• Create A Non-dues Revenue Plan



    Associations, and other non-profits, sometimes don’t think of themselves as corporations. But, by definition of 501(c)3 status, they are in fact, corporations. A for-profit corporation would never proceed without a business plan, and an association should not either.  Non-dues revenue is an important part of any associations bottom line, and when determining the source of this revenue stream, a business plan absolutely should be implemented. Our blog post about maintaining an association business plan is here.

    The mission of your association is a driving force behind your business plan for increasing non-dues revenue. As stated in this Association Now article, “ By keeping mission top of mind, organizations can weed through potential areas of opportunity and focus on those that are most relevant to their members and other customers.”

    Ask yourself, and your board, a few pointed questions as you develop a new or updated non-dues revenue plan.

    • What do we do well
    • What industry knowledge do we have that we can share? 
    • What do we know about our membership?

    As you fully answer these questions you will be able to define a plan. As you map this plan, don’t forget to think creatively! Offering career centers, licensing programs, or, affinity programs can be a great place to start. Remember, members will “pay more for commodities that satisfy discernible needs”.  

  • ACAE Legislative Information Recap


    The Alabama Council of Association Executives held the Legislative Information Seminar in the Capitol Auditorium on Tuesday, January 31st. Guest speakers included Governor Robert Bentley, Michael Sentance (Superintendent of the Alabama State Board of Education), Clinton Carter (Finance Director of Alabama Department of Finance), and Luther Strange (Attorney General’s Office). 

    Governor Bentley declared that prison reform would be his administration's primary focus this session, hoping to stave off a Special session by pushing legislation to be signed and passed before Spring Break. This legislation will be modeled after the House Substitute that passed the lower Chamber in 2016, calling for an $800,000,000 bond that will help rebuild facilities and provide a safer environment for correctional officers as well as inmates. Going for a more “holistic approach”, Bentley aims to incorporate a “faith based initiative” into the system that will help lower recidivism by providing parolees with job training and housing for a better future. When asked about Medicaid, Governor Bentley stated, “Every state is different. We all use different methods to fund Medicaid, and this new (Presidential) administration seems to be taking that into account. We [Alabama] have a bare bones policy, but other states rely more heavily on the system, and it’s important that those aspects are considered when talking about national healthcare.”.

    Michael Sentance discussed plans to construct a new public school system, mainly focused on the long term goals of education. As for Charter Schools, Sentance believes, “[Charter Schools] give us a chance to explore new methods of accountability.”  However, the Superintendent also stated he is, “not sure charter schools can be effective in Alabama’s current condition. We need a solid plan before trying to implement charter schools.” Math and Science curriculum reconstruction is also on his list, with the focus on Computer Science and Engineering. Sentance has called for a strategic planning group on Reading that will help determine the course of this construction because, “If our children cannot read properly, they can never be expected to learn the complexities of math and science.”

    Clinton Carter began by bringing up Bentley’s 2012 “Road to a Billion” plan, which aims to save the state a billion dollars every year. The Finance Director stated that he believes we will find these savings in a State Technology Initiative. Carter believes that technology is a great investment and will bring many jobs to the state of Alabama. His administration is pushing for legislation to consolidate our state technology departments into the larger Office of Information Technology, where they will be able to consolidate power, eliminate waste, and advance the state technologically. Although Carter made mention that there are “two to five pieces of legislation we are pushing this session”, including a “lump sum retirement plan” aimed at giving employees more options for receiving their pensions while also saving the state money in the long run. 

    Luther Strange was the last guest speaker formally scheduled and  touched on the major focuses of the Attorney General's Office including the state’s legal battles with the Environmental Protection Agency and the False Claims Act System, the Death Penalty, and Ethics Laws in Alabama. He also briefly mentioned the redistricting that will be occurring throughout the state.

    Mac McCutcheon and Del Marsh gave an overview of the House and Senate Agendas. Planning for Education/A Comprehensive Education Plan are among both leader’s top priorities. “Long term solutions” are at the heart of everything they are working on, especially education and budgeting, and both leaders are pushing for cooperation on all fronts. There is already a Budget Reform Task Force that has been meeting since January 30th, and their primary focus has been “to gather information, not to support legislation”. The task force is reviewing everything from tax collections and credits, to a “fees system”, retirement, and indexing; all of which will culminate in passing a substantial budget. Education is being left in the hands of Sentance and his team, but both chamber leaders have been active in gathering information from different education specialists and are prepared to accept any recommendations that will unify our state’s educational system. Redistricting was only briefly mentioned and as soon as the session begins, they will call for a task force to evaluate what needs to be done.

    Overall, the seminar was a great way to gauge what the major interests are for the State of Alabama, as well as the anticipated tempo our legislators will have this session. 

  • Build A Better Event


    Let’s say you desperately need to redo your association’s yearly conference. Or maybe your board has recommended you add an additional event this year. In either case, you could be starting from the ground up. This is the perfect time to consider "the why” your attendees attend and a great place to start would be career stage. Are your attendees new in the field or a seasoned professional? Each group will certainly benefit from the other, but their event expectations can be vastly different. A quick member survey, think free online services like SurveyMonkey, will aid in your event planning, and, start your wheels turning.

    If you are starting from scratch, use it to your advantage. Do something your members have never seen before! Take a cue from the recent conference for the Association for Creative Industries. This group offered attendees fun and different options to spice up their 75+ year-old trade show. Here are some of their fun ideas:

    • Art Studio where attendees could sip and paint, as well as connect.
    • Innovation center that allowed hands-on discovery of new technologies.
    • Edible Art Shoppe for design your own cookies.
    • Maker Space for actual test runs of equipment or products.
    • Plugged-in Park for relaxing and gathering with old and new friends.

    You can create your own specialty stations that correspond with your industry. Just think outside the box!

    A great tip from ASAE is this, when starting a new event or revamping an old one, have a test run! Host a pilot of your event. Ask your select attendees for critiques and feedback. Use this valuable information to tweak the “big event” and streamline where needed. That way, when the doors open, everything will run like clock work.

    Happy planning!

  • Don't Wait To Re-engage



    There’s an old saying that goes, “Twenty percent of the people do eighty percent of the work”. That statistic, as it were, rings true in most associations and organizations. As a leader, you attempt to utilize that 20% as effectively as you can without contributing to burnout. What do you do when one of your key volunteers, or members, suddenly stops volunteering? Stops liking your association’s social media posts? Breezes in and out of meetings, or doesn’t attend at all? What should you do if a truly engaged member suddenly becomes disengaged?

    An easy path to re-engagement is simply talking to this member. Find out why they aren’t as involved as they used to be. Is it a time issue, or, are they spending their resources elsewhere? Asking questions will help you to determine what will be the next best step to take.

    One step could be giving them an option of viewing a live stream of a meeting if they can’t make it to the meeting location. Or, offer smaller volunteering opportunities that take up less time; dropping off bottled water instead of manning the refreshment table. You also can match them up with a ‘mentor’ who can keep in touch with them and invite them to events.

    Key is knowing your members and responding quickly to a decrease in engagement. If it takes you six months to realize a key member has stopped coming to meetings, then you’ve probably lost them for good.

    We referenced this blog post from MemberClicks when writing this entry.


  • Introducing...The Bill Status Platform

    Take a peak at our Bill Status platform 

     We re-tooled our online service and made it better. From either your desktop or mobile device, you can access all the information you will need to track legislation during an Alabama legislative session. 

    You can create your own tracking reports, save them, and, email them to yourself, your coworkers, or, your clients. We've added email alerts to let you know when the legislation you are monitoring has a status change; and the platform dashboard has a live feed to all bill changes.

    The ability to sync the all important Committee Calendar with your own is a great new feature. To find out if there's been a room, or, time change, now you simply check your own calendar.  

    The Bill Status platform is easy to use. You can handle all reporting and tracking yourself with our DIY plan. If you want to work some on your own, but also want us to assist with keyword tracking, the Professional Plan is a great fit. Our Executive Plan lets us take care of everything for you. 

    So spend just a minute and 45 seconds, watch the video, and see how we can simplify your legislative life.  

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