The Association of Financial Advisers and the Financial Planning Association of Australia are calling for mandatory membership of financial planners in order to lift both the professional standards of public perception of the finance advice industry. Even more interesting than the article itself are the comments. It is interesting to see how members and prospective members are reacting to this more ... read more.
Elizabeth Weaver has put up an excellent post giving guidance on how to put together a good "request for proposal". Well worth a read if you are looking to maximise the effectiveness of this process ... read more.
Many associations claim that "keeping members up-to-date" is one of their major member benefits. However we live in a world where information is already at our fingertips. This means that the biggest competitor to these associations is Google.
The biggest benefit of Google is also its biggest problem - there is simply so much information. One search can return a million results. Therefore it is those who are able to harness google to enhance their member benefits who are able to stay one step ahead.
Savvy associations are using tools such as Google Alerts. Through Google Alerts you can be notified on a daily basis of any new information related to the search phrases you have entered. I have about 24 different active alerts. The Alerts let you know about new content from news, blogs and websites.
By using these alerts you can ensure you are the first to hear news as it hits the web - and therefore the first to tell your members about it. You become a clearing-house for information by collecting and reviewing incoming information and keeping members up-to-date only with items of interest to them ... a massive benefit in today's time poor society!
I love this quote from the book. What if someone takes aim at your association as the incumbent and your membership dues as the product? What would you do?
Today, we know that the most disruptive way to enter a market is to vaporize the economics of existing business models. Charge nothing for a product that the incumbents depend on for their profits. The world will beat a path to your door and you can sell them something else.
Opportunities to attend higher education programs designed specifically for nonprofit leaders in Australia are rare. The UQ Business School has been running a great program that I'd really recommend investigating if you are looking for a good professional development opportunity. Here is the information I have been sent ...
The University of Queensland Business School will be staging a Corporate Education Programme in Brisbane from 21 – 25 September 2009 entitled “Advanced Leadership for the Not for Profit Sector”. This course will feature a number of successful case studies, analysis of successful leadership and marketing strategies within the sector; and will be facilitated by experts and prominent leaders from the sector. We have arranged for many high profile guest speakers to contribute including the Honorable Wayne Goss who will be addressing the group at the formal course dinner. The Business School, as its commitment to corporate social responsibility, has discounted this week long corporate education course. The quality of this leadership program is exceptionally high, in response to demand from the sector. The $2,950 investment for the course – which includes all materials, presentations and catering – is exceptionally low for a 5 day leadership development program. For further information about this course, or others presented by University of Queensland Corporate Education, please contact Simone Hicks, Client Relationships Coordinator on (07) 3346 7111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
An interesting report has been released from IEG has shown that North American companies are expected to spend a total of $1.55 billion on cause partnerships in 2009. This is a 2.2 percent increase from the $1.52 billion invested in those programs in 2008. They also found that some nonprofits that deal with poverty, hunger and other issues directly impacted by the economy have found increased corporate interest. ... read more.
Social media is a great way to keep up with the conversations going on in your business, personal and special interest lives. However it is hard to keep up with everything as well as actually have a real life as well. I came across this article today by Summer Huggins who has some great tips on her blog on how to work social media into your work day - ... read more.
After our recent experiences with having a laptop computer stolen this post from Lisa Bundesen on her Fraud in NFPs blog really resonated. A great read with some interesting pitfalls even for those who are taking backups ... read more.
Wow ... in the U.S. GM Motors was allowed to abruptly cancel 54 sponsorship contracts worth tens of millions (possibly more). While it was a necessary cost cutting measure it will make people very wary about dealing with them in the future. I'd certainly be asking for the money upfront! ... read more.
I found this interesting article from Ann Oliveri who looks at how associations engage with their employees. She makes the interesting observation "how can the association embrace their community if they aren't functioning as a community themselves". She also provides some tips on how to manage more effectively. Click here to read more.
The Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey research has been released and showed that 64% of consumers "completely" or "somewhat" trust sponsorship as a form of advertising. This is the fastest growing in trust as it is up from 49% only two years ago. Sponsorship was ranked ahead of traditional, mobile and digital advertising. The only medium ahead of sponsorship was brand Web sites (70% found trustworthy). Inerestingly 70% of people trusted opinions they read online. The basic result - that consumers trust real friends and virtual strangers the most. How does this impact on your marketing?
Members recruited from events are more likely to renew and more likely to be actively involved in your organisation. Non-members registering to attend your events represent a great opportunity to recruit. Following are a couple of simple, easy to implement ideas that should increase your conversion rate ….
Prior to the event
Have a significant price difference between members and non-members.
Include an additional section on the registration that enables non-members to join your organisation on the same form.
Market the event to those who have enquired about membership previously but not joined.
Market the event through your sponsors and suppliers. Find out if you can send out a registration form with their next mailout – or if they could send out an email or fax to their clients on your behalf.
All non-members registering for events should be given a courtesy phone call to ask if they would like to join to take advantage of the discount. If you are a little shy about calling you can start by letting them know that you’ve received the form and would just like to confirm their details.
At the event
At the event make sure that non-members are identified (such as by a spot on their badge). Ensure that all staff, board and volunteers are aware that these people are non-members who may need special attention.
Appoint several member volunteers whose specific job is to ensure that the non-members have a great time throughout the event.
Provide incentives to non-members to join at the event.
Provide a forum at the event, such as a membership information session, where non-members and members can attend to find out more about the benefits of their membership.
After the event
Phone the non-members who attended and ask what they thought of the event. If they had a great time, ask if they would like to join (provide some kind of limited time incentive). If they didn’t enjoy the event then, if appropriate, action the feedback and provide some kind of “make-good” to the dissatisfied non-member – such as inviting them to a future event as your guest.
Keep the details of all those who didn’t join on a list for the promotion of future events or member recruitment campaigns.
Midcourse Corrections has put up a great article challenging people to make their event less predicable. I recommend reading Jeff's article: Is Your Annual Conference, Meeting Or Event Predictable? and see if it sparks a few ideas on how you can shake up your next event a bit more.
Smartblog on social media has run an interesting case study on how the Lupus Foundation of America uses Facebook to raise funds. Considering the recent publicity claiming that Facebook is a bit of a dud when it comes to raising funds this is an interesting case study to see. However I did notice that while they reports at 790% increase in donations via Facebook I would be interested to see what the actual amounts were (afterall, a 790% increase from $1 would probably not justify the resources allocated to daily updates). I would be interested on your take on this article.
On his Membership Marketing blog Tony Rossell recently talked about how research has found direct mail to be the most common method of sourcing new members (see: Direct mail is tops for membership). Here is where the Australian, UK and US markets seem to be quite different. In Australia and the UK traditional professional associations and industry bodies have rarely used direct mail to its full potential. Is there an opportunity here we are missing? If you've had any experience with direct mail please comment below. I'd love to hear what you have to say.
I found an article today that really reinforces my point about how associations deal with volunteers. I recommend clicking through to read the Acronym blog entitled: Are you making it easy for your members to volunteer. I like the way it encourages more innovative solutions to create opportunities to volunteer that are quick and easy for the member - and also valuable to yourself.
The Decision to Join research was quite clear when it said "If a resigned member can be regarded as dead, then an inactive member can be regarded as comatose". It went on to say that ad-hoc volunteering opportunities are the crucial segway between inactive and active members.
This means that if you can get your members more actively engaged with your association then they are more likely to renew. What makes this challenging is that different members will want to engage with you in different ways. Some will want to attend events while others would prefer opportunities that don't involve them leaving the house. You need to provide a variety of options to cater for all preferences.
Broadly speaking, getting members engaged is a three step process of which you are responsible for two steps. These are:
1. The association is responsible for creating opportunities for members to get involved.
2. The association is responsible for effectively communicating these opportunities to their members (in such a way that the members are fully aware of the opportunities available to them).
3. The member is responsible for taking advantage of those opportunities.
I often hear associations calling on their members to volunteer. I really dislike that word a it carries the connotation that the benefit is entirely for the organisation.
When I hear "We are looking for volunteers to help out at our annual event" I'm actually hearing "We've got some work for you that will take an indeterminate amount of time ... and by the way there is a good chance you won't enjoy it".
Consider rephrasing your request. Don't ask for volunteers. Instead welcome people to "Get Involved". Then let them know:
The positive benefits for them (learning new skills for the resume, expanding their social or business networks, etc);
the type of work involved;
the time committment (date, time and duration); and
who to contact.
"Are you interested in meeting some of the most successful people in our industry? We're looking for someone to attend our annual networking event as our Member Representative. Your role will be to ensure all our new and prospective members have a great time. This is a great opportunity to expand your networks in a social environment. We are looking for someone who can spare 2 hours from 6.00 on DATE. To take advantage of this opportunity contact PERSON via EMAIL or PHONE"
SMS specialises in sponsorship development and training, membership development and training, strategic planning and meeting facilitation. As part of this work they regularly undertake in-house training and speaking. Through their consultancy work they assist organisation with turnarounds, governance overhauls, research, strategic planning and general trouble shooting. You can read testimonials from clients and event delegates on the SMS website. Join the Membership Solutions LinkedIn group to interact with others in the industry.
About Belinda Busoli and Julian Moore
Belinda Moore (formerly Belinda Busoli) is a membership specialist who has assisted hundreds of not-for-profit organisations through Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States of America with their membership challenges.
Belinda is a professional speaker who specialises in training, motivating and up-skilling boards, staff and volunteers to improve membership performance. Known for her enthusiastic style, Belinda presents frequently for not-for-profit organisations. Belinda arrives on the platform armed with an array of topics relating to membership. Revealing insights from personal and professional experiences, she ensures that participants walk away with practical ideas and information that can immediately be applied.
Belinda is the author of the Membership Machine, Australia’s foremost guide to member recruitment and retention.
Belinda produces the monthly "The Income Generator" e-bulletin goes to over 12,000 associations, charities and other nonprofits every month.
Julian Moore is a sponsorship and business development specialist. Until 2008 he was based in Westminster at AVA Ltd where he worked as the Development Manager for a number of different nonprofit organisations including associations, chambers of commerce and sporting clubs.
His role was to assist each client to raise their profile, maximise their revenue streams and increase their surplus. Julian is keen to share his enormous success in this arena with others to enable them to achieve the same level of success for their organisations.
Julian is an engaging speaker who brings a wealth of personal experience to his presentations. He ensures that attendeses walk away with concrete tools, ideas and skills that will assist them to successfully generate funds for their organisations.
Belinda and Julian work together at Strategic Membership Solutions. They had heard about each others' successes via the association grapevine and were keen to meet in person. They were both attending the same conference in Barcelona so they arranged meet for a cup of coffee.
It was love at first sight and many hours later they were still talking over the same cup of coffee (now somewhat colder). After returning to her hotel room later that day Belinda called her mother and told her "I've met the man I'm going to marry". Luckily for them both she didn't tell Julian about that until after they were engaged!
Shortly after Julian moved to Australia and the rest is history. They both passionately love the work they do in the sector almost as much as they love each other - so working together was a foregone conclusion.
They were married in April 2010 and are now expecting their first child together in October. They live in "wedded bliss" in Brisbane with their three dogs ... as well as a large collection of lorikeets, kookaburras and other assorted native birds who have taken up residence in the backyard.