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, , , , ,

Creating a Technology strategy

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 is imperative for a non profit organization to have a good technological strategy, because in this day and age people rely on their technology. It is surprisingly easy for an non profit organization to create a technology strategy, and it can usually be done in 2 steps. One of the ways to create a functioning technology strategy is to create a website to help spread the word by leasing out a web domain, creating a newsletter from their website that one can use to tell their followers about upcoming fundraisers goals, as well as just letting their followers know that they can follow this newsletter.

The first thing that a non profit organization should do when they are creating a technology strategy is to create a website. This will be the building blocks of their technology plan and from here they can install many things that will help boost awareness and keep their organization alive! There are many ways to create a website, but the one that most non profit organizations should use is to follow a few steps. Usually the non profit will want to lease out a web domain (I suggest Godaddy.com) which will be the http of their site. This is the place on the web where they will store their information. Usually this dosen’t cost very much, and can be leased for around 5 dollars a month. Next thing they will want to do is get somebody who can help design their website. This will ensure that it looks both professional and also in this economy web designers are looking for work and will normally settle for less than usual, and they will be even more willing if its for a non profit.

The next thing to do is create a news letter in the form of an RSS feed. This “RSS feed” will be available from their website and will let people who are trying to follow their cause have a way to get information on your recent doings. This will require the non profit to update the feed fairly regularly, or at least when they want people to know what they are doing. Creating an RSS feed is a fairly complicated process, so we won’t go into to it in this article, however there is a link included in the sources which goes over how to achieve this. Following these 2 steps will help create a solid and useful technology strategy!

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

Hotel contract negotiation

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.

Negotiating a contract with a hotel for your non-profit organization can be a difficult and time consuming process.  There are often many layers of the hotel to go through, mainly dealing with contracts, fundraising, their tax write off ability and, as a founder or negotiator of the contract, a lot of people to talk to at the hotel.

If you want to host a dinner at a hotel, you have to have a solid estimation of your visitors.  The important thing to remember here is that your attendees to your fundraiser are there to be entertained.  It is their checkbooks that are opening up for the sake of your organization.  They have to feel pampered.  Make sure you organize a few solid negotiating points for the hotel, like live music, vegetarian options for food and a cash bar.  I say cash bar because that will offer the hotel a chance to recoup some of the losses that they would face should they offer a large conference room for your organization.  Not only that, it is critical to use their name on your flyers, website and possibly offer them some future cross-marketing potential.  This way, the hotel recognizes that you are offering a service to your visitors (a live band), considering their needs as well as your own (vegetarian options) and the hotel is offered something as well.  The cross-marketing is an excellent point of negotiation because the duration of their involvement lasts beyond a single event.  Your organization recognizes them in terms of a strategic partner which may help you in the future.

Beyond conference rooms and fundraising partnerships, if your organization needs rooms at a hotel for a non-profit fair or are simply traveling for the purpose of expanding your organization, remember to network market your organization.  The more people who are educated and aware of your purpose and mission, the more leverage you can have in that town.  Ask for recommendations from friends, contacts, even law firms in the area.  If you can connect those you already know with people in the states or countries you are visiting, you can gain a lot of structured leverage.  Governmental organizations are thrilled to have non-profits because they take some of the public service burden off of the governments back.  Contact you local government, of whom your organization should have a strong relationship with and see if they know anyone in the city you are visiting.  They can use their contacts and networking for your organization and put you in touch with the hotels with either a discount or if you are lucky, a free room!

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

Tips for effective strategic planning

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.

In fulfilling their missions, nonprofits must make a plan, lest they follow the adage that those who don’t know where they are going will certainly get there. Strategic planning is a sort of road map that allows organizations to plan where they are going, how they will get there, and what benchmarks will prove that they have met their goals. An analogue is the business plan of a for-profit venture. However, the methods and the goals may be slightly different.

There are, of course, as many ways to approach strategic planning as there are nonprofit organizations. However, the means of putting plans together have key points in common. One important starting place is that the planning has to come on the heels of intimate knowledge of the organization, its constituents, its methods, and philosophy. One tip for strategic planning meetings is to assemble binders that have all these elements in them for planners. Some materials that may be useful to include are previous budgets and figures regarding service delivery. When things will happen is an important question to answer. Proposed timelines for implementation can be included in the binder to maximize the usefulness of the time and materials.

In addition to mechanics of fulfilling the mission of the organization, it is important for the binder to include materials that both present and illustrate the vision and values of the organization. During strategic planning, planners may even notice that a modification of the mission statement is necessary because of an evolution in the organization’s practice or purpose. Examples of how the values of the organization have been implemented in the past can be an important tool in planning for the future. While day-to-day management of the organization is not the focus of a strategic planning session, it should be included from an eagle’s-eye perspective. One thing to include in written materials is a list of key positions and how they support the fulfillment of the organization’s mission.

There will be a significant amount of information and action to discuss when doing strategic planning. Another tip for planning effectively is to allow enough time for reading and active discussion. Following that, it may be useful to change settings with planners. If planning has thus far occurred in a conference room setting, the final stage could take place at a restaurant or in a retreat setting. One final question to answer is what the results will be of successful implementation of the proposed plans. Looking at the answer to this question both at the beginning and the end of planning will inform the answers selected.

No matter what direction strategic planning takes, it is important to remember that whatever is determined must boil down to tangible steps and measurable results. If planners combine these with their passion for the work of the organization, strategic planning has the greatest chance of being successful. As planners take things a step further and clearly communicate the results and expectations of planning to the people within the organization who are affected, something commonly overlooked, they are planning for success.

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

July 2017
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