Sector and AuSAE News

  • 24 Mar 2020 1:38 PM | Kerrie Green (Administrator)

    AuSAE Member Update from CEO, Toni Brearley 

    It’s the start of another week, and we’re not sure what we’ll be facing by the end of this week. The situation we find ourselves in is truly changing every hour. All we can promise to do for our members during this time is provide you with the most up to date information that we have on hand, in a concise, collated and relevant manner for you and your association.

    COVID-19 Second Stimulus Package

    On Sunday 22 March, the Australian Federal Government delivered a second stimulus package estimated to be worth $66b. Key points for businesses:

    Boosting Cash Flow for Employers:

    • This assistance is aimed towards companies, including not-for-profits, with an annual turnover of up to $50m.
    • The Government is providing up to $100,000 to eligible small and medium sized businesses, and not‑for-profits (including charities) that employ people, with a minimum payment of $20,000. These payments will help businesses’ and not-for-profits’ cash flow so they can keep operating, pay their rent, electricity and other bills and retain staff.
    • The cash injection will be linked to your company’s wages bill through the taxes an employer withholds during the year.
    • The assistance will be paid via the current ATO system once the March BAS is lodged direct to your company’s bank account. The payments will be delivered by the ATO as a credit on your business activity statements.

    Regulatory Protection and Financial Support for Businesses:

    • The Government will establish the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme which will support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to get access to working capital to help them get through the impact of the coronavirus.
    • Under the Scheme, the Government will guarantee 50% of new loans issued by eligible lenders to SMEs. This will unlock up to $40b in finance available for SMEs.
    • There will be more flexibility in respect to creditor initiated insolvency and voluntary administration actions. Moving the outstanding amounts limits from $2000 to $20,000, and timing to respond to 6 months instead of 21 days.
    • Relief for directors while trading insolvent will also be provided over the next 6 months.

    To read more about the above information please click here:

    AuSAE is working to procure information for specific commentary around what the new stimulus package means for associations, and where possible state packages also. We will have an update on this information towards the end of this week.

    Guidelines for Upcoming AGM

    COVID-19 may temporarily impact on your associations’ ability to hold an annual general meeting. This issue is most immediately relevant for companies with 31 December balance dates that are required to hold an AGM by 31 May 2020. For these entities, ASIC:

    • Confirms it will take no action if the AGMs are postponed for two months; that is, until the end of July.
    • Supports the holding of AGMs using appropriate technology.

    To read more about this please click here.

    Current Partner Resources to Help You

    • Our partner, FCB Group – HR Assured, have created a dedicated page for information relating to COVID-19. During these uncertain times, you may need some support and guidance on staff leave entitlements or other workplace relations topics. This page will provide you with useful content to equip you as an association manger moving forward: https://www.hrassured.com.au/coronavirus-covid-19/ 
    • Our partner, SMS, has created a free “Pandemic Management Strategy for Associations” template to use as a starting point for developing a plan. To download this please click here. A free webinar on this topic will also take place this Friday 27 March. To register please click here.
    • Our Partner Redback Connect is Australia’s foremost expert in delivering digital events and as a valued and long standing partner to AuSAE and the sector have confirmed they will extend a discount to any AuSAE member that wishes to take their live events online or who wish to enable their remote workers with collaboration services. Email Sara Drury sara.drury@rdbk.com.au for more information.

    AuSAE Members Virtual Coffee Catch Up

    Last Friday AuSAE kicked off our virtual coffee catch ups with members via Zoom. Given the ever-changing landscape and exceptional circumstances we all find ourselves in, we are focused on connecting our members now more than ever. It’s important to share how associations are navigating this new landscape and offer help and advice to each other where we can.

    Our virtual coffee catch ups will continue weekly and will take place on Fridays at 10am AEDT. For this week's catch up please come with your questions - what do you need to know now that will help your association and your members. We will aim to provide the answers that you need or connect you with other AuSAE members who can help.

    To register for this event please click here.

    AuSAE will release our Association Support series of webinars in the coming weeks to 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.

    That’s it from me for now, during this last week I have received many emails from our members with direct questions which the team and I are working hard to answer. Please continue to email me with any questions, concerns or opportunities

    And lastly a big and heartfelt THANK YOU! I know some of you have worked almost every day over the past 2-3 weeks keeping abreast of this situation for your members. I know you have felt the very real pain of some of your members that are experiencing difficulties that they never thought they would, and you and your teams and trying the very best you can to work through scenarios to achieve the best outcomes for your entire sector. The Association community should stand proud at the contribution they have made during this time. Associations do matter and there has been no greater evidence of this than right now.

    AuSAE is here for you – while you are servicing your members and their needs during this time – we are here for you to ensure the longevity and success of associations long past this crisis.

    Stay safe.

    Warmest regards

    Toni

    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 toni@ausae.org.au W www.ausae.org.au
    T Follow AuSAE on Twitter L Follow AuSAE on LinkedIn F Follow AuSAE on Facebook


  • 24 Mar 2020 7:40 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    Staying organized can be a real challenge in today’s technological age when it’s become nearly impossible to unplug. As challenging as getting and staying organized can be, it’s a critical component of personal efficiency and productivity.

    While certain people seem to have effortless, calm days, others rush through their days, weeks and even months in a whirl of bleary-eyed chaos. If you’re interested in improving your organisational skills, some of these time-saving, energy-reducing, life-enhancing habits can help you run your days more smoothly.

    1. Protect Your Time Fiercely

    Good time management skill is an asset when it comes to staying organized. When you organize your time on any scale, you automatically create order.

    “Time is what we want most, but what we spend worst.”

    William Penn said that. It’s profound and very true. There are lots of ways to slice your working hours every day. 8 hours is a lot of time you may be spending on too many things that have little or no value to your long-term goal —low-value meetings, reacting to urgent but unimportant emails, social browsing, responding to notifications etc.

    Time management works on a weekly basis when you’re making important plans and establishing recurring events. It works on a monthly basis when you’re deciding where you need to be and when. It also works on an annual basis when you’re planning which events to attend, or when to start a new habit.

    A little bit of organization can go an incredibly long way toward increasing effectiveness, boosting productivity, and creating new habits that foster the efficiency you crave.

    2. Have a Place For Everything — and Put it There

    Highly organized people strongly adhere to the “a place for everything and everything in its place” philosophy, which makes it much easier to stay organized. They are habitual declutterers.

    Decide where your keys will go and put them in the same place every time you walk through the door.

    Store away summer clothes in winter to declutter your closets. Declutter your drawers and get rid of everything you don’t need to make room for things you’ll actually need and use.

    “Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle,” recommends Marie Kondō, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

    “I recommend you dispose of anything that does not fall into one of three categories: currently in use, needed for a limited period of time, or must be kept indefinitely,” she writes in her book.

    By getting rid of, or storing away, things you only use occasionally (or things you never use but can’t seem to part with), you create instant organization. That’s because you know where the things you really, truly use are and that automatically makes them easier to find when you need them.

    3. Make Time for High-Value Priorities

    What are the priorities in your life? Organised people block their priorities — relationships, personal development, career growth, financial goals, healthy habits etc. Everyone’s priority list is different but the same concept can be used to make time for the most important things in your life.

    With a printed calendar (versus the one on your phone) you can create a colour-coded, time blocked schedule that keeps everyone and everything in your world organized.

    Time blocks also help you schedule downtime, dinner plans, and important client tasks. Need to beat a deadline? Schedule in five uninterrupted work hours. Have a repeating weekly event? Build a time block into your calendar. Need to just create daily routines?

    Time blocks can help you do it. Learn to break your day, week, or month into valuable time blocks to improve your personal efficiency, increase your productivity and recover from your workload.

    4. Purge Your Schedule to Build Efficient Routines

    It can be tough to get things done when you feel as though your schedule is taking over your life. Purging your schedule once (monthly or quarterly) a while saves you time and helps you achieve your goals as planned.

    The aim of a productivity purge is to reduce unnecessary repetition and improve your autopilot routines. It’s an opportunity to analyse every task or action, and identify items you can move around, delegate, slice, spread out, or even stop working on right away if it’s not helping you get closer to your goals.

    “The productivity purge is a necessary piece of project gardening. By doing these regularly, you keep yourself focused on what’s important. You get at least one month after every purge in which serious work gets done on a small number of projects,” says Cal Newport, author of Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World.

    It might seem irrelevant and unimportant to set aside time to pause and purge unnecessary tasks from your routine when you have a lot to do. But that time to analyse your routine, measure your results and make that important change may be the fresh start you need to get more done.

    5. Have a Routine — Even On Nights and Weekends

    How you spend your days is how you spend your life, which is why it’s so important to carve out daily routines. A life without a positive daily routine or structure is so much more draining mentally, physically, and emotionally than you can ever imagine!

    To make the most of your day, develop a routine for when you awake, for when you first start working, for when you finish your workday, and for the end of your evening.

    Whether you wake up 30 minutes before everyone else in your family, read important news every morning or workout at the same time after work, routines provide stability and organization to each day.

    Routines predetermine your schedule, allowing you to use your time efficiently. They provide a sense of structure and familiarity. You wake up with a sense of ownership, order, and organization of your life.

    6. Configure Your Phone to Work For You, Not Against You

    Our phones connect us with people we love, help us work on the go, and make online purchases easier. But if not managed, your phone can work against you — notifications, badges, banners, games, inboxes and social media can create an environment of interruption and distraction.

    But you can change that. That amazing little device gives us access to an incredible suite of organizational and productivity tools — use them to organise your life and work. Use your notes app to make shopping lists. Use your photo app to organize picture albums.

    Use productivity apps to organize work. Use the calendar app to purge unnecessary tasks, block off time and organize your day. Almost every activity of your day-to-day life can be found in an app. Since your phone is going to be with you all day, anyway, make it work to your advantage.

    7. Treat Emails Like Appointments

    The business world runs on email. While communication is great for business, email can ruin your productivity if you don’t tame it. Beyond necessary communication (sending and responding to important emails that advance work), email can be just as much of a distraction as it is a great communication tool.

    Learning when it’s productive to pay attention to email and when you should ignore it is a necessary skill. It’s counterproductive to check your inbox every five minutes. To defend your time from unnecessary emails, schedule time to check or respond to incoming emails. This keeps the incoming work in order while getting other tasks completed.

    To tame the chaos, you need an ongoing process for managing incoming emails; prioritising and weighing the value of different messages appropriately and responding to them at the right time without interfering with your workflow.

    In Gmail, you can create tabs that tell your emails where to go when you receive them. That little touch of organisation could mean you never have to see a spam email, again, except when you empty your email box. Many email providers have that same functionality and organization.

    Another way to organize your email inbox is to have multiple email addresses. Multiple email addresses will allow you to have one email for work, one for entering contests and signing up for freebies, and one for whatever else you want. Since people communicate by email on an ever-increasing basis, you can save an incredible amount of time with this simple organization hack.

    Finally, build email responses into those beneficial time blocks by opening emails only at certain times of the day and not allowing yourself to get sucked into the email rabbit hole over and over on a daily basis. You’d be surprised how much organization you can lose just by losing control of your time in small batches.

    Highly organized people are crystal clear of what needs to be done, what has to be put away, what needs be automated or delegated. They don’t complicate things because confusion breeds chaos. If you are unclear about anything, it would reflect in your execution.

    To keep your life organised, purge things daily and routinely — organising is should not be a separate event. It should be part of your day.

    WRITTEN BY

    Thomas Oppong

    Founder @AllTopStartups | Featured at Business Insider, Forbes, etc. I share practical tools for wealth, health, and happiness at https://postanly.substack.com


  • 24 Mar 2020 5:22 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    open letter 

    Dear AuSAE Member,

    Thought I would email you to let you know if there is any support in terms of education and content for newsletters etc we can provide to you and/or your members during this time please do not hesitate to contact me.

    As you are more than likely aware, on Tuesday 17 March 2020 the NZ Government announced a Business Continuity Package to help those struggling with the economic impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.  One part of that package proposes to give Inland Revenue the ability to remit use of money interest (UOMI) for businesses or individuals who are unable to make their payments on time due to the impact of COVID-19.

    In brief, this could apply for all payments due on or after 14 February 2020, and could be remitted for a maximum of two years past the date of enactment, but the actual length will depend on the circumstances of each business. These changes are contingent on legislation being passed.

    It’s proposed that any business or individual that has been significantly affected by the COVID-19 outbreak could receive the remissions.  Once legislation is passed Inland Revenue will create guidelines to help you establish whether a business or individual might be eligible.

    To find our more please visit www.ird.govt.nz/Updates/News-Folder/tax-relief-coronavirus

    If you and/or your members are struggling due to the impacts of COVID-19 coronavirus, we strongly encourage you to contact your tax professional to discuss how we might be able to help.

    Our normal options for re-estimating provisional tax, setting up instalment arrangements, remitting late payment and filing penalties, and severe hardship debt write-offs are available. We encourage impacted businesses to take advantage of them.

    The Government has also announced it will introduce legislation for four more tax changes to help businesses given the impact of COVID-19.  They are:

    •  to increase the provisional tax threshold from $2,500 to $5,000
    • to increase the small asset depreciation threshold from $500 to $1,000 – and to $5,000 for the 2020/21 tax year
    • to allow depreciation on commercial and industrial buildings.
    • Removing the hours test from the In-Work Tax Credit from 1 July 2020

     

    These four changes are not proposed to be timebound, would start from the 2020/21 tax year, and apply to all businesses - not just those affected by COVID-19. You can find out more about them at https://www.ird.govt.nz/covid19

    In terms of support , if you would like us to support you and your members through webinars , conference calls, produce content for newsletters etc please do not hesitate to contact me. Once legislation is passed we will be in a better position to provide guidance and certainty regarding the business continuity package although , as highlighted above, there is support available now and we do encourage impacted businesses to take advantage of them.

    Anyway, thought I would reach out and let you know we are available to assist if you would like.

    Regards,

    Rata Kamau

    Business Transformation Account Manager – Small & Medium Enterprises


  • 23 Mar 2020 2:13 PM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    Associations and Unions all have members, and staff, who are now on the front line dealing with the significant changes in our working and personal lives that we all face because of the coronavirus outbreak.

    These changes make it particularly important that Association CEOs provide leadership with a laser-like focus on the needs of both the members and their teams.  The question of how they do that is challenging for many organisations as they adjust to how it affects their personal and work lives, they contemplate staff working remotely (many for the first time) and members becoming more and more difficult to reach (and perhaps service) as they address this outbreak. Here are a number of things to consider:

    ·       Website: Your web site is one of the first places your members will go to. Make accessing this information as clear and easy as possible and most importantly ensure it is mobile friendly. Member services teams and their call centres are experiencing massive demand so look at how your web site can best support your members just as your valued staff do.

    ·       System in the Cloud: As staff begin to work remotely, ask are your systems available for your staff to access in the cloud? For organisations that have yet to fully embrace the Cloud, it’s not too late. Anywhere, anytime, on any device, has never been more important.

    ·       One system makes this less complicated: How many different systems are you using to manage member data? Compile a list and do an audit – you might be surprised. Consolidating to a single, enterprise, cloud member platform will allow you to be more nimble in this current environment.

    ·       Managing data security: How do you now manage data security with your staff working remotely? Additionally so if you have numerous systems.

    ·       Become an expert in conducting remote meetings: With face to face events cancelled, what other ways are you engaging with your members? There are many powerful online tools available to enable dynamic delivery of content and engagement. Whether they be educational now being delivered via an Learning Management Systems (LMS), or meetings and events going virtual, consider how you can incorporate these tools into your member engagement plans.

    ·       Become a community: Consider online communities and online special interest groups to drive connection between your members and your organisation. Your members are going to feel isolated so look at how can you easily connect and bring them together. You’ll be surprised how grateful they will be and what that means to them, and your organisation.

    ·       Agility to adjust membership types: And with changes to demands and expectations, not just on events, but also your membership you may need to look at amending membership from a typical yearly cycle to 15 months with an extra 3 months free as an example. An important questions is whether you have the billing agility to easily amend all of your pricing of membership, events, and services across all your offerings.

    For many of you the future is now and you may not have the luxury of easing into these changes, but it is critical that you look at how you manage your systems and all of your data. Not just from a data security perspective, but also from a member engagement perspective. What members do, and how they access resources, you will soon want, and need, to track all of this as measuring member engagement will be critical to adapting current offerings and creating new services to your members, not to mention aiding member retention in the months and years ahead.

    I hope that this blog has been useful in helping you consider quickly adapt. Please know that we are available to help facilitate these kinds of conversations inside your organisation. As an organisation with a mission to ensure that NFPs achieve success, we are now going to offering aree Success Assessment Workshops where we can help your team explore what is best to service your members and enable your team to be their most productive during these trying times. Please contact us if you are keen to find out more

    Mark Glynn, Performance Improvement Leader, Advanced Solutions International, mglynn@advsol.com


  • 18 Mar 2020 3:03 PM | Toni Brearley (Administrator)

    I hope you, your staff, members and family are well and safe during these uncertain and somewhat surreal times. 

    Firstly, an update to our members regarding the AuSAE Conference and Exhibition (ACE) 2020 and our face to face events. The current environment is changing every day, and like all organisations across Australia, AuSAE is closely monitoring the developments and advice provided by World, Federal and State government authorities to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our community and our staff.

    After much consideration from the AuSAE Board and key stakeholders, we wish to advise that we will postpone ACE 2020 due to be held March 31 – April 2. We will also postpone all other face to face events in the AuSAE calendar until 31 May 2020.

    Regarding ACE 2020, we are disappointed that we need to make this decision however, the safety of our members, community and Australia is our main concern and first responsibility during this time. We have not made this decision lightly as this is our largest event in the AuSAE calendar and provides considerable and crucial income to the ongoing viability of the association. We hope you will continue to support the postponed event. AuSAE is working with our key partners and our ACE venue partner and will provide an update in the next few days regarding the new dates for ACE 2020.

    During this time of significant uncertainty, AuSAE will be here for you - our members. Whilst we understand you are absolutely stretched in trying to support your own Industries and Professions at this time, we are committed to continuing to deliver options for you to access information and provide forums for discussions to help you do this and to help support your own businesses. In the coming days, AuSAE will touch base regarding online learning options and virtual event engagement opportunities.

    We realise you have also been inundated with offers of products and services and we want to assure you AuSAE is working very closely with all our current partners to provide resources that both assist and support you. We thank our partners for their pledged support now and into the future.

    In the meantime, we have collated some current resources that you may find immediately useful:

    • The Governance Institute is hosting a webinar on Thursday 19 March 2020 on “Coronavirus – evolving Business impact and continuity planning” To register please click here
    • AuSAE Alliance Partner, FCB Group has written the following advice article “The Employer Battles of the Coronavirus”. To read this please click here.
    • In response to the cancellation of many in-person events due to coronavirus (COVID-19), Higher Logic is offering Event Engagement to assist organisations in driving engagement and connection around virtual events. To find out more about this please click here.
    • AuSAE members are reminded that you are all members of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and have access to all virtual events, resources and on-line community access. They have also collated many resources and materials in relation to COVID-19. On Friday they are running a webcast on , “Remote Work During COVID-19: Human Resource and Technology Considerations”, to learn about key considerations for managing your staff and technology needs through the COVID-19 crisis.

    Last week, on behalf of members I wrote a letter to the Treasurer asking that not-for-profit Associations are not excluded from any government assistance designed to stem the economic fallout resulting from COVID-19. The letter can be found here. You are welcome to share this with your local member of parliament and communicate the impact on your own association. I am very conscious that our Associations are vulnerable during this time, especially in relation to lost revenue through events and will work with you to advocate whatever way we can to highlight and support this.

    Every day is changing, and it is a challenging time for you and the entire AuSAE community, we will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and we will provide regular updates and build our online capacity in order to support you during the coming weeks and months.

    Thank you for all your heartfelt support for AuSAE and for each other. It is in times like this that we come together, that relationships cultivated over time become the foundations for what will support our recovery.

    In this spirit I would like to extend an invitation to you all to join us for a virtual coffee on Friday morning, 10 am (EST) and let us know how you are going. I will open up my zoom “door” and hope to provide a platform for us to talk about the key challenges you are facing right now and how we can best support you so you can continue to provide support and leadership to your members. Register to join us here.

    We are here for you and will be reaching out in the coming weeks to personally check in. Please feel free to contact the AuSAE team on the details below if we can help in anyway.

    Toni Brearley, CEO: 0458 000 155
    Kerrie Green, Director Member Experience: 0400 198 928
    Abby Fields, Partnerships Manager: 0438 064 569

    Warm regards
    Toni 


  • 06 Mar 2020 3:15 PM | Toni Brearley (Administrator)

    AuSAE is concerned about the growing impact of COVID-19 and it's impact in Australia and New Zealand. Of key focus is the impact on the association meeting and events industry. 

    AuSAE has curated a selection of key resources to assist you to navigate the evolving situation.

    World Health and Government Resources

    World Health Organisation - Information and guidance from WHO regarding the current outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that was first reported from Wuhan, China, on 31 December 2019. 

    Australian Government - Department of Health-  resource page includes what you should know about the virus, situation updates, travel restrictions and resources and fact sheets for travellers, businesses, and others.  

    Ministry of Health - New Zealand - resource page including NZ situation update, information for travellers and information for organisers of public events and mass gatherings.

    NEW (8/03/2020): Recommendations by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) with regards to public events.

    State and Territory Health Department Information

    Meeting and Event Specific Resources 

    World Health Organisation - Key planning recommendations for mass gathering in the context of the current COVID-19 outbreak.

    PCMA - Global Association of Business Events Leaders information page and resources.

    US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention - Interim Guidance - Get your Mass Gatherings of Large Community Events ready for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) 

    Workplace and Business Continuity Resources

    Australian Government - Department of Health - Information for Employers

    Safework Australia - Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Advice for PCBU's (persons conducting a business or undertaking)

    McKinsey & Company - COVID-19 Implications for Business

    Associations Now - Article - How to Keep your Association Running if Coronavirus Worsens

    Harvard Business Review - Article - Lead your Business through the Coronavirus Crisis

  • 04 Mar 2020 3:40 PM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    How important to your business, are foreign workers?

    Let us help you through the process of accreditation

    Between now and 2021, Immigration New Zealand are rolling out major changes to visa management processes for Employers. These changes include:

    • Changes to the talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa (already in force)
    • A new employer accreditation process
    • The merging of 6 temporary visa’s into one visa
    • New job classifications for high and low paid
    • Strengthening the labour market test
    • Introducing sector agreements

    The most important facet of these changes is the shift away from granting visas to employees who meet the requirements of an advertised position, to granting visas ONLY to employers who meet the requirements of a suitable employer through Immigration NZ’s compulsory accreditation process.

    If you ever expect to hire a foreigner, or to renew a visa for an existing employee, then these changes have the potential to severely affect your business.

    If you hire migrant workers, the best thing you can do for your business is to keep one step ahead of these changes.

    There are 4 key components that your business needs to meet

    1. Financial position-You must be in sound financial position
    2. Human resource-You must adopt good human resource practices
    3. Workplace practices-You must have good workplace practices
    4. Training and employing New Zealanders -You must be committed to training and employing New Zealanders


    Our team has put together a comprehensive guide to everything you require to meet the criteria so please read through our guidelines and call our team for a free consultation.

    Link to guide: https://www.hrassured.co.nz/blog/getting-on-board-with-the-new-accreditation-requirements/


  • 14 Feb 2020 5:07 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    If you have members who are influential in your industry or profession, consider putting them to work as ambassadors. A look at some roles to consider them for.

    Influencer marketing isn’t just for A-list celebrities and social media personalities with tens of thousands of followers.

    Inside an association, an influencer might be anyone from the CEO to a new member with a small network of highly engaged followers, otherwise known as a “micro-influencer.”

    Regardless of where your association’s influencers reside, consider if they could serve as an ambassador for your industry or profession. That’s exactly what the Women in Trucking Association (WIT) did with its Driver Ambassador program, launched earlier this month.

    Kellylynn McLaughlin—a professional commercial-motor-vehicle driver and training engineer who was also a dedicated WIT volunteer—will be the official WIT Driver Ambassador and travel around the country discussing the many career benefits she’s received from being part of the industry.

    In addition to serving as an ambassador, McLaughlin’s role, which actually made her a part-time WIT staffer, will also have her sharing stories on a blog, serving as a subject-matter expert to media requests, and educating legislators and the general public about the trucking profession.

    “Kellylynn has such a passion for the job, and you want to find your best members who can project that out to others,” says WIT Vice President Debbie Sparks. “As an ambassador, she talks about why she loves being a professional truck driver, but she also uses her position to help recruit new members.”

    Even if you don’t have the budget to hire a part-time ambassador like WIT did, there are several other ambassador roles that your members can play. Here are three other association examples:

    Online community ambassadors. Some of your most engaged members might also be frequent contributors to your association’s online community. At the International Society for Technology in Education, members are frequently called upon to help nurture and grow online engagement as community ambassadors.

    “Some examples include welcoming in new members, nudging along conversations that need further attention, or seeding the community with discussions during quieter periods,” says ISTE’s Director of Community Engagement Simon Helton. “We rely on [members] quite a bit, especially because we cover such a wide range of topics and there’s just no way to have enough expertise on our staff to do it all.”

    Social media ambassadors. If members influencers are adept at using Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, or Twitter, associations can recruit people to become social media brand ambassadors for the organization.

    In July, Melissa Russom of Nonprofit Tech for Good outlined seven key steps that make a social media ambassador program successful. Essential to a program’s success are the resources, media assets, and guidelines you provide influencers. Also, a degree of flexibility is required.

    “This is not the time for brand policing,” she writes. “You want individuals with personalities. You want your ambassadors to be themselves, not a scripted version that resembles themselves and strips away the authenticity that made their relationship as an ambassador so powerful, to begin with.”

    Show ambassadors. A few years ago, my colleague Sam Whitehorne blogged about the value of enlisting show ambassadors as part of your conference strategy.

    Conference ambassadors can be especially helpful if your association is looking to get its students or young professionals better engaged. By having these groups serve as ambassadors, there could be bonus payoffs for your long-term membership strategy. “These programs allow associations to get students involved in and familiar with what they do,” Whitehorne writes. “This could mean the students become members in the years ahead, bringing a new generation and dues revenue with them.”

    BY TIM EBNER / FEB 11, 2020The Women in Trucking Association recently launched a driver ambassador program. (Smederevac/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

  • 07 Feb 2020 5:41 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    A new GrowthZone survey indicates that many associations struggle to retain first-year members. If your organisation is one of them, a few adjustments to your member onboarding program could help reverse the trend.

    If it’s been a while since you’ve evaluated how you onboard new members, there’s a new study that suggests now might be a good time to do it. Last week, the association management software firm GrowthZone released its 2020 Association Annual Survey Results, and it has good and bad news.

    The good news first: New-member growth held steady over the past year. Forty-five percent of association professionals surveyed said their new-member rate increased, only one percentage point less than the previous year.

    But there’s a more troubling statistic in this year’s report: Only 11 percent of respondents said their first-year member renewal rate increased in the past year, whereas 26 percent said it went down, and 61 percent said it remained about the same.

    To hold onto new members after that first year, associations need to demonstrate value as quickly as possible, says Amy Gitchell, senior marketing communications specialist at GrowthZone.
    “It’s extremely important that new members understand the value you bring to their lives,” she says. “In the survey, associations whose members recognized their value proposition reported higher renewal rates overall.”
    That means you need to be thinking about proving value from the moment you begin onboarding a new member. If your onboarding program isn’t focused on value, a recent guide from MemberClicks has several ideas for how to make improvements:

    Build targeted communications. In the GrowthZone study, one in four respondents said the top reason they saw increased member engagement was that they sent more targeted email communications to each member.
    Callie Walker, a senior inbound marketing specialist at MemberClicks, recommends using an automated drip email campaign to communicate with members. Sync the campaign with your association management system, where additional member data can be captured.
    For example, when your new members applied for membership, “were they given the option to select special interests?” Walker writes in the guide. “If so, consider sending them content right off the bat about those special interests.”

    Send invitations to a “new members only” event. Hosting a few low-budget events for new members can help them feel welcome. They might take place during your annual meeting or another conference—examples include a networking happy hour or a gathering in a new-members-only lounge, Walker says. And don’t underestimate the power of virtual events, such as regular orientation webinars.
    “The benefit of doing it in a webinar format is that you’re bringing your new members together, getting them to actively engage with your organization, and giving them an opportunity to ask questions—all crucial for onboarding success,” Walker writes.

    Ask questions at the six-month mark. It’s also essential to listen to new members’ feedback at the midpoint of their first year. Walker suggests asking:

    • What do you like the most about membership? What do you like the least?
    • How often and why do you login to use the member portal?
    • What meetings or events have you attended since joining?
    • How likely are you to renew? Why or why not?

    Checking in at the six-month mark gives you a chance to point out opportunities that new members may be missing or to resolve any frustrations they may be experiencing before you ask them to renew.“If there’s something they’re not really digging or taking advantage of, it gives your association the opportunity to make adjustments before the question of renewal is put back on the table,” she writes.

    TIM EBNER - Tim Ebner is a senior editor for Associations Now. He covers membership, leadership, and governance issues.


  • 30 Jan 2020 4:22 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    Attendees take time away from the office and spend money to attend your events. Are you doing everything you can to make them feel appreciated? Five ideas for setting the bar high.

    Earlier this week I came across an article posted on Harvard Business Review (HBR) about small things employers and managers can do to make their employees feel appreciated. The article got me thinking about two things: how it applies to conference attendees, as well as a bad experience I had as an attendee that made me feel unappreciated.

    We’ll start with the latter. During my first job as an editorial assistant for Prevention magazine, I was sent to a holistic health conference. I was excited because not only was it the first conference I got to attend as an official reporter, but I was also getting to fly and stay there on the company dime. Now fast forward to me arriving: I walk in to the registration area where I am asked to give my name. When I do, I’m told, “We have no one registered under that name.” We quickly discover I’m registered under “Samantha Whitehorse.”

    Honestly, it’s not a big deal. My last name has been mispronounced and misspelled practically since I was born, but what was surprising was their solution. Instead of printing me a new name badge, they told me the only option was to hand-write my correct name on a white sheet of paper and shove it in my badge holder. Needless to say, most of my conversations at that conference began with people looking at my badge and saying, “Oh, what happened?” or “So, you signed up at the last minute and they couldn’t make you a proper badge?” Not exactly the impression I wanted to make.

    So, in the vein of HBR, here are five small ways to make your attendees feel appreciated:

    Tell them to what to expect ahead of time. Attendees, especially first-timers, may feel some anxiety about attending your event, so it’s important to give them as much information as you can. You might provide them with a first-timers’ guide or share tips and tricks from your seasoned attendees.

    Make them feel at home once they’re onsite. First impressions are everything, so set the tone immediately when attendees arrive. If that’s at the convention center, make sure you have their name badge ready (with the correct spelling!) and that you give them the tools they need to make the most of your conference. These might include your onsite guide, a personalized list of suggested sessions, or a schedule of networking events.

    Give them the opportunity to provide feedback in real time. Sometimes you can make quick fixes for attendees onsite that make them feel more comfortable—for instance, making the room warmer or turning up the microphone volume in the general session. Give attendees a way to provide feedback in the moment, whether through your conference app or social media.

    Be their note-taker. With multiple sessions to choose from in a particular time slot, attendees won’t be able to get to every learning session they’d like. Consider having a designated person in each session who can take notes on the key takeaways and lessons. After the conference, send a summary out to every attendee, so they don’t feel like they’ve missed out on anything.

    Follow up with them post-conference. Once the closing session wraps up, it doesn’t mean that the experience is over for your attendees. Touch base with them after they’ve returned home. That communication should include not only a post-event survey to get their thoughts, but also a thank you to say the event wouldn’t have been as successful without them being there.

    How does your association make sure that your conference attendees feel appreciated? Tell us about it in the comments.

    BY SAMANTHA WHITEHORNE / JAN 23, 2020 - Association NOW

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