Sponsorship Tips

I recently attended a great class on sponsorship tips led by Brad Lacy, IOM, CCE, President and CEO, Conway Area Chamber of Commerce.

The following comments below are from my notes during this great two hour session.  He started with:

Trouble Signs of Sponsorship Programs

  • Nobody's buying;
  • We need your support (never use this line).  You are not a charity; and
  • Nobody's attending.

Successful Sponsorship Programs

  • Events sold out;
  • You exceeded your goals;
  • Renewed sponsorships at a high number for same event last year;
  • You're communicating the value; and
  • You're customizing based on each sponsors needs.

He went on to talk about how your pitch to a potential sponsor should be focused on showing the value of the program or event.  You must understand your target audience, and understand your product.

What documents are your sponsors/investors receiving, a follow-up collateral piece with their logo, pictures of event and list of speakers?

Show how they are supporting the community while getting branding recognition w/logo placement.  Follow-up with a collateral piece to show your event and sponsor participation.

And that collateral can be used for recruiting new sponsors as well as showing the value to those sponsors who attended the event.  Your collateral piece might include:

  • Pictures;
  • Content;
  • Community connection; and
  • Showcasing the leaders at the event.

It’s never about supporting an entity (i.e. chamber, YPG, etc.).  It’s about showing value - access to XXX number of people that they could do business with in the future.

He went on to talk about creating an event/program that works for your sponsors (i.e. time wise)?  Think about the small business member whose office opens at 10:00 a.m.  Are you creating opportunities for them to sponsor an event on their off hours?

That's a great way to take any barriers away from participating as a sponsor at one of your events.

Good luck recruiting sponsors for your next event!

Guide to Governance

recently attended a class on governance for chambers and associations with Bob Harris, CAE.

The following are my notes.  It was hard to keep up with Bob, he was giving tips and best practices in a rapid-fire presentation.

Here we go!

Best Practices:
  • Conduct an annual orientation for your Board of Directors with governing documents reflected in your minutes.  What a great way to protect yourself.
  • Make sure they know their fiduciary responsibility – Duty of Care, Duty of Loyalty and Duty of Obedience.  For a previous blog post on that subject go HERE.
  • Protections of the board (4)

o   D&O - Directors and Officers insurance
o   Incorporated
o   Indemnification
o   Volunteer immunity

  • Put your mission statement on the back of your Board of Directors tent cards at your meetings.  Also, it should always be on your meeting agenda too!
  • When selecting board members, he used these words in what to look for “time, talent and treasury.”  I have always said “passion, intellect and money.”  We’re saying the same thing!
  • Average size board is 15
  • Chambers typically meet once a month, he suggested try meeting every other month.
  • Associations generally meet three times a year.
  • What’s your tag line?  Vision.Value.Voice. – not a bad start to build on!
  • Ex-officio members appointed to board because of their position somewhere else - bottom line, you’re on the board or not?  I am not a fan of ex-officio members and I’ve stated that multiple times on this blog.
  • 2015 California law doesn’t allow non-voting ex-officio board members.
  • If you send the Mayor (ex-officio member) your agenda, it just became public.
  • Your 990 is your only public document.

Tips on good board governance:

  • Board sets policy, staff implements that policy
  • Board should be concerned on issues beyond their term.
  • How many committees do you have?  Committees should match up with your strategic goals (i.e. four goals, four committees).

He ended with a review of our governing documents:

  • Articles of Incorporation (contract with state)
  • Mission (purpose of existence)
  • Bylaws (relationship to members)
  • Policies (interpretation of governing documents)
  • Strategic Plan (roadmap of organization GPS goals, priorities, strategy)
  • Annual Budget

And a final statistic, 9% of your budget should be spent on technology based on research by (ASAE and ACCE).

Pandemic and Economic Recovery: Hope and Opportunity

Institute for Organization Management faculty member Bob Harris, CAE led a webinar based on the title of this blog and started with flexibility - your leadership and your staff.

It was a very positive message, it’s our time to share!  It’s our opportunity to show the value of your chamber to your members, non-members and the public in your community.

 

And part of that positive message is talking about an economic recovery not just Covid-19.  He went on to lay out some best practices for your chamber.

 

Communications:

  • Have a single spokesperson for your chamber throughout this process to have a consistent message;
  • Now is the time for that elevator speech (and it should be tight); and
  • Track and share good deeds.

Bob stressed you need to continue to recruit new memberships on the work you are doing.  Do you have an ROI Dues Value Calculator?  If so, now is the time to publicize it.  Do not stop sending those invoices.  If you’re out of business, you won’t be useful to anyone.  And a thought I’ll throw out there, have you thought about a GoFundMe site?

 

Board Governance

  • Extend terms if needed;
  • Now is the time to empower your executive committee in these times of possibly having trouble in getting a quorum at a full board meeting; and
  • Reduce meeting agendas and make sure you are using the consent calendar to your advantage.

He went on to talk about pausing your long-term plan and pivot to creating a recovery plan for the next three to six months.  Make it specific on how you’re going to help your members get back in the game.

 

You might want to set-up some short-term task forces to deal with specific issues and not worry about your standing committees at this time.  And remember, these task forces go away in the near future!

 

And he ended with:

  • Now is the time for advocacy to champion the interests of your members;
  • Repurpose your events - in-person to online programming; and
  • Work with your sponsors to find value for them and keep them involved in your organization.  Always keep your lines of communication open.

 Good luck!

Communicating and Collaborating in the Remote Work World

This blog post is based on a recent webinar I attended with Carol Vernon and Carol Hamilton from Communications Matter.

Building Trust - your members want to hear from you, we are the conveners to collaborate - show value to your members.

And don't forget to use one-on-one communications to ask your members how they are doing (i.e. phone calls).

Communication is the foundation for effective collaboration - who are your key stakeholders that you need to keep these lines of communication open?  Obviously, you need to keep in touch with all your members.

Don't oversell but do show up consistently for your members!

Think strategically when communicating with your external stakeholders - they identified 3 key best practices.  And don't be afraid to ask them how they want to communicate with your chamber.

1. Create a remote communications document based on:

  • What do they already know, and what resources do they already have?
  • What do they want from your chamber?
  • What do you want them to know, what do you need them to know?

2. Communicate with empathy, support and resiliency:

  • And listen to your members, ask how you can help, and deliver on that ask if you can.

3. Fine-tune your voice for remote communications:

  • How people interpret what you say in person - body language 55%, vocal 38%, words 7%.
  • What is the key for remote communications?  Listening is the key!

They went on to remind us of some best practices when conducting online meetings.

Effective Online Meeting Tips

  • Your virtual meetings should have a facilitator, chat monitor and tech support.  Match your tech tools with the speaker and participant skill sets.

During your online meeting:

  • Start by a soft opening to let people get comfortable, (i.e. ask a quick question, tell folks to mute their audio, etc.).
  • Create a visual focal point; and
  • Signal your turns - you want people to stay with you, especially online.

For resources on virtual meeting platforms go HERE.

They ended with a recommendation for a great read - Can You Hear Me, by Nick Morgan.

5 Steps to Crisis Recovery Planning

I recently attended a webinar on the title of this blog post presented by Pam Green, pamelajgreen.com, and the following comments are from her talk and PPT.

Stages of a Crisis

  • Warning
  • Risk Assessment
  • Response
  • Management
  • Resolution
  • Recovery

Each group needs to define where you are in the above stages and respond accordingly.  In the Covid-19 we’re in the two steps forward and one step back.

 

Focus on how you must change to do business not the “hole” of the pandemic.  What can you do to keep your chamber relevant?

 

The Leader’s Role in a Crisis:

  • Lead decisively – don’t be afraid to fail forward.
  • Frame and reframe the crisis – curate all the new information you can to make appropriate decisions.
  • Actively communicate – internally and externally with your stakeholders.  You want to be the go-to resource at the local level.
  • Flexibility – maintain a mindset of being radically flexible and prepare for the unexpected.
  • Credible intelligence – consider multiple viewpoints from the right sources.  As stated earlier, think being a curator on the information.

The discussion was fascinating!

 

5 Steps to Successful Crisis Recovery

  1. Recognize – is it over?  Or are we going to have to deal with this all over again?
  2. Recalibration – think about where you want to focus your program of work moving forward.  This might be a good time to kill some sacred cows.  For a blog post on that subject go HERE.  It’s important to be focused on the new normal in delivering value through the right technologies.
  3. Repair – articulate a communication strategy for your key stakeholders.
  4. Redirect – communicate more, not less, accentuate the positive, share best practices and resources that are out there.
  5. Reinvigorate – focus, focus, focus on value.  Deliver value to your members, they need it now more than ever!

She ended with authenticity and genuine concern for your members are priceless!  People will go with you if you’re authentic and genuine in dealing with the issue at hand.  It’s Covid-19 today, it will be something else on another day.

 

For more resources on crisis management go HERE.

Setting up a Covid-19 Task Force is a Proactive Strategy

How do we anticipate and adapt to the current Covid-19 situation? Roy McGrath, IOM and Michael Gellman, CPA conducted a webinar on creating task forces as a proactive strategy.

A place to start is to manage your focus, expertise and deliverables on a specific task.  If you do, that will lead to your outcomes.

 

Public health vs economics are the two key areas most chambers are focusing on right now for their small business members and the community at large.

 

They went on to talk about the different uses of task forces in these Covid-19 times:

 

Task Forces can be set-up to:

  • Help give advice on internal changes at your organization (strategic planning, etc.)
  • Reopening guidance for your small business members.
  • How you will conduct future events for your chamber members based on the latest information from the local and state health care professionals.
  • Safe work environment for chamber staff when they re-engage back in the office.

They gave some best practices advice you should think about when forming a task force:

  • The task force should be expert-driven, and it should have external partners.
  • It’s key to set expectations for the task force with clear roles and duties of its members (3-5 task force members).
  • Task forces give advice and information and have no direct authority or approval functions, that’s the role of your board.
  • Keep each task force focused on their specific issue and not stray from that task.
  • Task forces should report to CEO and then secondarily the executive committee.
  • Communications should be clear both ways.
  • Weekly meetings might be a place to start.  You can adjust as you move forward.
  • Set a 90-day task force period with the option to extend if needed.
  • Transparency and messaging is key from senior management of the chamber.  It’s about telling your story!

They ended with reminding those participating that the four key points of a task force:

  1. Resource to your chamber;
  2. Can be nimble;
  3. A team of specialists; and
  4. It’s your consulting team to provide solutions.

A task force can help you manage through these unprecedented times.  Set-up your task force/s today!

Board Selection: What’s Your Role?

If you’re like most other chambers you’re selecting one sixth of your board each year.  That statement is based on a typical board appointment of two years, renewable for three terms.

Does that sound familiar?

Ok.  Now what role do you play in identifying or selecting new board members.

I’ve written many times in the past that you want three things from a board member:
  • Passion
  • Intellect
  • Money
The other piece of the puzzle that many have written about in the past is getting the right skill-set on your board.  I couldn’t agree more!

What does that mean?

In the simplest of terms, do you have a lawyer, CPA, educator, transportation expert, workforce, economic development and technology experts, etc. on your board?  Do you have diversity as it relates to size of businesses, geography, ethnic and yes, all age groups in the workforce (Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y and now Gen Z)?  All can contribute and play a vital role in the conversation.

The more diverse your board the greater the conversation.  Embrace it!

Now back to your role in identifying and selecting new board members.  If you don't, you should have a file in your desk drawer of potential new board members.  Are you grooming new board members by asking them to serve on committees or task forces first?  If not, you should.  What a great training ground for future board participation.

What you don’t want is a board made up of what I’ll call, “friends of friends.”  Whether you’re officially on the nominating committee or not, you at least can fill the pipeline with quality candidates.

That’s the CEO’s role, at a minimum, in the volunteer selection process.  For more information on board management go HERE.

Good luck!

Chairman/CEO Partnership

Yes, I said partnership in the title.  At the end of the day, if you don’t have a partnership with your chief volunteer, you’re not in a good place.  Not for you and not for the organization.

We all know that the board, led by the Chairman, sets the policy and direction of your chamber, but it is the CEO that implements that policy with his or her staff.

The strength of the relationship between the Chairman and CEO will have a direct impact on the success of the chamber and its program of work.  You must have open and regular communication with your board Chairman.

And then there’s – Trust!

Without it you will have no partnership.  You must both come from a place where you trust each other.  You both need to be accountable for the work of the chamber and its success!

The CEO gets a new Chairman every year.  And each year that can bring new challenges and opportunities in the relationship between the two.

The Chairman and CEO should always stay focused on the two being aligned, focused and share the same vision for the Chamber.

For resources on the Chairman/CEO partnerships go HERE.

Elements of Good Governance

I was recently reading the 2020 ASAE’s Board Brief and was fascinated by the chapter on governance and the research done by their Foundation on the subject matter.

The data’s interesting and they broke it down into the following areas:

Policies and Procedures – make sure your manuals are well documented and followed.

Structure and Function – what is the size of your board and is it working as well as how man board meetings are you conducting a year?

Diversity Goals – do you have a plan and are you tracking your progress?

Self-assessment – are you surveying your board members and asking how they feel about their participation and effectiveness?

Performance Evaluation – do you have a formal reporting mechanism to your board or membership of the results?

Goal Setting – do you set goals (think scorecards) as a way of tracking your goals?

Preparation and Training – are you conducting that board orientation for new board members outlining their responsibilities: Duty of Care, Loyalty and Obedience (which I’ve written about before and can be found HERE)?  And are you giving outside training on how to read a nonprofit’s financial statements?

For the original source for the article go HERE.

Foresight vs Strategic Planning

I’ve read a lot about this recently and I think I’ve finally put my head around the difference.

ASAE has a website dedicated to the subject matter and it is a term that has surfaced, at least in my association management reading, in the last 5 plus years.

For me, in a nutshell, foresight is an exercise in trying to identify what the future will look like for your organization.

Many chambers are doing the 2025 or 2030 scenarios with interesting results.  In other words, think what could it be?

Strategic Planning is the process of analyzing the current landscape, through and environmental scan, a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis, and determining a set of goals, strategies and tactics, usually 1-3 or 3-5 years out, on achieving those goals.

Most of us are just trying to get through the day with the limited resources we have but I would suggest that if you spent the time, with a facilitated board retreat, you too would benefit of looking to the future.

I’m sure by now you’ve all read the ACCE’s Horizon Initiative: Chambers 2025?  Well that’s just around the corner.  It’s time to do the 2050 exercise.

For more information on the Foresight work by ASAE go HERE.

Are Your Emails Really Member-focused?

I recently attended a webinar led by Bill Graham, Graham Corporate Communications and Institute for Organization Management faculty member.

He started with the concept that you need to focus on what your members are worried about and connect your email to their world.

Bill always reminds his audiences that communication is not speaking or sending emails, those are activities.  "Communication is a result; it's what you get into their head."  “Think of communication as a one-way street. Nobody has to listen.”

He went on to talk about specifics as it relates to the subject line, introduction, body and the close of your email.

Subject line: It’s the penthouse of the email real estate, the most valuable, so find a unique perspective that engages the receiver.

Introduction: Your first words matter because they see them on your phone, so be personable, respectful, friendly and helpful.  Focus on them not you.

Body: Focus like a trusted advisor, not like a salesperson.  You are taking up their time.  It should be worth their time, not worth your time.

Close: With a “Call to Action” - if they got to the end, they want an action step, so ask them to: attend a meeting, make a decision, attend a conference call, etc.

He also gave us some general email rules to follow:

  • More is seldom more;
  • Positives turn on, negatives turn off;
  • Simple is memorable, complex is forgettable;
  • Avoid cliches, they always sound like autopilot; and
  • Be personable and comfortably friendly...at a respectful distance.

Some general tips throughout his presentation that he gave that I had to write down because I think they are repeatable:

  • Before you speak...WAIT - ask yourself: "Why Am I Talking!
  • Change your pronouns to: you/your, or even: they/their.  Using first person pronouns: I/my/we/our, is talking about your world, not their world.
  • Are you a trusted advisor?

The final bullet, in my opinion, was his main message - “are you a trusted advisor?”

Bill suggests you’re a trusted advisor if you:

  • Engage with your members;
  • Ask questions and listen to your members;
  • Are interested in your member’s needs; and
  • You focus on long-term relationships...not short-term gains.

In closing, and focusing on the suggestions from Bill Graham and the title of this blog post, your emails should focus on the following:

  • Subject Line - engage the receiver.
  • Introduction - focus on them…they see the first few words.
  • Body - be a trusted advisor and focus on their world, their results: reasons, motives and goals.
  • Close - end the email with a “Call to Action.”

If it’s not about their world...it’s likely not communicated...it’s just NOISE.

Be a trusted advisor and keep your emails member-focused!

Good Board Governance - Part II

Now let’s have a discussion about the difference and importance of both indemnification and director and officers insurance.

Indemnification - most if not all organizations indemnify their board of directors for any financial liability for serving on the board.  The indemnification clause usually is stated in the bylaws.

It also goes without saying that the board member will be indemnified as long as he or she did not do anything illegal or acted in bad faith.

Check your bylaws to see if your chamber board members are indemnified.

Director and Officers Insurance - most know this as D&O insurance which protects your board members from any lawsuits concerning legal activities.  And it is common knowledge that these claims and lawsuits are generally employee based.

And as stated in The Perfect Board book on page 80, these types of claims or lawsuits can be wrongful termination, sexual harassment, copyright/trademark infringements to name a few.

The bottom line, make sure you have the indemnification clause in your bylaws and you are providing (any paying) for D&O insurance.

For a legal resource go HERE.

Good Board Governance

In my opinion, and in the opinion of many, the fundamentals of good board governance starts with duty of care, duty of loyalty and duty of obedience that each member of your board must understand.

For a quick review:

Duty of Care - as a board member it is imperative that you do your homework on the board materials prior to the meeting so you can fully participate in the discussion and make informed decisions.

Duty of Loyalty - as a board member you must take your business hat off and put the hat of the organization on and do what’s best for the organization, not your business.

Duty of Obedience - as a board member you must stay true to the mission of the organization and not get involved in things that are not part of your articles of incorporation  or bylaws.

Speaking of bylaws, that is the governing document that your board and members must follow.

The other legal aspects of a board and their governance process that must be followed are the adherence of a quorum for each meeting, a process to conduct those meetings, and the creation of minutes of the meeting to reflect the boards intent in setting policy for the organization.  And by the way, the handling and storage of those minutes.

Quorum - as stated in your bylaws, but usually it is a majority of the total number of board members (i.e., if you have a board of 21, then 11 would make a quorum.  If you don’t have a quorum, you can’t do business as a board and you must cancel the meeting.

Roberts Rules of Order - it’s important to have order when conducting board meetings to stay focused on point and your agenda.  Most boards use the Roberts Rules of Order in conducting their meetings.

Minutes - the official recording of the meeting which should start with the date, time and location of the meeting.  Remember, it is not necessary to capture every word that is spoken during the meeting.  It is important to identify who is in attendance and who is not.  Report on the discussion of a particular agenda item and any action (vote) that took place.  And by the way, those minutes need to be kept indefinitely since they are an official document of your organization.

If the above items are not understood by every board member, it is imperative that you conduct regular board orientations to remind your directors of their role and responsibilities.  I would have something in writing that they can take home that they can use as a reminder during their board tenure.

A fully informed board of directors of their role and responsibilities are critical to the success of your organization.

Review your orientation documents today!

For resources on good board governance go HERE.

The Trim Tab Concept in Leadership

There have been many articles written over the years, on the “trim tab” affect in leadership, and how it can transform your organization.

Peter Senge talks about it in his book The Fifth Discipline but it is widely known that Buckminster Fuller coined the term, when it relates to leadership, many years before.

As written in Wikipedia, “Trim tabs are small surfaces connected to the trailing edge of a larger control surface on a boat or aircraft, used to control the trim of the controls, i.e. to counteract hydro- or aerodynamic forces and stabilise the boat or aircraft in a particular desired attitude without the need for the operator to constantly apply a control force. This is done by adjusting the angle of the tab relative to the larger surface.”

The bottom line, and my translation, small well focused actions you take can make a big difference in your chambers.

Think about an entire ship being moved by 1% of its mass.  The small trim tab on a ship can make it turn completely in the opposite direction while maintaining a stable environment.

Or said another way, change can be implemented by small step/s.

For more information on the trim tabs metaphor in leadership go to the Buckminster Fuller Institute HERE or HERE.

The Art of Negotiation

At a recent seminar I attended on the art of negotiation, Steve Piacente and Carol Buckland with The Communication Center gave many tips on how to be an effective communicator.

They started with defining the five core concepts of communication.

  • Be Clear
  • Be Concise
  • Be Compelling
  • Be Candid
  • Be Comfortable

In addition, when giving a presentation, know your audience, frame it so they hear you.  Storytelling is an effective way of communicating your message.

Persuasive communication is based on reason, emotions and beliefs/values.

As stated above, frame your message so your intended audience is interested in what you have to say.

The word “because” is powerful, it gives the reasons why they should hear your message.

In other words, remember the WIIFM theory.  "What’s in it for me."

They then referenced Dr. Robert Cialdini’s six principals of influence:

  • Reciprocity
  • Commitment and Consistency
  • Social proof/consensus
  • Liking
  • Authority
  • Scarcity

They also referenced a study by UCLA professor Dr. Albert Mehrabian that states the percentages word choice, voice tone and body language have when you are communicating in an in-person conversation.  These numbers are probably not what you expected.

  • Word Choice - 7%
  • Voice Tone - 38%
  • Body Language - 55%

To sum it up, be intentional when selecting your words, use voice and the use of pauses effectively and don’t forget the most important, body language (posture, eye contact, smile).

They then went into the five different negotiating styles.

  • Competitive - I win, you lose.
  • Accommodating - I lose, you win.
  • Compromising - we both win and lose some.
  • Avoiding - I lose, you lose.
  • Collaborating - I win, you win.

They gave two examples of presentation formulas and I was reminded of one I’ve used over the years.

I learned the UPPOPR method over 30 years ago from a manager who was Xerox’d trained.  For a copy of that template go HERE or for a blog post on the subject go HERE.

They spent a little time on story formulas, and go HERE for a past blog post on that subject.

They finished talking about language of leadership and separated that discussion into two areas - weak and power speak.

Weak speak - saying “I think” vs “I know” or “I feel” vs “I am convinced.”

Power speak - use straightforward language, without jargon, and keep your communications short and to the point.

Good luck in your next conversation!