely for this purpose can be the difference between efficiency and bankruptcy.

Target identification is the step involving the identification of the people from which the organization can raise funds. The most important target group will be the people who are directly connected with the goal of the organization (e.g. Persons affected by cancer are viable target groups for cancer research institutes). Other important target groups are business tycoons, general public, politicians, stars, celebrities and so on. Employing different methods for each of these groups are vital for success.

The methods that can be used for fund raising vary from simple handouts and posters to mega campaigns. But in order to be effective, it must be target specific. The common methods that can be employed are posters, handouts, TV shows, rallies, ads, demonstrations, campaigns etc. General public can be campaigned with posters and rallies, as well as mass media. A single TV show covering the activities of the organization can generate a lot of funds. Creative ads and posters in net can be a great propaganda tool (e.g. Green Peace ads). Corporate companies can be made to contribute by striking deals so that they can use the publicity and the organization can use the funds. Billionaires can be canvassed for donations. Having a celebrity in the organization can work wonders. In this age of social networking, a good ad in websites like Twitter can be very effective.

There are also other sources like fund raising shows, but it all comes to how the organization effectively uses them to further spread their propaganda. Instead of focusing on the immediate requirements, a definite long term policy and a good administration system towards fund raising can get any non-profit organization free from financial woes.

fund raising,non-profit,non-profit organization,methods of fund raising,The Center for Association Resources

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

Finding (and Keeping) Great Volunteers for Non-Profits

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.

Tips on how to recruit and retain volunteers in non-profit organizations.

Finding (and Keeping) Great Volunteers for Non-Profits

Good managers in non-profit organizations have always known that people are their greatest resource. In today’s challenging economy, non-profit groups are becoming increasingly reliant upon their volunteers to continue operations. Many tasks and roles previously filled by paid staffers are now filled by volunteers, and the new challenge facing non-profit managers and boards is how to attract and retain high-quality volunteers.

When looking for volunteers, non-profits need to be very clear about what type of person or group they are looking for, what specific task or role they would like accomplished and how unpaid workers will fit into their organizational team and objectives. It’s important to develop a clear job description for volunteers so that all parties involved understand expectations up front. It’s not uncommon for potential volunteers, especially highly skilled ones, to have a number of opportunities to choose from. Make sure your organization looks appealing and professional when soliciting help.

Think about what is going to inspire a bright, motivated individual to spend unpaid time helping your organization. Think about why someone would choose your non-profit to work with, and what benefits and experiences you can offer to a volunteer. Also, make plans for how to retain a great volunteer. Set up an ongoing volunteer recognition system to encourage people to continue with your organization. Things like thank-you cards and homemade gifts are usually appreciated, however it’s also important to take the time to get to know what’s really important to your volunteers. For example, if a person is trying to gain admission to a college, offer to write a recommendation letter for them. This type of ‘thank-you’ doesn’t cost your organization anything, but it can go a long way towards generating positive thoughts among volunteers.

Other considerations…

If you manage in a unionized organization, make sure to explore any possible concerns with using unpaid staff relative to the current union contract. Few things will drive away volunteers faster than becoming involved in labor disputes. Also, make sure that all your paid staff are clear about the need for, and roles of volunteers. Talking openly with the staff members of your non-profit will help alleviate any concerns they have about being replaced by unpaid workers. It’s important that all members of your organization, paid and unpaid, clearly understand their role within the staff team.

Volunteer, Non-Profit, Unpaid Workers, Organizations, Skilled volunteers,The Center for Association Resources

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

Testimonials for The Center for Association Resources

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 helps many non-profit organizations and associations to operate efficiently and effectively to reach your organization’s goals by providing comprehensive management services that enable them to focus on providing benefit to those who need their services.

Testimonials from a few of the people we work with shows the results best, and can be found at http://association-resources.com/testimonials.php . The Center for Association Resources welcomes feedback and requests from your non-profit organization.

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

What Do They Mean by “Non-Profit Organization”?

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.

Some of you may not know what a non-profit organization is in its entirety. You may wonder, “why do they call themselves non-profit organizations?” or “what’s the point of telling everyone that they’re non-profit?” The reason is because non-profits and for-profits have different sets of laws that they must abide by. The main difference between a for-profit and non-profit organization is ownership. Non-profit organizations don’t have owners, so they can’t sell their shares or personally benefit in any way. All profits gained by a non-profit organization would have to go into the organization for its self-preservation, expansion and future plans. None of the members are allowed to benefit financially from it. Non-profit organizations are often charities or service organizations, founded and supported by people who are dedicated and want to support a certain cause. Those causes are often charities or service organizations.

Nowadays, many non-profit organizations follow the same structure as for-profit organizations by using corporate leadership and managing their volunteers the same way for-profit organizations would. Foundations could give grants to non-profit organizations to support their cause. The performance of non-profit organizations is strongly dependent on its management, so some of them want experienced managers who have worked for for-profit organizations before. For a non-profit organization to be known, there are multiple ways for them to speak up. One of them is called community advocacy, which may involve changing the ideas and attitudes of the public through education, publications, websites, and by other means. Some non-profit organizations would even use legal advocacy, whereas they find the idea of having lawsuits would be a more effective method to gain public attention. This is because the complaints must be heard as long as it is presented properly.

Through these ways and some others, non-profit organizations can become well-known and benefit more from the donations of the general public.

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

Working with difficult people in non-profit associations

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 is more or less an unavoidable part of life in general. And this problem can present unique challenges in the business world. When it comes to the management of a business, there are bound to be difficult people at all steps during the process – Whether it is an angry, frustrated customer, or a ruthless, uncompromising board member. Difficult people are everywhere, and a successful leader should know how to work with them. The management of a nonprofit organization is certainly not exempt from the rule. Successfully running a nonprofit firm will include the unpleasant task of working with difficult people.

Perhaps you have a board member who makes a habit of being difficult. The first step to take in order to remedy the problem is to try to get to the source of the conflict. Why is the person being difficult; or, more accurately, why do you (and others) perceive them as being difficult? It is important as a manager or co-worker to put yourself in the person’s shoes. Are they being stubborn or strong-headed? Perhaps they simply feel that the job at hand is not being done properly, and are trying to get everyone else back on track. Are they being whiny or non-responsive? Perhaps they feel outnumbered, and are too reluctant to offer their own dissenting opinion when they feel that everyone else is against them. Understanding the difficult person’s viewpoint will help you to approach them without making them feel threatened or disliked.

If a difficult board member is posing too serious of a problem to the organization’s health, it may be time to develop a strategy to limit their impact or even remove them from the board. Check your firm’s bylaws for procedures regarding the removal of a board member; many bylaws will require a unanimous vote from the other board members. Whatever you do, do not violate your own organization’s bylaws, or you can be sure the offended person will pursue legal action. It is also an option to try to get the person to hand in their resignation.

Managers of nonprofit firms will likely not only have to work with difficult board members; they may also encounter difficult donors and volunteers. When dealing with a difficult donor, it is still important to try to approach the situation from their viewpoint, all while remembering your organization cannot function without the generosity of outside donors. The importance of trying not to trample on people’s egos should not be underestimated. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to certain aspects of a donor’s request for the use of the money if you feel they would compromise the vision of the organization. Try to make the difficult donor understand why you have a disagreement with them, while always remembering to speak in the positive. For instance: don’t negatively criticize the donor’s request, but instead talk positively about your organization’s goals, and explain why you think the donor’s goals might not be aligned properly with the organization’s.

Dealing with difficult volunteers is another problem that may arise. Again, it is always important to try to make sure the volunteer understands the company’s vision, and why their behavior may be compromising that vision. They would not be volunteering at your organization if they did not care about the work you do. If the situation cannot be resolved, it is always an option to politely tell the volunteer that they won’t be able to work with your organization in the future.

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

Fundraising ideas for non-profits

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.

Nonprofit organizations need funds to survive.  The fantastic news is that there is a vast array of ways to generate these much-needed funds.

One method of collecting funds for a nonprofit group is to create a well-designed website, with a “donate” section, for the organization.  This is a terrific way to receive donations as people can go to the website 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, And donations can be collected from people all over the world.  A shopping cart can be placed on the website; and products related to the organization’s cause can be sold on the website, as well.

Selling ad-space on the organization’s website is a fantastic idea that can bring in a lot of money.  Small businesses are always looking for places that are inexpensive to advertise their products or services.  Setting rates that small businesses can handle will attract many business owners, and add to the group’s bank account.

Another terrific idea is appealing for donations through social networks.  Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Linkedin are popular sites for generating donations and have been highly successful in creating funds for nonprofits.

Spare change can add up.  Placing a few collection jars in local grocery stores or other businesses can add up to a lot of money in a short time.  Giving their spare change away is easy for people. It can be surprising that giving just a little bit of change can add up to so much money.

Corporate sponsorship is another option.  This is when a large company gives money to a nonprofit cause.  They do this as a form of advertisement so that they will then be associated with the cause. The corporation benefits because they generate publicity for themselves, and the public sees them as generous.  They can also receive tax deductions for their donations.

Another source of support that nonprofit organizations can appeal to is grants.  Many public and private foundations offer grants to nonprofits to help with their causes. When applying for these grants, it is a smart idea to have an experienced grant writer write out the request and approach the foundation.

Fund raising events, such as walk-a-thons, car washes, bake sales, yard sales, craft sales, carnivals and auctions can be a fun way of making money for the group.  Another great way to earn money for your group is to sell products offered by companies specifically for fund raising.  These products include candy bars, candles, magazines, cookie dough, doughnuts, coupon books and popcorn.

When appealing for donations, one should keep in mind that donations of such things as equipment, office supplies and services can be just as valuable as money.  Often, a person may not have money to give, but they may be able to donate their time or services or a piece of furniture that the organization needs.

In conclusion, nonprofits need help to keep their organizations running.  There are many ways to obtain this help, and it is a win-win situation for all those involved.  Donors receive valuable tax deductions for their donations and the feeling of having given to their community, and the nonprofits can continue their work.

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

What is the Center for Association Resources?

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 is an Association Management firm in Schaumburg, Illinois, with Robert Patterson as the Chief Executive Officer. We provide management, consulting, and advisory services to primarily non-profit organizations and associations that need the expertise and management services we provide.

Our experience spans areas ranging from volunteer recruitment to assembling a productive and engaged board of directors, to developing association policies against substance abuse, drinking, and harassment. Your non-profit organization benefits from over 50 years of combined experience. We can provide numerous positive references and testimony from associations we presently benefit.

Filed under: Association Resources, Center for Association Resources, Leadership, The Center for Assocation Resources info, , , , , , ,

Use search engines to increase association recognition

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.

At The Center for Association Resources has published many articles about how to improve your association’s results using an effective online presence. These include
Non-profit organizations and associations benefit from community support, name recognition, and online presence. Search engines, such as Google and Yahoo, can provide traffic and accessibility to clients and those seeking to learn or donate to the association. Even a small center, organization, or association should have a website containing at least basic information about your services, and preferably a more interactive and engaging experience that raises interest and awareness of your association and its central objectives.

Providing useful content, in an accessible form, is critical to reaching the widest audience. Google is able to catalog text pages very well. Unfortunately, many sites have begun using Flash and other media to present information. This also makes life difficult for people with blindness or other disabilities that make using a graphical system difficult. If you’re going to have a  graphics version of your site, also make a text alternative available. This will increase your audience, and show that you care about those you serve and those who contribute to the success of your organization.

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

Being on guard for fraud in non-profits

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.

Non-profit organizations have a special need to prevent and detect fraud. While for profit organizations also must watch for fraud, the non-profit sector has some unique considerations.  To keep donations flowing, the need to maintain the public’s trust and protect the organization’s reputation is paramount.

Fraudulent acts which impact an organization can occur either outside or inside the organization. Some estimates put the total percentage of fraud for the non-profit sector as high as 13% of annual donations. While fraud is more often committed by lower level employees, the higher the employees’ position in the organization, the larger the total fraud losses tend to be.  CEOs commit the lowest percentage of fraudulent acts, but their fraud tends to involve larger monetary amounts.

Common types of internal fraud involve cash theft and erroneous expense reports. Physical assets can also be stolen from the organization. Frequent periodic audit of asset inventories can prevent and detect this type of fraud. Outright theft of cash donations needs to be prevented.  Controls such as having two people observe and count cash donations, segregation of duties for the receiving and accounting for donations and other routine cash controls can be beneficial in reducing the risk of cash theft.

Expense reports are also often a conduit for fraud. A system for verifying expense reports should be implemented and expense reports and receipts should be examined prior to payment. Externally, fraud by vendors, either with collusion from an employee, or committed totally by the vendor is also a concern. Some scenarios include a manager authorizing payment for goods never received or authorizing payment to a nonexistent company where the funds are ultimately received by the authorizing employee.  Segregation of duties for payment and purchasing, effective computerized payment system controls, and dual signature requirements for checks can reduce risk of this type of fraud. Periodic checks of vendor records to ensure that vendors actually exist are also a deterrent.

Top management at non-profits can set the tone for fraud prevention by establishing effective internal control policies. One of these controls that may seem surprising is mandating employees take vacation time accrued. Fraud is more difficult to cover up when the employee committing it is absent. The average amount of time a fraudulent activity occurs prior to catching it is 18 months. Occasionally these schemes have gone on for years without being identified. Sometimes fraud is identified by audits or internal controls. Sadly, fraud is often not caught until an organization fails due to the impact from fraud. Even if an organization is financially able to weather an episode of fraud, the loss of good reputation can often hamper the organization’s future fundraising efforts.

The potential negative effects of fraud on the non-profit organization compel everyone in a non-profit to be aware of the need for fraud prevention. The success and reputation of the organization depends on it.

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

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