Friday, July 27, 2007

ORG 2.0

Seth Godin wrote about smart non-profits back in January. There is a list of the smart 59 here. It's about smart marketing.

Look at #49: Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Online and offline partnerships and events that garner huge particpation and large donation amounts. Komen has 3-Day Walks and 1-Day Runs. New Balance is a major sponsor. You can find pink gear in so many places now. Smart marketing.

There are 58 other smart ideas on that list. Why did I bring it up? Recently, I have found myself being invited to particpate in two separate ISP associations. One I was an active member of for 5 years including chairing Committees and briefly sitting on the board before that org imploded (in my book anyway). The other is a fledgling org that is on the cusp. Both can, if the correct path is taken, do wonderful things for thier constituents.

Here are my suggestions:

  1. Get Professional Association Management. CAE's know how to train Board members; attract vendors; acquire members; and organize events. It is too hard to run an organization with all volunteers (or in some cases untrained professionals who will not be up to the task at hand due to distractions from their own agenda).
  2. Poll and talk to the Membership - oftem (It is THEIR org, not the Board's).
  3. Spend less time bitching and more time teaching, learning, and doing.
  4. Don't let the listserv devolve into government bashing, especially on a public listserv.
  5. Have a professional website that is updated frequently. It's your business card.
  6. Not just Attend Industry functions, but Particpate, make announcements, and create an impact (or why bother?)

Promotion and marketing are important. The CAE knows how to do this and a volunteer member committe can help. (Or at least hire a PR firm to put out press releases regularly).

The listserv is the most valuable part of an association. It's where members get to share and network. It's where vendors can effectively show their expertise (IOW, market without hammering ads). The listserv needs to be maintained and cared for.

Being a vendor member costs about $1,000 per year. With time spent on listserv messages, participating on committees, attending meetings, etc., the ROI for a vendor has to be about $5,000 in sales for it to be worthwhile.

Associations cost money. But how long will members continue to fund an organization that has very little pay off? Or isn't moving forward? The Board has to attract, retain, and keep happy the Vendors as well as the Members in a thin wire balancing act.

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