Moving From an Anniversary to a Calendar Year Dues Cycle

by Linda Owens, CAE, Owner and President

Are you a smaller non-profit that is spending lots of time and energy on anniversary dues billing each month? Switching to a calendar year dues cycle could save staff a lot of time!

Have you considered these benefits to moving to a calendar year dues cycle?

  • Aligns your organization’s budget and activity year with the budget and activity years of your members.
  • Smooths your organization’s cash flow throughout the budget year.
  • Improves the accuracy of your organization’s budget since the dues revenue is typically received in the first three months of the year. If dues are not received as expected, then the organization has the remaining nine months of the year to reevaluate expenses.
  • Saves staff time with handling dues billing once a year vs. twelve times throughout the year.

Once the decision is made, how do you notify your membership?

  • Send an email or letter to each member notifying them of the change. Be sure to include an outline of how this decision will benefit the organization.
  • Give your members options on how to transition to the new dues cycle.
    • A single payment: pay a pro-rated amount for the remainder of the current calendar year along with the annual dues for the next calendar year.
    • Two payments: pay a pro-rated amount for the remainder of the current calendar year and be invoiced for the annual dues for the next calendar year.

A calendar year cycle has been more common among smaller non-profits while anniversary-based dues cycles are more common among individual membership organizations. Calendar year cycles tend to align with an organization’s fiscal year and are easier for a small staff to manage since billing takes place during a specified span of time vs. all year, freeing the staff to focus on other management tasks. Are you interested in learning more about what IMI can do for your non-profit? Email me at for more information.

3 Ways to Know When to Bring Your Donations Appeal In-House

by Caroline Behe, Account Manager, and Keith Williams, Account Manager

Getting ready to plan your next fundraising appeal and looking to save some costs? With mailing lists totaling in the thousands, it can be quite daunting to think about printing, stuffing, and mailing out your appeal letters from your office. But, at the same time, the cost savings could be a real boon.

So how do you know when it’s time to do your appeal in-house and how do you know when to stick with your third-party creative design and print team?

Before you bring your appeal in-house, consider the following:

  • You must have the internal resources – both the creative and technical experience – to create and execute the appeal in-house.
  • The physical cost savings may be there, but did you factor the investment of staff time? Also consider that sometimes managing a third-party can be as time consuming as doing it yourself.

If you have determined that you have the internal resources and staff time to bring the appeal process in-house, then consider the following:

  • The costs of hiring a professional communications company may not be justified. We sometimes do what we have done because we have always done it that way. Analyze the ROI. After looking at the numbers more closely, we came to understand that we were spending too much compared to what we were taking in. We were able to decrease costs by 2/3 and increase total donations by 45% by managing the appeal in-house.
  • The ability to target letters, e-mails, and social media to make the message more personal may be easier than working through a third-party. We were nimbler with our messages as we were able to be responsive to what we saw happening in real time. For example, if you see your social media posts creating more donations, you can quickly purchase more Facebook ads or post more on your preferred social media platforms.
  • Adding a personal touch is easier. Each letter touched the hands of our staff which means the Executive Director personally signed each letter. When needed, a letter also included a handwritten note.

There is so much to consider when doing an appeal. You have a limited number of times you can contact your donors for financial support so you want each of those times to be their best.  You should look at each appeal letter opportunity to see what works best at that point in time for you. Don’t shy away from your own internal skills and abilities! 

If you’d like assistance with your donations appeals, IMI Association Executives can help! Our expert staff will assist you with everything you need to run a successful campaign. Contact us today.

Why Ideas Are Like Spaghetti Noodles

by Clint Owens, Owner, Vice President, and IT manager

As we go along each day at work, great, innovative ideas come to mind. However, we dismiss them or don’t share them with someone because we’re scared the idea might not stick. That great idea has succumbed to fear and starts to slip away, we fall back into our comfort zone of just doing what we always have done and we let a great idea fall to the wayside. My advice? Treat your idea like a spaghetti noodle.

Let me explain.

Growing up, my best friend Jim’s mother, Millie, was an amazing cook. Millie made her spaghetti noodles, bread, and sauces from scratch. The first time I went to my friend’s house for dinner, Millie was making spaghetti. I was sitting at the kitchen table with Jim and his brother and I noticed Millie pull a noodle from the boiling water and throw it against the wall behind the stove. I watched Mille do this three or four times. Being inquisitive, I asked Millie, “Why are you throwing the noodles against the wall?” Millie said, “When the noodle is cooked perfectly, it will stick to the wall.” So, like any other 12-year-old boy, I asked, “Can I throw one?” I actually threw two. The second noodle did stick and we all had a good laugh.

As strange as it may seem, ideas can be like the spaghetti Millie used to make. When a great idea comes to mind, let it simmer, then throw it against the wall to see if it will stick. Don’t allow discomfort and fear to undercook your ideas.

Wondering how you’re going to execute your great idea? Contact IMI Association Executives! We specialize in assisting associations turn their great ideas into reality.

Seven Tips For Webinar Speakers

by Christine Wilks, Account Associate

So, your professional association has asked you to do an educational webinar for its members. Some people can deliver a killer in-person presentation but are very uncomfortable when it comes to presenting to an audience they can’t see. I’ve compiled a few webinar presenter tips that will help ensure that you are equipped to deliver an amazing and memorable presentation.

1. Know Your Audience

Speak the language of your audience. When preparing your webinar presentation, know who will be watching the webinar – companies, organizations, specialties, etc. This will allow you to tailor your presentation so it is valuable and relatable to your attendees. 

2. Prepare the Presentation

The webinar should address ONE topic. Do not try to cram too much into a webinar, you will lose your learner and will simply run out of time. Avoid a “death by PowerPoint” presentation. Don’t just read the slides! If you use a PowerPoint, the slides should be prompts on points you need to cover to keep your presentation flowing. With your slides, ensure there is something new to look at every minute or so on the screen. Use powerful images in your presentation that align with your content to keep the audience’s attention.   

A great way to include multiple engagement opportunities with webinar attendees to keep them entertained are polls. Create and provide to your facilitator one or two polls to be conducted during your presentation and have attendees enter their answers in the chat box. Some platforms even provide in-time results on the screen.

3. Write down an outline or create a script

The script is a valuable tool to keep you on track and prevent you going on tangents that could cost you time. Scripts should include when to ask webinar attendees a question or request that they answer a poll. To go even further, include when to take a breath and/or pause and also when to advance the slides (especially if you have more than one speaker). This visual cue will keep you in check if you start speaking too quickly or when to change presenters or slides. Here’s an example introduction script from one of my recent webinars:

In recognition of National Nursing Week, today’s webinar is brought to INACSL members at no cost.


For those of you who may be new to INACSL, it is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote, research and disseminate evidence-based practice standards for clinical simulation methodologies and learning environments.  This webinar is one example of how INACSL aims to meet its vision as Nursing’s portal to the world of clinical simulation pedagogy and learning environments. 



Highlight sections that are important to add a little extra energy. With a solid webinar script, you will sign into the webinar fully prepared and ready to go without any hesitations on where to begin. Having said this, don’t let the script make you a robot. Even if you are nervous, keep working to channel the verbal and physical qualities that are unique to you. Audiences want personality! Do not be afraid to let yours come through. You need not to sound scripted or robotic to be an effective speaker.

4. Make sure your facilitator (or host) schedules a practice session

This is the time for mistakes! If your facilitator does not offer a practice session, ask for one. Practice sessions are crucial for a successful webinar. I always schedule a first practice session about a week before the live or final recording session. Scheduling within this timeframe allows speakers to ask questions, correct any timing issues or make edits to the slide presentation before going live. Other benefits of a practice session:

  • It provides an opportunity to train on the platform. Whether it is how to advance your PowerPoint slides, type a question in the chat or mute yourself. Without proper preparation and training before a webinar, you may be confused if you are not familiar with their webinar platform. For optimal sound quality, use audio through the computer (VoIP), with a USB headset with microphone to avoid creating feedback/echoing during your presentation. If you consider yourself “technically-challenged” do not hesitate to ask for multiple training sessions until you have it down.
  • You and the facilitator will have time to review the agenda and objectives of the webinar content to ensure it aligns with the text on the webinar registration page and that it fulfills the objectives. If there are other speakers, you will have the chance to generate some chemistry.
  • Do a dry-run of the entire presentation including the introduction and conclusion. This is especially important if the facilitator or another speaker has prepared them to see if the content is long enough to last the entire length of the webinar, to get you comfortable with your pace, to test the slides, and to determine if and how much time there will be for Q&A.

Sometimes our anxiety can build up and we forget how to pronounce a word or we lose our train of thought. Practicing your presentation can help ensure that you are ready.

Expect at least a few hiccups and be prepared for them. Don’t panic if technical difficulties pop up. If you misspeak or accidentally skip one of your points during the live session, don’t make a show of it. Sometimes it’s best to just keep going. 

5. Log in early

Request all key players of the webinar login to the webinar at least 30 minutes before attendees can log on to the webinar. Use this time to do a last review of the content, ensure your engagement tools are set-up, test the sound quality and check that the audio is working. For those who are used to speaking in front of an audience, consider having another person or two in the room. If your webcam is set up on your monitor, have a person sit directly behind it – looking at them will appear you are making eye contact with the viewers. Also, standing up to present (with the right headset to ensure audio quality) can ease you if you are more used to in-person events. Always keep your microphone muted when you are not speaking. Any other presenters, panelists and even the facilitator should do so as well.

6. Game time! 

Before the webinar begins, here are some effective preparations for the best staging:

  • If you are doing the webinar from a home office, ensure that your children, pets, neighbors, etc., won’t interfere or make any noise during the live webinar. Alternatively, if you are doing the webinar from a work office, find a quiet room with a door where you won’t be disturbed. I’ve found putting up a sign saying, “Live webinar in the process, please keep your voices down.” to be effective.
  • Close all your windows, browsers and tabs, leaving only the webinar browser tab open.  Turn off your cell phone, email and IM apps on your computer to eliminate potential disruptions. 
  • Have a glass of water or other beverage close to you without ice. You may need a quick sip and the microphone will pick up the clinking of the ice.
  • Select a nice solid colored shirt to wear the day of the webinar, preferably not black.
  • Ensure that whatever is shown behind you on the webcam screen is neat and tidy. Eliminate any pictures on the wall that may be considered unprofessional.
  • Ensure there is a light set-up behind you. This makes everyone look better on webcam.
  • If you are using a portable webcam, make sure you have the best angle on the camera, so it’s not too low or not too high. Ask your facilitator to provide feedback on your position on the webcam: too close will look strange, and too far away will be hard for the audience to see you.

7. After the webinar

A best practice is to offer your contact information to webinar registrants to be able to reach out directly to ask questions. If your facilitator is encouraging or mandating participants to submit evaluations of your presentation, ask for a copy of the results. Evaluations, especially if the respondents are anonymous, provide excellent feedback to improve your next presentation!

Do you need assistance in running your association’s webinars? Contact IMI Association Executives to see what we can do for you!

What We’re Reading

by Linda Owens, CAE, Owner and President

IMI team members are always reading leadership and association management related blogs. Here are some of the posts we found interesting during 2019:

The Number-One Productivity Hack: Timeboxing
A study reveals today’s most powerful productivity strategy, and it’s perfect for planners.

How to Bear (and Be the Bearer of) Bad News
Whether you’re giving bad news or getting it, people around you are bound to be upset. In those cases, a little empathy and self-awareness might go a long way.

How to Overcome Deadline Dread
Facing down strict deadlines can be stressful. Here’s how to ask for more time or resources to get things done.

Membership Hack: “Ask Me Anything” Calls
The Digital Analytics Association hosts a monthly call modeled off Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything” series. DAA members dial in to ask whatever is on their minds.

Secrets of Online Engagement
Successful online communities have the right people, technology, and strategies in place to spark member engagement, says Marjorie Anderson, founder of Community by Association and manager of digital communities at the Project Management Institute.

Master These 6 Strategies to Avoid Overcommit and Increase Your Productivity
At the core of productivity is focus. Great leaders know that saying yes to fewer commitments means they can create greater impact.

Reach Members on the Air with Podcasts
Podcasts are growing in popularity right now, and it could be a medium ripe for associations to recruit, retain, and engage members.

Spring Clean Your Routine: Four Ways to Boost Your Productivity
Don’t just focus on your closet or your file cabinet: Spend some time this season working on ways to minimize distractions while maximizing productivity.

3 Phrases That Matter When “Selling” Your Organization’s Membership

Words matter. If you’ve ever done any kind of marketing, you know that. And even as a consumer, you know that. Certain phrases just compel you to make a purchase.

Membership Hack: Onboarding Webinars
The International Coach Federation onboards new members using a live webinar to introduce them to key benefits and services. This early engagement opportunity also helps boost first-year retention.

Use a Content Calendar to Engage Members in 2019
The member experience ebbs and flows with activity throughout the year, which is why a content calendar can help you plan for member engagements in 2019. Here are a few tools and techniques to get you started.

Future Focus: When Looking Ahead, Talk to Members First
As part of an initiative to examine future forces shaping the corporate real estate profession, CoreNet Global spent time interviewing its members worldwide. The effort resulted in a new study forecasting industry trends that will affect members and the association by 2025 and beyond.

Watch Out: Email Mergers Are Heating Up
In the past year, a number of major email service providers—particularly, and most prominently, Campaign Monitor—have expanded via acquisition. What should associations know, and what are the pitfalls to avoid?

How to Create Marketing Personas for Your Association (and Use Them to Make Better Decisions)
What if I told you that there was a way to close that gap between this dream and the reality of your team’s resources and capacity? This is where your association’s marketing personas come in.

Leadership is about coaching. Here’s how to do it well
You can start with one simple behavior change that will bring a massive impact.

IMI Association Executives has been gaining knowledge since 1986. We provide turnkey, high-touch service to the not-for-profit community. Contact us today to see what we can do for you.

IMI Volunteer Project Inspires Future Service

By Meredith Parker, Account Associate

Earlier this year, we asked IMI Staff to complete the statement: “I love IMI because…” Responses were featured in our 32nd birthday celebration social media campaign. The below response struck a chord with me:

“I love IMI because we provide the highest level of client service, respect professional relationships, act with integrity, are innovative and creative, value individuals, and work with enthusiasm and enjoyment.”

These points were taken directly from the IMI Core Values and reading the response was a great reminder of who we are as a company: we see every person as a human being before anything else. Because we serve nonprofit organizations, our staff works daily to support people who are making the world a better place. Usually this means management support, but earlier last month, it took on a different meaning.

On Wednesday, August 8, the Fun Committee organized a group of 12 IMI Staff to go to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina for a two-hour volunteer shift. The Food Bank serves 34 counties which are divided into six regions. We volunteered at the Raleigh Region Distribution Center, which covers the counties where our staff works and lives. According to a report released by the Food Bank in 2017, 15.1 percent, or 265,360 people, of the population in the counties served by the Raleigh Branch is food insecure. This translates to one or two people in a group of 10 struggling with food security.

Our task was to sort through one-ton pallets of onions and potatoes and determine whether the vegetables were safe to eat. Safe vegetables were bagged for distribution to hungry families across our state while unsafe vegetables were thrown away. Within the IMI Staff group of 12, we broke into smaller groups of four. My group dug into our pallet, which contained onions that were caked in dirt and, in some cases, spotted with green, fuzzy mold.

This task was completely outside of the skillsets we use in the office, and we were truly humbled by our experience. The food we were sorting had come straight from the farm and looked nothing like what we see at the grocery store. We were struck by the difficulty of making food safe, evidenced by the dirt speckling our clothes and hiding under our nails at the end of our shift. It was definitely a challenge, but it was rewarding to make sure people in our community were receiving the best food.

In addition, through this experience, we grew closer as a team. During the time spent together, we talked through how to discern that produce was safe; made runs to the dumpster to throw away unsafe food or to grab more net bags; and recounted stories around the giant pallets. Our group was fueled by our seamless, cheerful collaboration, especially because we were outside of our typical context.

After our two-hour shift, we felt fulfilled when we look at the “fruits” of our labor and realized that we had helped sort 5,400 pounds of fresh produce, which will provide 4,547 meals to our community.

Humbled, Fulfilled, and fueled by our Collaboration, we agreed that we would like for IMI to contribute to our community through regular volunteer service. Last week, we established an IMI Service Committee so our staff can continue to live out IMI’s Core Values in our community. Reflecting on the past few weeks, I am grateful for my colleagues, people who work daily to serve others and still desire to do more.

Want to team up with IMI to complete service in the Triangle? Comment below or email me at



Staff Spotlight: Allison

By Breanna Appling, account associate

In this feature, we interview one of our fabulous team members to show a little spotlight on the staff that makes IMI great. Today we’re highlighting Allison Winter.

Originally from Greenville, NC, Allison has been gracing IMI with her bubbly personality and outgoing presence since 2013. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English with minors in Creative Writing and Journalism from NC State University. This month, Allison takes us all back to school and a time where getting a pimple was the end of the world. Check it out!

IMI: What was one of your most embarrassing moments in school? (elementary/ middle/ high school/ college).

Allison: I was very quiet in school, and I mostly kept to myself, which has prevented me from having any great, embarrassing stories to share later in life. However, if I had to pick one, it was when my AP U.S. History teacher in high school called me out in front of the entire class and said I’d be lucky if I made a 2 (out of 5) on the AP test. He picked on me throughout the year and, looking back, I think it’s safe to say he was a big believer in the blonde stereotype. So, needless to say, I was ecstatic when I got a 4 on my test and was able to count his class towards college credit!

IMI: What was your favorite teen show, movie, or book?

Allison: The two channels I stuck to in high school were the Disney Channel (shocker) and Turner Classic Movies (TCM). One rainy afternoon, my mom and I stumbled upon the movie Rebecca on TCM. It’s one of Alfred Hitchcock’s first movies and is an incredible thriller. I loved it, and I’ve been hooked on Hitchcock movies ever since! As far as books go, I was a total Harry Potter fan, and even went to the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

IMI: If you could give one piece of advice to your 16-year-old self what would it be?

Allison: Don’t take yourself so seriously, and don’t care so much about what other people think.

IMI: What is one thing that people would be surprised to know about you?

Allison: To keep with the school theme, I loved to dance back then, and I took ballet, tap, jazz, and modern. We performed the Nutcracker every year during the holiday season, and we always had a big production right before the start of summer vacation. My two favorite roles throughout the years were the Mirliton in The Nutcracker and Alice from Alice in Wonderland!

In more recent years, something that may be surprising is my husband, Cameron, and I are trying to live a “zero waste” lifestyle. I could talk about this for hours, but if you’re interested in learning more, then I’d highly recommend the book Zero Waste Home. It’s amazing!

IMI: What has been your favorite place to travel while working in AMC?

Allison: The Greenbrier, hands down! It’s a big, beautiful resort in West Virginia with a lot of history. Every inch of it was decorated by Dorothy Draper in her unique style, and it was such a treat to explore the property! Visiting The Greenbrier fulfilled a dream I had of staying there since middle school, and I still count myself so lucky to have gone there.


The first picture is Cameron and I in front of Notre Dame. Paris was our last stop on the month-long European adventure we took two summers ago!

The second picture is of the two of us at the first Georgia Bulldogs football game this past season. Yes, Cameron’s beard has grown exponentially since we moved to Georgia. Go Dawgs!

Want to know more about association management? Contact us at to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.