Sector and AuSAE News

  • 05 May 2020 1:38 PM | Abby Fields (Administrator)

    Find out how ASI transformed their in-person program to 100% virtual in less than 2 weeks while retaining the magic of their annual conference experience.

    Starting with iMIS — the #1 rated association and membership software, coupled with the iMIS Mobile app and the right partners — ASI knew they had all the necessary technology to deliver the high-quality conference program that their community expected and deserved.

    ASI's Virtual Event Playbook shares the lessons they learned along the way to achieving their most cost-effective and best-attended conference ever.

    See how they:

    • Determined costs and converted content
    • Engaged attendees before, during & after via mobile
    • Injected a human element into the program
    • Increased attendance by 81% over in-person rates

    To download your copy of ASI's Virtual Event Playbook,click here

  • 05 May 2020 6:30 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    Technology is our silent partner in the challenging job of keeping the economy moving during COVID-19. This health crisis has taught us that the more we make the digital world our world, the better equipped we will be to manage both business and life in the face of disruption.

    Associations who were early adopters of digital strategies made the transition to a remote workplace with minimal distraction. For others, the abrupt technological, administrative and cultural shift has been destabilizing. I have heard about challenges ranging from lack of equipment to the complete inability to accommodate virtual business. 

    If your organization was, or is, struggling now is the time to explore what must happen so that when you need to pivot (and that day will come again), you are prepared to manage the change. I learned a lot about resilience from the leaders we interviewed in our recent Association 4.0 Books: Positioning for Success in an Era of Disruption and An Entrepreneurial Approach to Risk, Courage and Transformation.

    Something that struck a chord with me is that success in the digital marketplace, or any highly disruptive environment, depends more on attitude than expertise. My interest in technology didn’t spring from being a math or science geek, far from it. I was determined to learn everything I could about the digital experience because I saw it as a gateway to accomplishing things that I had never imagined before. Curiosity and eagerness to adopt, adapt and implement the tools science and technology give us characterized the leaders we interviewed. (To learn more about digital leadership watch my recent webinar.) 

    Most CEOs want their organizations to be digitally literate. Yet, even when you can identify the issues that are holding you hostage to ingrained habits and inadequate tools, breaking those barriers can be difficult. I offer these recommendations from my own experience helping clients to build a culture that uses technology to position their organizations for success.

    Eliminate Barriers to a Digital Culture

    Empower Everyone

    Let technology out of IT’s ivory tower. The CEO leads the charge to ensure that every employee understands their role in creating a digital impact by tasking:

    Human resources to explore how to create a successful virtual workforce

    Education to develop an outstanding online learning platform

    Marketing to create the optimal digital experience and harness data as a competitive advantage

    Finance to provide analysis to manage and forecast budgets efficiently

    Start Today

    Don’t wait for the ideal conditions. If you shoot for the perfect timing or experience, you may never launch. The price of inaction is inability. Adopt the concept of the minimum viable product. Run with the best version you can produce given current resources and be willing to adjust and improve along the way. 

    Promote Innovation

    Yes, digital tools allow you to be efficient.  But if you only see technology as a workhorse you may miss the opportunity to use it as a unicorn, or the catalyst for creating a culture that values innovation. Give your employees room to experiment. Reward effort, anticipate failure and encourage iteration.

    Associations throughout our community are using technology to develop creative opportunities for member engagement and to advance their missions. These are some recent examples:

    The Emergency Nurses Association is inviting members to participate in a virtual Kudo Board to show their appreciation for frontline healthcare professionals.   

    The National Restaurant Association Education Foundation created an employee relief fund to support workers by partnering with Guy Fieri, the Food Network and other prominent food purveyors. Online donations make this possible.

    At .orgCommunity, we’ve launched In Lieu of Lunch using Zoom to create an opportunity for members to share stories and exchange information.

    Build the Right Team

    Smart leaders are savvy recruiters. To create a thriving digital culture, you’ll need champions to fill these three critical roles. 

    The strategist/s keep you ahead of the game. Strategists are curious people who want to see around the corner. They explore emerging technologies and imagine how you might incorporate what is cutting-edge into your operations.

    The innovator/s say no to tradition for its own sake and yes to invention for continual quality improvement. They seek to maximize your current digital capabilities by looking for opportunities to work better, faster and cheaper and to find new needs to fill.                                 

    The driver/s bring others along on the journey. Drivers are the trusted collaborators who can stoke enthusiasm and inspire commitment.

    Aim for a Digitized Future

    Coronavirus is a hard lesson in the value of a digitized, as opposed to digital, approach to business (see below if you are uncertain about the difference between these terms.)

    Digital is the process of converting an analog procedure to a digital form without any different-in-kind changes to the activity itself.

    Digitized uses digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities.

    These are strategies that can help move you toward a digitized future:

    Scenario planning is a methodology that allows you to develop short, mid, and long-range strategies with flexibility baked into the design. It can also help gain traction in a crisis. Sharon Rice, .orgSource’s Managing Director, Business Strategy, explains it like this: “Scenario planning fills you with information and an understanding of the possibilities. It gives you some control when the external environment is rapidly changing and people are looking to you for leadership.” (Watch Sharon’s webinar on scenario planning. Read my blog post on the same  topic.)

     Leveraging data to monitor early signs of change. Now more than ever, it’s important to understand how your customers want to communicate. A colleague of mine who was tracking member engagement saw low open rates on important crisis-related information. Realizing members were being bombarded with content, the association quickly switched to a new strategy. They began sending an email every day at 3:00 p.m. with three important messages and saw both open rates and engagement increase. Simple pivots make a difference, but they can’t happen unless you’re watching the data.

     Experiment and explore the creativity that surrounds you. Let big and small ideas take you outside your comfort zone. Investigate putting a chatbot on your website or expanding your video capabilities. Empower your employees to innovate and co-create. My daughter’s soccer team has developed a whole roster of online activities to stay engaged until they can be back in the game together.  

    There is one good thing I can say about COVID-19. It has obliterated the status quo. We are on notice that complacency is a recipe for failure. The digital marketplace demands that you let go of the past, challenge current assumptions and lead with what’s next. It’s not an easy proposition. But when you integrate technology into your leadership style and your culture, you have a powerful silent partner to keep you flying ahead of disruption.    

    As a leader in digital transformation, .orgSource can put you on the path to a digitized association. Get started today. 

     By Sherry Budziak

  • 29 Apr 2020 6:03 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    Recently, I had the opportunity to work with a client on reviewing/redesigning her organization’s onboarding process.

    Making some changes was something that she had been thinking about for a while, but when COVID-19 forced organizations to completely and instantaneously shift from in-person member experiences to online member experiences, a new sense of urgency arose about the issue.

    I thought it might be helpful to others if I described the process that this client and I went through, as we worked to create an onboarding process that would be maximally effective.

    Essentially, there were 3 pieces:

    We made a COMPLETE list of everything that currently happens as soon as a member signs up – every message that is sent, every invitation that requires a response, every system that a member would need to access, every page that a member would need to access, etc.

    We identified EXACTLY which actions we’d want a new member to do in order to get quick value out of the membership, aiming for just a few VERY CLEAR steps that we could present in a checklist-style.

    We constructed an onboarding path that emphasized the steps we had identified (first do this… then do this… then do this… etc.). We designed those steps into a beautifully branded, printable one-pager and are working now on integrating the steps into the "Welcome Email" and a "Start Here" page for the website.

    Our aim with onboarding is to immediately VALIDATE that the new member made exactly the right choice to join and help them immediately understand how to take advantage of the membership benefits.

    In their quest to do this, many organizations provide too much information all at once. Instead, I encourage my clients to think about onboarding in a more strategic manner. Out of EVERYTHING that new members could possibly do, what are the most important first steps?  And how can we make sure that those critical first steps are completed 100% of the time?

    When was the last time that you looked at what happens when new members come on board?  If it has been a while, or if things have changed dramatically due to your team working at home, or due to the shift from live interaction to online interaction, it may be well worth investing a little time into this specific area of member experience.

    What is your current on-boarding process? Do members seem to value the steps they take upon joining your organization?

    Joy Duling, Founder/CEO, The Joy of Membership 22 April 2020

  • 28 Apr 2020 3:31 PM | Kerrie Green (Administrator)

    Zoom recently implemented an important update to help make your meetings more private and secure. The most visible change that meeting hosts will see is an option in the Zoom meeting controls called SecurityThis new icon simplifies how hosts can quickly find and enable many of Zoom’s in-meeting security features.

    Visible only to hosts and co-hosts of Zoom Meetings, the Security icon provides easy access to several existing Zoom security features so you can more easily protect your meetings.

    By clicking the Security icon, hosts and co-hosts have an all-in-one place to quickly:

    To read more from this article by Zoom please click here

  • 21 Apr 2020 3:39 PM | Kerrie Green (Administrator)

    Every Friday, AuSAE hosts a weekly catch up with our members to touch base “in person” with their association peers. 

    During last Friday’s Member Meeting we discussed membership renewals and what strategies associations are implementing as they approach their renewal process. 

    The below is a quick summary of the discussions that we had online: 

    • The importance of having individual discussions where possible with members. A few attendees in Friday’s meeting shared their surprise that although their members are in incredibly tough positions at the moment, they see the value in their association membership now more than ever so still happy to renew.
    • An echoed voice in the chat room that Associations have never been needed more. And the importance of communicating that value with members and updating them on new initiatives and your advocacy efforts during this period.
    • We heard from a few members on the changes/modelling they have looked at in regards to membership renewals and what they are looking to implement:
    1. Extending membership period – 3 months, 6 months
    2. Membership discount
    3. Deferring 100% of membership fees by a quarter period, invoice will still go out at the scheduled time in May however members can choose to pay the invoice in September
    4. Offering 3-month membership packages attached with a strong value proposition as we move through this period
    5. Shift to subscription membership, paying per month
    6. For associations that offer insurance, a member shared that they are deferring payment of insurance until 1 October.
    7. Offering Financial Hardship Packages to members on a case by case analysis
    • We also briefly discussed non-member acquisition campaigns during this period – a few associations are offering their COVID-19 resources and information to members and non-members. There is also an option to create a digital membership/subscription for access to online learning during this time. We also discussed the option to open up your base level of membership complimentary for a period of time to give the sector a look into your membership offering.

  • 21 Apr 2020 7:43 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    When the coronavirus forced many associations to cancel major conferences, they lost a significant amount of sponsorship revenue. While there is no downplaying the bad, a few simple strategies can help your association find a silver lining.

    The impact of COVID-19 on association conference sponsorships can be deemed a nightmare: Revenue goals are shattered, and opportunities for sponsors to engage with members are scotched. Even conferences scheduled for later this year are under a cloud of uncertainty.

    As bad as that reality is, the pandemic also presents an opportunity to modify the traditional conference sponsorship model in a way that increases revenue and member value. Here are some ways to leverage the circumstances of COVID-19 to enhance your association’s relationship with conference sponsors, while still keeping their goals—as well as your organization’s members and mission—in mind.

    Expand Your COVID-19 Member Resource Center
    Many members have a new and growing set of needs based on the impact of the coronavirus on their profession, industry, or organization. These needs range from products to services to new short- and long-term strategies for getting back to business as usual or adapting to the new normal.

    For example, we are working with an association representing nurses to transition one of their conference sponsors into a year-long partner. The first collaboration is a set of materials that will help nurses on the frontlines in hospitals cope with the challenges of the coronavirus. The association will expand to a series of other resources in the coming year.

    Position Companies As Helping Members in a Time of Need 
    This is a terrific time for brands to step up to the plate, to develop their authenticity, and to deepen that loyalty,” said Bob Liodice, CEO of the Association of National Advertisers, in March. “Not by trying to push product out the door, but by being authentic and in their desire to be able to help their consumers directly.”

    Instead of refunding conference sponsorship fees or transferring this year’s sponsorship to next year’s conference, associations can benefit by finding new ways to position companies as supporting your association and its members. For example, sponsors could provide information to help members with challenges identified in recent member surveys, issues related to changes in the marketplace, or new pain points as a result of the coronavirus.

    Help Sponsors Achieve Their Business Goals
    As conferences and advertising opportunities diminished in recent weeks, some companies identified an urgent need to build their pipeline of leads among your association’s members. Companies need to reach out to members soon to meet their sales goals in the coming three to 12 months.
    Understandably, some companies are seriously compromised due to the impact of the coronavirus. However, many companies recognize the need to be front-and-center with your association’s members. Some sponsors might even increase their sponsorship investment to achieve their business goals. Fulfilling a sponsor’s goals related to thought leadership, accessing a particular segment of the association’s membership, or differentiating itself from its competition could be of significant value to the sponsor.

    Move Beyond Conference Sponsorship
    Your association’s members and sponsors have needs year-round. A conference sponsorship is an episode; a year-round sponsorship is a strategy that can add significant value for your members, your sponsors, and your association.

    If your association’s conference (or conferences) has been cancelled, rescheduled, down-sized, or converted to virtual, identify the many ways to provide your conference sponsors with “replacement value” throughout this year. The advantage to your association is retaining sponsor fees, while the benefit to your sponsors is the opportunity to achieve their business goals.
    For each of your association’s top-tier conference sponsors, consider “replacement value” in terms of dissemination of thought leadership content, webinars, social media campaigns, outreach to a specific demographic of your members, promotion of each company’s webinars or seminars, and so forth.

    Continue to focus on your association’s mission, your members’ needs, and your sponsors’ goals to maintain sponsorship relationships and revenue this year and to position sponsorship relationships for the coming years.

    April 14, 2020 By: Bruce Rosenthal and Dan Kowitz

    Bruce Rosenthal

    Bruce Rosenthal is co-convener of the Partnership Professionals Network and president of Bruce Rosenthal Associates in Washington, DC.

    Dan Kowitz

    Dan Kowitz is co-convener of the Partnership Professionals Network and founder and CEO of JSB Partnership Consultants in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

  • 17 Apr 2020 1:32 PM | Kerrie Green (Administrator)

    AuSAE Member Update from CEO, Toni Brearley 

    I hope you enjoyed your Easter long weekend and are continuing to keep well and safe.

    A slightly late update this week, but still focused on information and resources to assist you to navigate your association and your members during this time.

    JobKeeper Payments

    The ATO have released comprehensive information regarding the administration of the JobKeeper payment this week. What you need to know:

    • Eligibility requirements that have previously been communicated remain the same, however there is further explanation how a reduction in turnover can be evidenced including the provision for the Taxation Commissioner to extend an ‘alternative test’ if your organisation falls outside the standard “turnover tests”
    • Applications open on April 20 via the ATO website
    • Prior to submitting an application, you are required to have all eligible employees complete and sign a JobKeeper employee nomination process which can be found on the ATO website
    • Employers wanting JobKeeper payments to start from the fortnight commencing 30 March must apply by April 26.
    • Continue to pay at least $1500 to each eligible employee per JobKeeper fortnight (the first fortnight being 30 March – 12 April).
    • The first payments are due to be released in the first week of May.

    I encourage you to visit the ATO website for the full and current details of how to apply and access these important payments.  

    AuSAE member the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) have developed a Job Keeper Payment Employer Guide to assist.  Our thanks to ACCI for their continued advocacy for small business and their support of the Association sector.

    New Resources

    AuSAE Legal partner Mills Oakley have provided a comprehensive summary of all stimulus and regulatory supports available for business, including not-for-profits which can be found here

    Beyond Blue have a dedicated national mental health support service related to the coronavirus outbreak. The new service will offer free information, counselling, and referrals online and via phone.  Access to resources and support services can be found here 

    AuSAE Activities

    AuSAE Webinar Series – Strengthening Associations - We have been overwhelmed with the participation in our new webinar series and are pleased to provide you with practical and timely information to help you navigate these uncertain times.

    This week we hosted a bumper session focusing on Association communication strategy with thanks to Felicity Zadro and Debbie Bradley from Zadro Agency for their insights and advice.

    Next week (April 22) we are focusing on technology and looking at how Associations are using mobile platforms to keep communities intact and informed. To register for this session, click here

    The Strengthening Associations webinar series is complimentary for AuSAE members and we will soon be releasing information on how you can access all AuSAE webinar recordings through your AuSAE member login. To find out more about the series and upcoming topics please click here.

    AuSAE Book Club – We were excited to launch our AuSAE book club this week as a unique way to continue learning and staying connected during the next few months.  Our first book to kick off the series is “The Forever Transaction” by Robbie Kellman Baxter and we will host a live Q&A with Robbie on Friday 1 May. To register your interest and purchase your book click through to our Book Club page.

    Thank you so much for your time again this week as we strive to support you and your association now and into the future.

    Please reach out to myself or any of the team if we can be of assistance in any way.

    Warm regards

    Toni Brearley
    Chief Executive Officer
    Australasian Society of Association Executives

    T    +61 1300 764 576  M +61 458 000 155
    A    Unit 6, 26 Navigator Place, Hendra Q 4011
    E   W
    Follow AuSAE on Twitter  Follow AuSAE on LinkedIn  F Follow AuSAE on Facebook

  • 15 Apr 2020 7:22 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    With the trajectory of the current COVID-19 pandemic taking us into uncharted territory, there’s never been a better time for associations to rethink the way they operate and deliver (more) value to their members. As the first part of a special series where the members of Boardroom Advisory Board share their challenges and insights in light of a surreal situation, we’re looking today at how they deal with member expectations, requests and what they do to help them navigate this unknown environment.

    Words Remi Deve

    Challenges facing associations are vast and oftentimes unlike that of a typical business. They also can vary depending on the type of organization, whether a professional society or a trade association for instance. With Boardroom Advisory Board members representing different industries, it doesn’t come as a surprise their experiences sometimes differ in reaction to the crisis that affects us all. But, at the same time, they recognize they are all being very reactive delivering value to their members, and even providing them with new services or products.

    New resources

    “As an academic association, our members are dealing with the suspension of academic years and figuring out how to continue research while also being full-time parents and teachers,” says Jennifer Fontanella, Director of Operations and Finance of ISA, the International Studies Association“We have begun collaborating with other associations to provide virtual networking opportunities that we lost from the convention as well as provide resources to our members from recouping financial losses from cancelled travel to data for the many academic papers that will be written about the global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

    Likewise, the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) has been very active in this arena, as Matthew R. D’Uva, CEO explains. “We completed a comprehensive clinical insights paper and have been offering clinical webinars weekly to outline COVID-19 procedures for our members, and have made a commitment to update the document on a regular basis along with weekly webinars through the pandemic. Additionally, we have issued a number of policy statements as part of a coalition of Gastroenterology Societies. Our scientific journals have also issued a fast track call for manuscripts related to COVID-19 to allow us to get the science about the disease out to the community. Finally, AASLD has also created a resource page to catalogue and communicate both AASLD and partner resources in real time,” he says.

    At the International Association of Public Transport (UITP), according to Mohamed Mezghani, Secretary General, many actions were launched, all designed to support their members and to advocate for the sector. Guidelines with specific recommendations on how to deal with coronavirus in public transport, a closed LinkedIn Group for networking and best practice exchange, webinars, an Open Letter to the EU Institutions to advocate for support for the sector, launch of a social media campaign on social media… all this was done in reaction to a situation that nobody could have foreseen.

    With such initiatives, every member of Boardroom Advisory Board, starting with Silke Schlinnertz, Head of Growth at Euroheat & Power, is happy to report that, at this stage, no one has seen a decrease in membership yet, though as, Mohamed Mezghani, Secretary General of UITP, points out this is also due to ‘great’ timing – for lack of a better word. “As of today, we have already invoiced 90% of the membership fees of the year (according to our annual target) and 50% of the invoiced amount has been paid,” he says. “This is a little lower than the previous year, but the difference is not very significant. Nevertheless, we see a slowdown of payments more from the private supplying industry than from the public transport companies.”

    D’Uva notes, however, that AASLD’s annual dues billing system runs from July through June 30, so they will know soon if membership has been affected. “With our members out working in the community and engaging with the society, this is not our immediate concern,” he says. “Our members are actively working right now. Our Annual Conference is planned for November so we will be watching the effects of conference registration on our membership numbers. We are a bit concerned about our members ability to pay, but we are perhaps more concerned about our members have the time and capacity to actually submit their dues renewal with so much happening for them professionally.”

    Consolidating the value proposition

    Of course, there is a general concern in associations across industries about the effects of a possible recession which might follow the current outbreak. Associations need to be vigilant and, more than ever, prove their value to their members. “Critical situations are exactly when associations and networks are most needed: this is when we can go beyond the threat and create new opportunities to consolidate the association’s value proposition,” reflects Giuseppe Marletta, Managing Director Europe of ACC , the Association of Corporate Counsel and President of the European Society of Associations Executives (ESAE).

    “Unlike associations with an individual membership base we as a trade association feel less the impact of the crisis at the moment,” explains Schlinnertz, Euroheat & Power. “Individuals need perhaps more immediate help, whereas trade members are coping with the situation. That being said, we are reaching out to each and every member to see how they are doing, and this is possible as we have a little over 100 members. A lot of phone calls are being made to ensure we stay connected.” So, the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t changed anything per se, though reviewing meeting strategies and offering more online content to substitute for cancelled in person meetings will be obviously in order at some point.

    In this context, the digitalization of associations will happen sooner than later, and opportunities for digital conferences are being explored. “ISA had historically been slow to provide virtual attendance during our conventions, primarily as an excuse to keep registration rates extremely low,” explains Fontanella. “The risk of having to cancel another annual convention is a great opportunity for us to offer more virtual opportunities into our program. As we are just beginning to plan our 2021 program, we are having daily discussions regarding the different areas that would lend to virtual engagement throughout the year. ISA was forced to cancel not only our annual convention, but two summer international conferences, in South Korea and Morocco, and are engaging in potential backup plans for six fall conferences, and actively looking for digital solutions.”

    This article was written by Boardroom Chief Editor Remi Deve. The right to use it, in parts or in full, has to be granted by the Publisher.

    Sense of community

    If this crisis can have one positive effect, it’s the creation of an even stronger sense of community and belonging, all of the members of our Advisory Board agreed on. They all see much more readiness to share information, to support what others are doing, more dialogue between competitors amongst their members, but also between associations. “For example, it took us few hours to find a consensus with other trade associations on a common statement which in other occasions it would have taken days without necessarily finding a common ground,” remarks Mezghani.

    “I think that this is a fair statement to say there is great opportunity to work together,” says D’Uva. “We are working even more closely with the broader healthcare community in collaborative ways to share information and resources. I also think it is a really important time for association leadership. CEOs and our volunteer leaders are being asked to show leadership by our members and we are continuing to find ways to do so and to engage our members to help us do this effectively. Our members and their institutions are looking to associations like ours to provide guidance, support and information. I believe associations exist to provide this crucial leadership through our ability to harness the power of the community to take action.”

    It’s important to create new opportunities for members to learn and network, “by showing our empathy and proximity at a business but also at a personal level,” Marletta points out. “Today the special element is that we’re a community which is “physically distant”. For us, like many other associations, the community building is done primarily at in-person events and this has to be adjusted today. We still promote a sense of community but through an innovative approach to fit the special circumstances,” he concludes.

    This article was written by Boardroom Chief Editor Remi Deve. The right to use it, in parts or in full, has to be granted by the Publisher.

  • 09 Apr 2020 6:58 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    If you are in the business of shepherding a nonprofit into the next decade and beyond, you will likely hear the phrase “change management” a lot. That’s because transforming a nonprofit still wedded to pen and paper into a thriving digital-first operation takes a good deal of both “change” and “management” to succeed.

    Aparna Kothary, director of technology operations at Global Citizen Year, has firsthand experience with change management. She had to implement new technology to help her nonprofit, which organizes gap year study-abroad programs for high school seniors, measure the impact of their work. The task forced her to realize that she not only needed to get buy-in from top-level management, but also to approach the process itself with patience and acceptance of setbacks.

    “When you put a lot of work into building something, you think it’s great and you want everybody else to think it’s great, but approaching it with humility is so important,” she says, “because people are going to poke holes in it and see things that you didn’t see.” In addition, people learn in different ways and have different skill sets, and so foisting online trainings on staff without support in place isn’t fair, she adds. “If our end goal is user adoption, it’s our responsibility to train people in a way that that works for them.”

    Setting expectations for new technology adopters is also important. Early on, things can be “a little messy,” Kothary says. A demo or early iteration of a new tool is frequently not the final version of that tool, and so being explicit about that expectation is vital. In her own case, she has found that really listening to stakeholder input around the development of new tools is “really, really powerful.”

    “Instead of saying, ‘Here’s this shiny new tool we are going to use forever,’ maybe say, ‘This is phase one of a three-year project, and every year we’re going to improve a little bit more, and here are the things we’re going to look at, at the end of the year to understand how it’s working, and what can be made better,’” she says. If stakeholders know that their input is valued, it results in a better end product.

    Tech Leadership

    Improving an organization’s culture this way requires leadership. According to the second annual Nonprofit Trends Report produced by Salesforce, leadership must not only lead the adoption of new technologies but also help nurture a culture that is open to embracing new technology in the first place. But 45 percent of nonprofits state that they lack the flexibility and adaptiveness that the adoption of new technology demands. 

    Alva H. Taylor, faculty director of the Glassmeyer/McNamee Center for Digital Strategies at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, also stresses the role of leaders when introducing new technology to an old organization. “Leadership has to understand it and know the importance of it, and also communicate [that importance] to everybody in their organization,” he says. Part of this transmission might involve showing how the new tool is compatible with how they’ve done their work in the past, while “really trumpeting the benefits” of adoption, Taylor says, so that new users can see how the new tool might make their lives easier or save them time. Management might even put a running counter or have a board that shows how something has been improved by the implementation of a tool, to help speed the tool’s adoption by staff. But the challenge is ultimately about management “communicating or even overcommunicating” the importance of a new tool, and then giving people kudos once they’ve mastered it, Taylor says.

    The Nonprofit Trends Report shows that, on average, different departments have different rates of adoption of new technologies. While 79 percent of nonprofits have a customer relationship management (CRM) system in place, a smaller percentage use CRM strategically across departments or to report back to their funders. Without “full adoption of technology,” the report suggests that nonprofits may not get the maximum return on investment, adding that “71 percent of respondents state that the technology they use at home is more productive than what they use at their nonprofit.”

    So, how do nonprofit leaders speed the adoption of promising new tech across all departments? As the only dedicated IT staffer at Global Citizen Year, Kothary says that showing leadership the return-on-investment (ROI) of a technology project can help with leadership buy-in. Unfortunately, showing ROI prior to implementation of a tool is a problem for 40 percent of the nonprofits surveyed in the report. For nonprofits facing this problem, Kothary suggests thinking about the status quo and current processes around a particular task, and then trying to assess any positive change that might come with the implementation of a new tool.

    “How much time does it take someone to, say, put contacts into Salesforce manually, and what else could they be doing with that time?” she says. “And then, say, here’s what we suggest in terms of an implementation, and this is roughly how much it’s going to cost and how much time it’s going to take to build and train [staff on it].”

    Kothary adds that if you run the numbers and it doesn’t seem like you’d break even over the next three to five years, then maybe it’s prudent to consider another solution—or perhaps even do nothing at all. She says to be mindful of implementing a “really expensive solution for a very small problem,” and to maybe wait for a better solution to come along.

    Rocks Before Pebbles

    With leadership must also come planning. Of the nonprofits surveyed in the Nonprofit Trends Report, 85 percent say that technology is key to the success of an organization like the one they work for, but only 23 percent say they have a long-term vision for the technology they plan on implementing. This can lead to what Sarah Angel-Johnson, chief information officer at the education nonprofit Year Up, calls the “rocks and pebbles” problem.

    When Angel-Johnson started at Year Up in June of last year, she found a lot of “rocks and pebbles” that had been piled into a metaphorical jar “the wrong way.” There were hundreds and hundreds of tiny projects, she says, all in unintegrated silos across the entire enterprise, jammed into the “bottom” of the jar, so that the “big rocks”—i.e., the big projects or solutions—couldn’t also fit inside the jar. Staff were so busy with the little projects—none of which were integrated into a larger business plan—that they had no time to address the important stuff. “Let’s not talk about the technology or the architecture first,” Angel-Johnson says. “Let’s talk about the human on the other side [experiencing a digital innovation].”

    “If you have a jar and you fill it with sand first, then pebbles and rocks, it won’t all fit,” Angel-Johnson says. “But if you fill the jar first with rocks and the pebbles and then finally sand, it will all fit.” In other words, leadership needs to establish priority projects and execute on them before pivoting to anything else. So Angel-Johnson had her staff design end-to-end “user maps” to understand the complex interrelations of all stakeholders, including students, corporate partners, donors, staff, and more. “Once we start seeing that user journey, we can then start prioritizing [issues], if there’s a business case behind it, or there is an ROI, whether it is financial or mission impact, using the human as your north star,” Angel-Johnson says. She’s halted the majority of her team’s work so she can pay attention to filling the jar with the “biggest rocks” first. “Now, there is one Year Up technology strategy and road map, period,” she says. “An IT [department] that has its own strategy makes no sense to me.”

    Developing a nonprofit-wide strategy can be difficult, but it’s critical to an organization’s long-term success and can only happen through leadership buy-in. Jarrod Bell, chief technology officer at Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, elaborates on how his organization achieved what he calls their “journey of transformation” to become a tech-savvy nonprofit. “Painting what the vision was for technology at our organization, tying that to the mission, having that message come from our president and CEO, having that message resonated by our board, finding evangelists in the business who understood that vision … that have large peer networks and have them reverberate those messages as well, and then repeating it over, and over, and over again,” Bell says.

    Such a campaign demands enormous investment, but there may be no alternative. “Transformation is difficult, because transformation is change, and change is hard,” says Rebeca Johnson, vice president of constituent experience and digital transformation at the American Heart Association. But “the world has changed,” she says, “and we have to change with it.”

    By Adrienne Day Apr. 7, 2020

    Adrienne Day reports on topics in science and culture for outlets like The New York TimesNew YorkNautilusOThe Oprah MagazineWired, and Grist, among other publications. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. 

  • 08 Apr 2020 5:09 PM | Kerrie Green (Administrator)

    AuSAE Member Update from CEO, Toni Brearley 

    I hope you are continuing to keep safe, well and connected during these uncertain times.

    Over the weekend, the Federal Government released a statement regarding the concessional test for registered charities to receive the JobKeeper Payment. Charities that are registered with the national regulator (ACNC) will be eligible for the Government’s $130 billion JobKeeper Payment if they have suffered a 15% decline in turnover as a result of the coronavirus (reduced from 30%). To read this statement please click here.

    Late Monday afternoon, on behalf of members, AuSAE released a letter to the Treasurer, Assistant Treasurer, and the Assistant Minister for Finance, Charities and Electoral matters commending and welcoming the threshold reduction for charities, however asked all not-for-profits be considered in this concession or a tailored approach to address organisations with a cyclical annual income cycle. To read this letter please click here.  You are welcome to share this with your local member of parliament.

    We also raised this issue with the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) who took the matter to Treasury’s Coronavirus Business Liaison Unit meeting on Monday.  Parliament is due to pass the JobKeeper legislation today.  We will keep you updated on the result.

    We will continue to work with you and advocate on behalf of associations, as we recognise the incredible work the sector is currently undertaking coupled with the vulnerability the sector is feeling during this time.

    Yesterday following the National Cabinet meeting the Prime Minister released an agreed Code of Conduct of SME Commercial Leases and health system modelling.  Further information can be found here.

    AuSAE Support Services

    AuSAE has reached out to member Paul Greenberg, Non Executive Director, NORA Network and National Retail Association. Paul is also a registered psychologist, and during this time has reached out to his network to kindly offer up his Fridays to provide free online counselling sessions. He has created a short video for our AuSAE members and community and extends his free counselling sessions to our network who might want to discuss their mental health and wellbeing in these challenging times.

    To view this video please click here: We thank Paul for his generosity and support of the association sector. To contact Paul please email:

    As this Friday is a public holiday, we will not be conducting our usual “Virtual Coffee” meeting,  however we will be back on Friday 17th April talking about membership renewals.  To join us register here.

    AuSAE Webinar Series – Strengthening Associations

    Last week we launched our AuSAE Webinar Series – Strengthening Associations. We hope this series will assist you to re-focus on what impact the current situation has had on your Association, and the critical things you can do to see this through. This series will occur every Wednesday until the end of June and will cover topics such as; financial distress indicators, membership redefined, pivoting to virtual events, culture during change and more. This webinar series is complimentary for AuSAE members, to register or find out more please click here.

    Support for your Members

    We have been speaking with our member, Family Business Australia (FBA) who are offering a COVID-19 Webinar Series for Family Businesses. For any of you who might have family businesses in your membership we encourage you to take a look at this series. 

    The COVID-19 Webinar Series for Family Business covers topics such as stimulus packages, uncertainty and cashflow, minimising the impact from a legal perspective and employer response. For more information and to register please click here

    We are updating our news and resource page daily on our website,  if you are looking for information that may assist you or your organisation please check in

    Thank you so much for your time again this week, as we find ourselves approaching the Easter break, I encourage you to take this time to step away and reflect on the last few months. The start to this year has been turbulent, unprecedented and ever changing, and I think it’s important for our association leaders to take a step back and look at the vital role your association has played at the coal face of these changes and be very proud of what you and your teams have achieved.

    Please reach out to myself or any of the team if we can be of assistance.

    Wish you a very happy, safe and restful Easter.

    “We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return. We will be with our friends again. We will be with our families again. We will meet again” Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

    Warm regards


    Toni Brearley
    Chief Executive Officer
    Australasian Society of Association Executives

    T    +61 1300 764 576  M +61 458 000 155
    A    Unit 6, 26 Navigator Place, Hendra Q 4011
    E   W

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software