Sector and AuSAE News

  • 07 May 2021 5:34 AM | Brett Jeffery, CAE (Administrator)

    Many accounts of how boards have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic highlight a closer than usual collaboration between boards and their management teams. The nature of the crisis has required ‘all hands to the pumps’ in many organisations and has forced the usually accepted division of labour to be set aside in the short-term interests of survival. This has seen many board members rolling up their sleeves and becoming a de facto part of the management team.

    Board members can be a valuable source of advice and assistance for the chief executive and staff at any time, but especially in a crisis when making the best use of all available resources is vital. It is often necessary to set aside role formality, hierarchy and status differences to access board members, many of whom have extensive executive experience themselves. Older directors have often gained hard-won experience, for example, in past economic downturns. Having everyone pitch in can add significantly to the energy, flexibility and speed of decision-making needed to survive a crisis. It can also create a satisfying sense that ‘we are all in this together’.

    But crises pass. Many boards are now thinking about what their pandemic response experience might suggest as a better ‘new normal’. As part of this, some are undoubtedly considering the benefits of having a different kind of working relationship with management. However, it should not be assumed that what worked (and was necessary) during a crisis will work just as well in ‘peacetime’.

    A particular point to be conscious of is the need for absolute clarity between respective board and staff roles and responsibilities. Whether in a crisis situation or not, one constant risk is that directors’ advice can be experienced or interpreted by employee recipients as instruction. When that confusion happens, the essential chain of accountability (board-chief executive-staff) is at risk. For example:

    • Staff members on the end of individual directors’ advice are unsure as to its authority.
    • Staff members receiving contrary advice from different board members face calculating whose advice they can least afford to ignore.
    • Faced with advice they know to be contrary to their own experience or their best professional judgement, they are uncertain—even fearful—about the consequences of not following that advice.
    • When different board members offer conflicting advice, the board's collective authority is fragmented and undermined.

    If board members are conscious of these risks, they may be wary of crossing the boundary between governance and management, and reluctant to offer valuable and timely advice when it would be helpful.

    Basic principles in the board/staff relationship

    For a fully effective board/staff working relationship, nothing good comes from this kind of hesitancy and confusion. However, an understanding of some basic principles (and the disciplined application of them) can easily prevent the problem from arising.

    Giving instruction

    This sits primarily at the board/chief executive interface and should embrace the following principles.

    1.  The board should issue instructions only to the chief executive

    A governing board usually has only one employee (the chief executive). It should not instruct staff reporting to (or through to) the chief executive. They work for the chief executive, who is accountable for marshalling staff resources to meet the board’s expectations. When a board instructs other staff, it assumes some of the chief executive’s staff management responsibilities and prerogatives. This means the board cannot then hold the chief executive accountable if its directions to other staff are misinterpreted or misfire in some way.

    Unless board members understand the difference between instructing (which only the whole board can do) and advising (which anyone can do), even the chief executive can become confused.

    2.  The board should express its expectations and instructions only as a full board

    The board should always speak with one voice when instructing the chief executive, although the final decision on what the instruction is, like other board decisions, need not be unanimous.

    The one-voice principle, while readily agreed to, is often undermined. For example, in many organisations, the board chair is considered the ‘boss’ of the chief executive, disregarding the fact that the chief executive works for the board as a whole. This diminishes and detracts from the collective responsibility of the board.

    When a board struggles to speak with one voice—whether issuing instruction or advice—the chief executive is inevitably pulled in different directions.

    The possibility of weakened accountability and confusing communication significantly increases when these two principles are not clear and consistently applied.

    Giving advice

    If individual board members have no authority over the chief executive or staff and cannot instruct them, is giving them advice acceptable?

    Advice or counsel from a single member of the board is in order, as long as the recipient has no obligation to take the advice or even give it a hearing.

    Recipients of advice are implicitly accountable for what they do with that advice. The board should therefore be explicit that recipients may accept or reject advice from any source on its merits—including when it is offered by the board as a whole or by directors as individuals.

    This seems simple enough but dealing with advice from a board committee may be more problematic. This is, in part, because some board committees are explicitly set up to match specific operational (i.e. staff) functions and to monitor, advise and assist staff in relation to those functions (e.g. personnel, public relations, marketing, finance, etc.).

    It is difficult for staff to ignore advice from a formally established board committee even if the committee's function is only ‘advisory’. It is equally difficult for members of such a committee to remember that their deliberations are to produce advice and not to make decisions or give instructions.

    Committees established mainly to advise and ‘help’ staff actually compromise them. For example, staff members will likely be reluctant to tell such committees that their advice is unhelpful or that staff time taken up by the committee costs more than the committee’s advice is worth. Nor is it easy for staff to tell an advisory committee that they prefer advice from another, often better-qualified source. So, when the board sets up a committee to advise staff, staff have three basic options:

    • to assume committee suggestions are, in effect, instructions and that, when they do as suggested, the board is taking responsibility for the consequent outcome
    • to pretend that they value the committee's suggestions and are following them
    • to ‘manage’ the committee so that it ends up giving advice that suits what staff were inclined to do in the first place.

    For these reasons, a board should establish committees only to advise itself, not to help staff discharge their responsibilities.

    A lack of clarity of decision-making rights is at the core of many board/staff working relationship issues. It is up to the board to be clear which decisions it reserves to itself and which it delegates to the chief executive.

    For the latter, the chief executive (and thereby staff) should have total control over all processes for procuring and applying the advice they need, including from individual board members or the board as a whole. The chief executive and staff should be able to put together any advisory arrangements they wish. They should be able to retain or release advisors at their initiative. This level of authority ensures that the chief executive is always accountable to the board for performance no matter where she or her team obtains the advice they need.

    Following these principles means that board members must take their board ‘hat’ off when advising staff. This not only frees staff to treat board member advice on its merits but empowers board members to offer any advice they deem appropriate. They can do so without feeling that they are meddling in or compromising decisions that have been delegated to staff.

     Board Works Role of the board, Covid19

    Author: Graeme Nahkies Published: Apr 27, 2021

    Understanding and respecting the difference between advising and instructing » Boardworks

  • 07 May 2021 5:31 AM | Brett Jeffery, CAE (Administrator)

    Inspiring the Future is an exciting new programme where volunteers from the world of work show students the career possibilities available to them.

    Research shows that young people have narrow aspirations and are held back by stereotypes. Role models can help change that – and the programme needs people from all walks of life to be those role models.

    So come along to this online webinar 7.30pm Wednesday 12 May hosted by @Tertiary Education Commission chief executive @Tim Fowler. Hear all about Inspiring the Future, why it’s so important and how easy it is to be involved as a role model. []

  • 07 May 2021 5:19 AM | Brett Jeffery, CAE (Administrator)

    Getting members to renew is challenging every year—but this year in particular, associations need effective strategies for member retention. These articles have smart advice from association pros.

    Membership renewal is a perennial topic in the association space, but recently the conversation has felt more urgent because of the pandemic.

    This time last year, for example, some associations were considering waiving dues for new members. And while those short-term policies may have ended by now, the retention challenge always remains.

    Fortunately, the association world includes a lot of smart membership strategists. Read on for a few highlights from the Associations Now and ASAE archives highlighting the latest knowledge in member renewals.

    How to Craft Member Renewal Messaging Amid COVID-19 Crisis. Association consultants Scott Oser and David Patt, CAE, highlight the need for a strong value message during the pandemic. “You need to maintain people’s loyalty and their trust,” Patt says. “You don’t want people to say, ‘I really don’t need this.’ You have to come up with a way to make them still want you.”

    Get More Renewals With a UX Mindset. User experience research in the ‌Membership Renewal Guide produced by Marketing General Incorporated in 2019 includes recommendations for wording, payment options, and renewal cycles. “If you’re not already testing subject lines in renewal emails, start doing it now,” writes Associations Now former senior editor Tim Ebner.

    First-Year Renewal Issues? Tweak Your Onboarding Strategy. A survey from GrowthZone included a disturbing stat: Just 11 percent of survey respondents reported an increase in first-year member renewals. “It’s extremely important that new members understand the value you bring to their lives,” says Amy Gitchell, senior marketing communications specialist at GrowthZone. “In the survey, associations whose members recognized their value proposition reported higher renewal rates overall.”

    Three Ways to Boost Membership Renewal With Video. In a webinar earlier this year, Gather Voices CEO Michael Hoffman made the case for video as a tool for building engagement in a member community. “Engagement is about creating something new and letting members be the star of the show,” he says.

    3 Questions to Ask Before Adopting Auto-Renewal. Auto-renewals are all the rage outside associations—your phone carrier and power company probably convinced you to sign onto one at some point. But for associations, the equation is more complicated, wrote Rita Santelli, MBA, then CEO of The Savvy Org. “Auto-renewal, just like any other feature of membership, must be member-focused to succeed,” she noted. “It requires understanding your members’ needs and providing ongoing staff support to meet or exceed those needs.”

    Put Two-Year Renewals to Work for Your Members. Extending member renewals over a two-year period can save money for both members and associations, according to Patricia Qvern, operations manager at Quality Contact Solutions. “In my experience, after working with several associations that offer two-year membership as an option, typically, 10 percent to 30 percent of renewing members take advantage of the cost savings and convenience of a two-year membership,” she writes.

    ERNIE SMITH - Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun.

  • 07 May 2021 5:14 AM | Brett Jeffery, CAE (Administrator)

    Association leaders appreciate the importance of innovation and creativity - especially in light of the pandemic. Revenue loss has caused everyone to consider new business models. But actually fostering and implementing innovation during the crisis has proven to be a challenge for many. Here's a quick list of ten business models to inform and, perhaps, inspire new ideas:


    Revenue is generated by charging advertisers based on various criteria such as visibility, exposure, etc. Value must be created for two entities in this model - the advertiser and the consumer. Examples include ads in associations print and digital publications.


    Clickable links embedded in relevant content result in commissions paid for each purchase generated by the link. A good example of this is linking to a vendor in a blog post related to their specific product. 


    Brokerages connect sellers and buyers and ensure the transaction between the two runs smoothly. In exchange for this service, a fee is charged to either the seller, the buyer, or both. Investments and real estate are common examples of brokerage.


    Leveraging content contributed by a large number of people to sell directly or indirectly. Goods examples of crowdsourcing are traffic applications and online communities. 


    Revenue is generated by tailoring a product to a specific clientele. This is commonly seen in high-end products such as executive medicine or luxury travel. This may be a viable model for associations with niche audiences.


    Instead of selling a whole product to a single customer, a portion of the product is sold to multiple customers. Examples of fractionalization include timeshare properties and rent-a-CFO.  


    A basic level of a product or service is given for no cost, but fees are charged for enhanced features or access. Pandora and Dropbox are examples of companies using freemium effectively.  


    Content is rented out for use by other companies for a fee. Associations have commonly embraced this with member list rentals, but it can apply to other practices such as logo use. 


    Revenue is generated by buying a product or service then increasing the price before selling it to customers. Markup is a very common practice in the open market but maybe underutilized in associations. 


    A company produces a product and sells it to customers. Again, a common business model but one that may have new applications for associations. Do your members need a product that doesn't yet exist? Or do they need a higher quality product or better aligned than they currently have? 


     A target audience is allowed to use a product or service for a finite period of time in exchange for a fee. The subscription model may have applications well beyond membership and/or in subsections within the membership. 

    Ideation and iteration are important elements of creativity. What really stands out for you and your team when you review this list? Are there items that frustrate or inspire? Why not throw some ideas on the wall and see what's possible? 

    By Ms. Donna Oser, CAE
    Michigan Society of Association Executives
    12855 Oneida Woods Trl
    Grand Ledge, MI

  • 29 Apr 2021 6:51 AM | Brett Jeffery, CAE (Administrator)

    The Australasian Society of Association Executives (AuSAE) is calling for nominations from eligible members interested in serving as a Director of the Board. 

    There are currently three (3) positions available for appointment via general election which are a result of the end of tenure of the following Directors:

    Lyn McMorran - Chief Executive, Financial Services Federation NZ
    Peter Saffin - Chief Executive Officer Mathematical Association of Victoria
    Michelle Blicavs - Chief Executive Officer, Association of Consulting Surveyors NSW & National

    All three Directors are eligible to nominate for re-election.

    Members are invited to express their interest in appointment to these vacancies for a two-year term commencing in May 2021.

    Skills and attributes

    AuSAE directors play an active and visible leadership role in the association sector.

    All potential directors should be able to demonstrate a commitment to leadership, integrity, interpersonal and communication skills, a passion for Associations, business acumen, and an understanding of corporate governance.

    The board of AuSAE value and seek diversity as defined by gender, ethnicity, age, role, and level of experience and encourage applications from all types and sizes of eligible member organisations or individual members.


    The culture of AuSAE requires a working board, with a current focus on supporting organisational growth.  Directors should expect to contribute at least 4 hours a month in their role, in addition to attending 4 teleconferences (1.5 hrs) and 2 face to face meetings per year. 

    Directors may also be asked to attend and host AuSAE events, and events hosted by our valued alliance partners.

    Election and appointment process

    Appointment to the board will be determined by election from the membership.  Please note that the nominee must be a current financial member, in an eligible category of the association on application.

    To express an interest for the Board position you will need to provide: 

    All nominations must be received by 5pm Australian Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday 4 May 2021.

    Please click through for a copy of the AuSAE Constitution and By-Laws.


    Lyn McMorran

    Australasian Society of Association Executives

  • 29 Apr 2021 5:45 AM | Brett Jeffery, CAE (Administrator)

    The new normal is pushing associations to adapt and improve. Focusing on outcomes-based efficiencies, embracing transparency and value, and maximizing resources will help your organization succeed.

    The past year has been uniquely disruptive for many associations, forcing them to pivot their operations in real time. While the transition to remote work and digital engagement is the most obvious change, the sector has experienced upheaval on many fronts.

    According to one survey, nearly 60 percent of association leaders reported having to cancel or postpone events, along with reduced revenue and diminished user engagement. Meanwhile, associations play a pivotal role in helping organizations and employees navigate a post-pandemic landscape, providing essential connection, insight, and guidance at a critical time.

    Even as the impact of the recent pandemic eventually recedes, it is evident that many of the challenges associations experienced are unlikely to abate soon. This new normal requires associations to update their capacity and enhance their approach to efficiency, transparency, member contributions, and personnel management. In other words, the pandemic is pushing associations to adapt and improve. For associations looking to thrive in a post-pandemic environment, here are three ways to begin that process today.

    Focus on Outcomes-Based Efficiencies

    Professional associations have differentiated their revenue streams in the past several years. In the 1950s, membership dues comprised nearly 96 percent of total revenue. Today, that number is closer to 45 percent as associations have built better business models based on seminars, training, studies, and other resources. Unfortunately, these efforts were no match for an unprecedented global pandemic.

    While the implications of these assessments will look different for every association, realigning personnel resources with organizational goals and objectives is imperative.
    With conferences and seminars cancelled and companies preserving professional development resources, many associations are making difficult decisions about their budgets. To remain competitive, associations should focus on what matters most, reviewing the mission and developing new efficiencies based on these priorities.

    To be sure, calls for new efficiencies often mean reducing staff, services, or both. While associations will need to do more with less, better time and expense management practices can help curtail costs while maximizing resources for what matters most by focusing on:
    • Spending. Everything from organizational drift to spending on services not provided can negatively impact associations’ financial outlook. Analyzing spending allows leaders to align financial resources and operational objectives.
    • Personnel allocation. Time tracking and personnel allocation can produce critical insights into human capital allocation, ensuring that they are devoted to the most critical tasks.
    • Resource management. Associations exist for a particular purpose. Time and expense management help leaders align resources and purpose.

    In other words, efficiency doesn’t have to diminish organizational capacity. Instead, it can be an opportunity to realign resources and outcomes, allowing associations to best perform during the pandemic and after it passes.

    Embrace Transparency and Demonstrate Value

    When companies and professionals have limited resources allocated for association fees, they need to know that they are spending their money wisely. Professional associations can keep people invested by renewing their emphasis on transparency to demonstrate value at every level.

    In the nonprofit space, which serves as a valuable litmus test for professional associations, 70 percent of contributors demand insights into an organization’s overhead costs before committing financial resources. In this way, professional associations can cater to these demands by updating their governance and oversight efforts through enhanced time and expense practices. In return, associations can clearly convey financial resource allocation, fiscal year overhead projections, staff and volunteer pay and equity, and proficiency and professionalism in financial literacy and stewardship.

    Fiscal and operational transparency demonstrate value, positioning associations to retain members in an uncertain season.

    Maximize Personnel Resources

    In many ways, this is a reflective moment. It’s an opportunity for associations to review their products, processes, and personnel, while optimizing for a future that undoubtedly looks different than the past.

    While the implications of these assessments will look different for every association, realigning personnel resources with organizational goals and objectives is imperative. It’s also impossible to achieve without the right insights. That’s why leaders will evaluate expense records, time and resource allocations, and other metrics to make data-driven decisions about the future. In doing so, associations can make sure that they are best meeting their goals and objectives.

    As industries change and workers adjust to new norms, professional associations will play a crucial role in helping both navigate this disruptive and challenging time. Of course, they need to take care of their own affairs too, adapting and improving to meet the moment. By measuring their outcomes, demonstrating value, and maximizing personnel resources, associations can best support their constituents, allowing more people to thrive in the months and years ahead.

    Alan Tyson

    Alan Tyson is CEO of DATABASICS in Reston, Virginia.

  • 29 Apr 2021 5:43 AM | Brett Jeffery, CAE (Administrator)

    Hybrid conferences may be the next big thing in meetings, but because they involve face-to-face and virtual participants, they come with their own unique set of planning challenges. As associations begin executing hybrid events, here are some questions to ask during the planning stage.

    Associations and attendees alike are eager for the return of large, in-person events, and with vaccination numbers continuing to rise, that may be on the horizon soon enough.

    But even with this renewed optimism, many groups are planning hybrid conferences in the near term. Planning a conference that includes both in-person and virtual components is no easy feat and requires meeting professionals to consider additional logistics and possibly new technology solutions. Before you get too far into the weeds, here are three questions to answer during the early stages of planning.


    Association meeting pros have long known exactly who they need on their team to execute a flawless in-person event, and the pandemic has taught them how to do the same for virtual conferences. But hybrid meetings will require even more staffing adjustments to make sure attendees have a worthwhile experience, whether they join online or in person.

    In a blog post this month, Bizzabo outlined several key roles to consider making part of your hybrid events team. For example, on the virtual side, they suggest an event technologist to help select the right technology for the event and get the most out of your technology stack, and an executive producer to keep the virtual aspect of your event running smoothly. As for your in-person event team, Bizzabo recommends an onsite technician to make sure microphones and internet connections are working and even a speaking coach who can help your presenters communicate effectively to both audiences.


    According to MeetingPlay, organizations should market a hybrid event using the same channels they would use to promote live events. This includes social media, content marketing, email marketing, paid advertising, and so forth.

    However, marketers will need to plan differently when it comes to timing. For example, registration numbers for virtual conferences typically increase dramatically the week before and even past the event’s start date. This is a different trend than what planners typically see with in-person events. To maximize their online audience for a hybrid meeting, associations should consider increasing their marketing efforts the week before the event kicks off.


    This is a true challenge of hybrid events. After all, it’s easy to see how in-person attendees would wind up chatting with each other during a break between sessions, while virtual attendees might step away from their screens.

    Some ways that organizers have overcome this challenge: putting a screen onstage to allow remote attendees to take part in a presentation and ask questions, hiring a virtual emcee to who collects questions and comments from the remote audience, and handing out tablets to in-person attendees to allow them to have one-on-one chats with virtual participants.

    And, if these connections between audiences can’t be made during the live event, consider using the digital platform as a place for all attendees to connect post-conference. For instance, Michelle Hopewell, regional marketing director at the Duke Energy Convention Center, offered these suggestions to the Northstar Meetings Group blog: “Keep session chats open following the event to create a community resource center and continued networking opportunities,” she said. “[Allow attendees to] trade virtual business cards, and encourage guests to share and create connections based on the virtual meeting.”


    Samantha Whitehorne is editorial director of Associations Now

  • 29 Apr 2021 5:39 AM | Brett Jeffery, CAE (Administrator)

    When seeking media coverage for your association, three areas can help you hit a home run. By focusing on smaller markets, creating authentic content, and using social media well, you can maximize the impact of your association’s message.

    Association members and leaders face so much information today that the old analogy of drinking from a firehose doesn’t seem adequate. The audience you’re trying to reach right now is trying to fill a glass from several firehoses, all spraying at once from different directions. It’s too much to process, so people look for filters to help them decide what is important—and what can be ignored.

    This is where it pays to have a thoughtful, sophisticated earned media strategy. With earned media, you are more likely to get through your audience’s filters. Media coverage gives you third-party credibility from someone who isn’t paid by your organization and who believes enough in your cause, products, or insights to mention, quote, or promote your association’s content.

    Make a Big Splash in a Smaller Market

    When your association launches an earned media program, you often think about going big: front-page stories in major newspapers, features on the evening news, or your spokesperson doling out wisdom as a talking head on cable networks.

    Don’t get distracted by that image, though. There are more than 220 news outlets in Washington, DC, and New York City alone. That doesn’t even count satellite or terrestrial radio or magazines. That’s the media landscape you’ll have to penetrate to score those big hits. It seems daunting—but not as daunting as it must be for your target audience trying to find you in all that noise. How do you cut through it all?

    You work hard on your earned media program, so don’t let it become a “one-and-done event.”

    Stop trying to do what everyone else is trying to do. Start delivering your earned media where it has a chance to be noticed by the audiences you care most about. State and local outlets are often starved for content and much more likely to have the bandwidth to cover your issue if it has a local angle. By recruiting in-state voices (e.g., spokespeople, op-ed signers, or interviewees), you further illustrate the importance of your issues to the audiences who can sway national elected officials and policymakers.

    Create Authentic, Compelling Content

    Identify and recruit authentic people to deliver your best messages. Recruit doctors, nurses, teachers, firefighters, small business owners, or other prominent local leaders in the markets you care about to write or appear on broadcast in their authentic voice about the issues that matter to them.
    Whether it’s an op-ed, letter to the editor, or an explainer video, create content that is fresh, interesting, and relevant to the outlet you’re pitching. Remember that editors (and publishers) want to put out content that people will click on, read, and share. If your piece is too arcane, too wonky, or too long, it simply won’t get published.

    Be Social

    You work hard on your earned media program, so don’t let it become a “one-and-done event.” Today's consumers are influenced greatly by family, friends, and what they read and see online. People no longer share the good, the bad, and the ugly of issues just at the water cooler—they share it with everyone they’re connected with online.

    According to HubSpot Research, 57 percent of people in the U.S. trust what they hear from friends and family the most when they discover a new product. About one-third of U.S. buyers prefer information they can find from a Google search.

    Share the earned media content on as many social media and digital platforms as possible. That includes both your organization’s channels and those of the third-party allies you recruit. Remember, these allies are third-party validators, too. And don’t overlook email.

    Sharing content isn’t just about making sure people see your story. It’s about helping those who cover it see its value, too. Editors and publishers want people coming to their site and internet traffic spikes on your stories will show them people are interested and encourage them to cover more of your content.

    John Dunagan

    John Dunagan is founder and president of Highland Advocacy Group in Washington, DC.

  • 29 Apr 2021 5:33 AM | Brett Jeffery, CAE (Administrator)

    The event industry has the opportunity and the responsibility to play a game-changing role in reducing carbon emissions. However, it cannot do so by returning to the profoundly unsustainable industry of the past; to succeed, it must change what it stands for.

    An Inconvenient Truth

    In this video, Global Head of Sustainable Investing for BlackRock Alternatives Teresa O’Flynn paints a clear picture of just how much change is needed. According to data from Breakthrough Energy, in 2020, the world cut its carbon emissions by 2 billion tons, narrowly beating the annual reduction target of 1.7 billion tons. The challenge before us is to keep reducing by 2 billion tons each year until 2050, now hopefully without a pandemic-enforced disruption to travel and face-to-face meetings, just to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

    The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) takes place in November. This event of global importance presents the industry with the unique opportunity to achieve two crucial things that it simply cannot afford to delay.

    1. Establishing a carbon target and reduction framework for the event industry.

    2. Ensuring events are recognized as a critical way to advance the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs).

    As of April 2021, there is little evidence to suggest that the event industry is responding to climate change as more than an inconvenient truth. With time running out, is this something we simply accept?

    Why Is the Event Industry Not Taking a Lead Role?

    A lack of motivation to act on climate change exists everywhere, also in the event industry. A 2018 Harvard Business Review article summarises these factors as:

    1. Acting on climate change represents a trade-off between short-term and long-term benefits.

    2. Climate change is a nonlinear problem.

    3. Many effects of climate change are distant from most people.

    4. The future is always more uncertain than the present.

    In addition, there are a few inconvenient truths to be faced here as we look for evidence of these factors in the event industry.

    • The business model for events does not focus on long-term benefits, only short term profits.
    • We speak more about the financial gains of those hosting events than how events impact inclusion and collaboration.
    • The event industry’s leadership cannot fully comprehend what climate change is or is too focused on financial survival to consider its legacy.


    Build Back, But Better

    These inconvenient truths have become painfully clear to me over the more than 15 years that I have led a not-for-profit that educated and collaborated with event stakeholders to create a sustainable event industry. During that time, I’ve been able to ‘look behind the curtain,’ and what I found is that the industry simply is not willing to take immediate or impactful action. The industry’s negative impact is too much to deal with, and the potential positive effects it can have are too abstract. It’s never a priority (pre, during, or post covid)


    Could the Event Industry’s Days Be Numbered?

    Should we simply assume that the event industry has a limited lifespan and will be deemed a non-essential carbon-creating activity in the not too distant future?

    Perhaps we believe that repeating a favorite mantra that “people will always want to meet” will somehow override the scientific facts.

    The event industry has been talking about sustainability for years, yet it has not taken the actions required to make it part of the solution. Here’s the thing. It doesn’t have to be like this. The event industry can and should be part of the solution, but it’s not — at least not yet.

    There is an opportunity for this to be a wake-up call for immediate action, which results in a new narrative that positions events as part of the solution to the world working for everyone and not part of the carbon-creating problem.


    What Can We Do About It?

    Over the past 12 months, I’ve been on a mission through the non-profit Positive Impact to upskill 100,000 event professionals on sustainability through a global community of 1,400+ sustainability ambassadors. Our funding comes from everywhere and nowhere, but our mission remains the same: to create a sustainable event industry.

    The opportunity for action lies in the hands of every event professional — and that includes you, the reader.

    Ten years ago, that may have sounded overwhelming. Today, as the younger generations make the expectations for action on climate change clear, you may be inspired to realize that action in the event industry depends on you, and there is an immediate opportunity for your actions.

    1. Support fundraising for stakeholder engagement so that the event industry can collaborate with the United Nations to understand its carbon impact.

    2. Take part in the stakeholder engagement facilitated by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to give your input on what a carbon target for the event industry could be. For example, should we be aligned with corporate commitments like net-zero by 2050?

    3. Take actions to reduce your event carbon footprint in line with the Climate Action Framework facilitated by UNFCCC through actions such as choosing vegetarian meals, implementing ISO 20121, or simply sourcing items locally.

    4. Proudly tell your clients, suppliers, peers, and your communities (especially future generations) that you are taking action in line with science-based targets supported by the UN body for Climate Change in a way that the world’s governments and businesses will understand.

    The time has passed for the distractions of talking on panels about sustainability or taking time to do an education certificate. Now is the time to take practical action to raise funds, give input, and use materials that will position the event industry as part of a United Nations-level conversation. This is the only way the event industry can be recognized as a vital part of a world where we act to address climate change and its inequalities.



    Although current evidence suggests that the event industry is treating climate change as an inconvenient truth, opportunities for immediate action are in place. No other leaders are coming to address this; only your actions, which together add up to our collective efforts, will decide the future of the event industry.


  • 16 Apr 2021 4:55 AM | Brett Jeffery, CAE (Administrator)

    Ethics touches almost every aspect of association management. This sampling of articles from our archives can help you cultivate a more ethical organisation.

    How do we know associations care about ethics?

    If you’re thinking you could use an ethics refresh, this list of Associations Now editors’ picks is a good place to start:

    How to Update Your Code of Ethics for Today’s Members. Mariama S. Boney, CAE, CEO of Achieve More LLC, offers advice for continually updating association ethics codes to match current needs. “We should articulate our core values and ensure that the ethics code highlights our core values that need to be translated through the policies and procedures, and review the ethics code every one to two years,” Boney says.

    A Reckoning With Ethics and Injustice. Part of our recent Lead2021 package, this piece highlights the ethical challenges that arose in 2020, including issues related to both COVID-19  and racial equity. “The pandemic has thrown everyone for a loop,” says MaryAnne Bobrow, CAE, a longtime association consultant on ethics and management. “And people like to take shortcuts.”

    Make Ethics Support a Member Benefit. The Institute of Management Accountants bakes ethics into its member support programs and services, including by offering free credits for ethics-related educational courses. IMA also has an ethics helpline, operated by the association’s committee on ethics, that provides guidance to members and other professionals.

    Three Ethics Resources Every Association Should Provide Its Members. Offering more insight on IMA’s programs, Raef Lawson, CAE, the association’s vice president for research and policy and professor-in-residence, urges associations to devote time, money, and resources to ethical issues. “Given that employers and educational institutions currently do not provide adequate ethics resources, associations have an opportunity and responsibility to develop professions that prioritize ethical behavior,” he writes.

    How to Make Ethics Training Stick. Associations Now leadership blogger Mark Athitakis highlights research from the Ethics & Compliance Initiative that finds that ethics training in organisations often doesn’t translate to applications in the real world. One thing that makes a difference? The direct involvement of organizational leaders.

The Australasian Society of Association Executives (AuSAE)

Australian Office:
Address: Unit 6, 26 Navigator Place, Hendra QLD 4011 Australia
Free Call: +61 1300 764 576
Phone: +61 7 3268 7955

New Zealand Office:
Address: 159 Otonga Rd, Rotorua 3015 New Zealand
Phone: +64 27 249 8677

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