A New Career After 50 – Joining an AMC

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Lucy Kucmierz, account associate

They say most people change jobs more than ten times between 18 and 42. That was me! I have been a teacher, office manager and church facility manager. Those were just my paid jobs; on the side I raised three children and was involved with school and county PTAs. All the time I was learning and gaining more skills that I wanted to put to use. I went back to school and became a certified non-profit manager, but I still wanted something more. It seemed that an office routine was not challenging enough or using the skills that I had gained over my 30+ year career path. I had a choice to make: I could continue down the same path and not be challenged or find a new career that would challenge me and provide opportunity for growth. I chose the latter.

Changing jobs can be difficult, but changing careers can be a challenge. Before I could change careers I needed to evaluate what I liked about my current job and what I was truly good at. Then I thought about what I wanted in a new career. I came to the conclusion that I needed a job with flexibility, one that would provide me with a sense of accomplishment, be professionally fulfilling, make use of my current skills and allow me to grow in new areas. I enjoyed working in an office environment and with non-profit organizations, so I thought that was a good place to begin my search.

After months of looking and interviews someone recommended I consider IMI Association Executives. I met and interviewed with the president of IMI, Linda Owens, CAE, and was so impressed by what I saw happening in this company that I knew this is where I wanted to be. This was a place where I could use the skills I already had acquired and continue to learn new skills. Since becoming an account associate at IMI I have gained new skills, am continuously learning, and most of all I have become part of a group that encourages everyone to succeed. In addition, I always wanted to travel around the country and for our clients I have been able to visit Colorado, D.C., New Orleans, and Atlanta!

Every day when I get up, I look forward to coming to work because I know that a new adventure is waiting for me, whether it be talking to a member, solving a problem, planning a webinar, or learning a new database. This career change was the correct path for me to follow at this point in my life. If you’re looking for a challenging but rewarding career in non-profits, I hope you’ll consider association management. There’s nothing quite like it.


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

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Membership Renewals

membership renewals

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Stevie Kernick, owner emeritus and account manager

If your association’s membership year coincides with the calendar year then chances are that you are about to engage, or already are engaged, in the annual membership renewal cycle.

Let’s assume that the Membership Committee has already completed an assessment of the association’s dues structure and, if changes were approved, the membership was duly notified six months in advance of the effectiveness date.

Initiate your renewal campaign a minimum of 60 days before the end of the association’s membership year. For a large organization, the date might be 90 days prior to year-end.

Besides the necessary mechanics of preparing your AMS for the new dues year, updating the association’s hard copy renewal forms and new member applications, take time to define a strategy for retaining 100 percent of the current year’s members. It’s OK to be optimistic and to make this your goal.

Step one of your renewal strategy should include listing all of the association’s accomplishments from the current year. Depending on the goods and services provided, these successes could include total number of members for the current year, retention percentage, number of new members, conferences held and registration totals, webinars or other educational programs offered, papers produced and published, media recognition, legislative achievements, speaking engagements completed, financial successes, to name a few. Brag a little!

Move on to your step-by-step membership campaign. Think about your goals and expectations as you would any other marketing campaign for the association.  Consider using a grid that allows you to clearly see each step and quantify the results:

2016.11.22 membership chart

This grid should be expanded with multiple, scheduled touches until your retention goals are reached.

When considering the distribution method, be sure to include at least one old-fashioned, U.S. postal service mailing.  This will capture organizations (assuming organizational memberships) whose key contact for your association has left the company with emails to that person dumping into an unattended inbox.

Before deactivating those final non-renewed members, engage the entire Membership Committee and Board of Directors in a telephone campaign. Generate a script covering the key reasons for renewal and questions to pose during the call. Parse out the names and phone numbers of the remaining non-renewed members with a “contact by” date so you can assess the success of these calls.

The value of this personal contact cannot be overstated. In addition to the high touch approach this signals to the uncommitted member, it’s an opportunity for leadership to engage with members and learn about their needs and expectations of the association. If the reason for a non-renewal is because needs are not being met, that is a strong message back to the leadership that needs further review.

Whether or not a personal call results in a renewal, the value of the conversation can be, as they say, “priceless.”

Aim high and settle for nothing less!

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

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My First 90 Days at an AMC

2016.11.8 my first 90 days

By Meredith Parker, account associate

If I were being honest with you, I would have to admit that I had never heard of an Association Management Company (AMC) before I happened upon IMI Association Executives in my post-college job search.

I am the youngest member on the IMI staff; at the ripe old age of 22, I have just graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I will be the first to admit that I am still growing into my shiny, new adult shoes; however, I already feel that working at an association for the past 90 days has given me the type of fulfillment that I have always desired and will always crave in my daily work.

Ever since my childhood, I have completed countless hours of service through church, school, and various service organizations. When I first began college, I put so much pressure on myself to succeed academically that I did not take time for service work. After failing the third test in my Chemistry class, and expending countless hours of fruitless work on this subject, I had a life-affirming, crystallizing moment: I realized that I needed to find work that impassioned me and also for which I had an aptitude.

I quickly joined Student United Way, a volunteer organization on campus, and it felt like coming home. Completing service with this group allowed me to use my communication skills to connect with individual people and also helped me make a corner of the world a little better, a goal that has driven me for my entire life. I knew, then, that I wanted service to play a key role in my life.

I am thankful that the stars aligned and I was given the opportunity to work at IMI because it is founded upon the fundamental principle of service. In my work for my client, the International Lactation Consultant Association, my efforts serve to ameliorate global health through empowering lactation consultants to continue, improve, and expand their breastfeeding practice, which is the cause that excites me about coming to work every day. In addition, I have found an amazing community of like-minded, service-oriented individuals from which to learn. Since we are a company that manages many associations, everyone in our office has different work experiences and can offer unique insight into every topic from the best way to run a webinar to broader career advice. I feel like we are less a group of random people who happen to work together than a passionate, collaborative, caring community.

I am still a “spring chicken,” as we say in the South. As a fresh college graduate, I know that I have a lot to learn about being an adult, being an employee, and planning a career. It can be intimidating to look at the decades that I have in front of me and wonder how I can live my life to be fulfilling for me; however, instead of being afraid, I am excited. I think that IMI is a fertile field to plant my roots; I can’t wait to see how much I grow here.

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

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Preparing Your Financials for the End of the Year

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By Adrian Emerson, accounting associate

Preparing for the end of the year can be hard, especially as the office begins to empty for the holidays. What can you do to make your end of year be smoother? Start as early as you feasibly can. I recommend starting to prepare at the beginning of your fourth quarter. Waiting until the last minute can delay the process and you don’t want to start the new year off on the wrong foot.

Here is a list of items that you should look at during your fourth quarter that you will probably need at the end of the year.

The first thing you should look at is your budget for the remainder of the year. Look for any budget items that are still outstanding, like an unfinished project, or any items that you have overspent on that will need to be cut back on until the new year starts.

After looking at any outstanding budget items you should start pulling data to prepare your budget for the next year. When pulling data I recommend pulling a copy of the current year’s financials and at least one previous year’s financials for comparison of trends. While you are planning for the next year, you should also consider any large scale projects you wish to complete in the next year or future years and start budgeting for them. As well, you should also make a note of where you want to be financially at the end of the next year, such as if you want to have a certain amount of funds in savings.

Review Current Year Financials for Errors:
You should also internally review your financial statements for any potential errors or odd items that might need explaining. Any items that look off should be researched and corrected, if needed. You should also make sure you have all appropriate documents for all transactions, if required by your financial policies. While you are completing your review you should verify any deferred revenue or prepaid expenses and make sure you have the correct information regarding which year or period the item is for so that it is posted correctly when that year or period begins.

The next task is to make a list of all the 1099s and W-2s you will need to submit at the beginning of the next year. Remember these forms are based on payments made during the current year, not bills received. Once your list is complete you should verify that you have a copy of a W-9 or W-4 for each individual or organization. Any forms you are missing should be requested as soon as possible so you don’t miss the IRS submission deadline in January. I also recommend verifying the mailing address for any individual whom you haven’t made a payment to in over six months.

Researching CPAs:
If you don’t have a CPA or aren’t planning on using the same one you used last year, you should look into new options early. Various CPAs offer different tax preparation and financial review, preparation and auditing services. You should choose a CPA who offers the right services for your organization and get references and quotes up front. As soon as you select the right CPA for your organization, go ahead and have a contract written and verify what documentation the CPA will need to complete their services. You should have said documentation available to them as soon as possible, once the new year has begun.

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

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Tips for Creating a Successful Volunteer Program

Image Credit: Canva

Image Credit: Canva

Whitney Thweatt, CAE, account manager

These ideas are inspired by the session “Volunteer Management Super Story-Slam” at the ASAE Annual Meeting on Aug. 16, 2016, presented by Vivian Abalama, CAE; Liz Messner, IOM, CAE; Caitlin Couture, CAE; Trevor Mitchell, MBA, CAE; Lakisha Woods, CAE; Valerie Cammiso, CAE

Volunteering provides tremendous benefit to both the association and the volunteer. Volunteers gain leadership skills, build their resume, earn recognition from peers, work alongside industry experts and give back to the profession. Volunteers are often the first to hear about and help to formulate responses to changes in the industry. They are given the opportunity to work on projects that promote growth both personally and professionally.

Make sure your association provides an enriching volunteer experience.  Here are six quick tips to help you set up successful volunteer program.

  • Identify needs. Identify the areas in your association in which volunteers could be involved. There are some needs that would be better fulfilled by staff and others that the association would benefit from having volunteer participation.
  • Make sign-up easy. A volunteers’ time is valuable. Consider a volunteer portal that houses available opportunities and an online application.
  • Offer a variety of opportunities. Offer opportunities that have differences in duration, frequency and focus. Encourage potential volunteers to select positions that align with their interests, skills and availability.
  • Create a training program. Provide enough info for volunteers when they sign up so they can jump right in and have the information needed to participate.
  • Have consistency. Create templates to provide efficiency and consistency between committees.
  • Thank your volunteers. Send a postcard. Hold a leadership brunch and give out awards.
  • Celebrate National Volunteer Week.

For more tips on recruiting volunteers, check out the blog post, “Volunteers – At the Heart of Every Association.”

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

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How to Be a Better Negotiator

2016.9.30 better negotiator

Image Credit: Ben Rosett

By Lee Campbell, account manager

At IMI we put an emphasis on continuing education and learning about best practices in our industry. Recently, I attended the Meeting Planners International Carolina Chapter Meeting and had the chance to learn about “Naked Negotiating” from Deborah Gardner, CMP. Here are some great takeaways from that session.

Focus on best fit.

Instead of negotiating with vendors in the typical manner, aggressively seeking after only the cheapest prices, consider changing your approach to Negotia Dating instead. Try to determine if the partnership is the “right fit” for the overall goal.

Know your needs.

When negotiating, keep in mind your needs and priorities. Gardner says to follow this Formula to Good Negotiating and know:

  • What are your “Must Haves”
  • What would you “Like to Have”
  • What are your “Tradables”

Determine these items before meeting with your vendor. It can be helpful for you to see a straightforward list of what you’re willing to negotiate on and what you’re not willing to give up. It will also help your vendor understand your needs and desires – and to see that you are flexible in some areas. This will open the relationship to a win-win partnership for all parties to be successful in getting what they need.

Have more than one plan.

Gardner suggests you practice “MOONing” – be ready with Multiple Offers Of Negotiation. Offer something new and different from what is expected. This will keep the negotiating game moving instead of coming to a stalemate. Thinking outside the box can bring new opportunities.

Here’s one more great tip I learned. We all keep a close eye on our room block to avoid those dreaded attrition fees. What if there is more you can do to help sell your unused room blocks? Consider using https://www.roomertravel.com/ service to sell unused room blocks.  Yes, there is a small cost to use this service, but is much less than paying attrition.

Do you have other negotiating tips? Share with us in the comments.

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

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Staff Spotlight: Hannah Abernethy

Staff spotlight

In this new feature, we ask our team members some quick, fun questions to show a little spotlight on the staff that makes IMI great.

Hannah Abernethy

HannahAccount Associate

My favorite aspect of association management is:

  • Working with clients from all over the world!

My favorite blogs:

  • Travel blogs

My media mix:

  • New York Times for news, This American Life and Criminal for podcasts, and lately I’ve been into my Bachata radio station through iTunes!

What I’m reading:

  • Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal (aka Harry Potter and the Sorcer’s stone in Spanish); I’m Neither Here, nor There, by Patricia Zavella

Who to follow on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram:

  • Catsofinstagram!

What I do when not at work:

  • Go to the gym, take strolls with my husband to the nearest ice cream shop, and plan my next big trip!

If I weren’t in association management, I’d:

  • Be a traveler blogger!

Favorite quote:

“Come, my friends,

‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.

Push off, and sitting well in order smite

The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds

To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths

Of all the western stars, until I die.”

Ulysses, by Lord Alfred Tennyson (Nerd Alert!)

For more about Hannah, don’t forget to check out her full bio on the IMI website!

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

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Strategies for a Better Board: Pre-nomination

2016-8-24 better board

Image Credit: Benjamin Child

By Rachel Owen, communications manager

One of the great things about working for an AMC (association management company) is being able to tap into the personal strengths and unique experiences of the other association management professionals within the company. At IMI, we encourage this benefit by intentionally scheduling brainstorming meetings to share ideas across the account teams.

Recently, the IMI account managers discussed methods they’ve used in new board member training to build a stronger, more productive board and the consensus was clear:

Building a stronger board of directors starts long before your board members are sworn in.

Here are some of the strategies for a stronger board shared by the IMI team.

Be Strategic

Consider creating a Leadership Development Committee to identify and recruit strong candidates for the board. Although current board members can and should be involved in preparing for the next board cycle, the task of recruitment ideally should be handled by a separate team in order to allow the current board to remain focused on the high level strategic items of the organization.

The Leadership Development Committee should keep the mission and vision of the organization in mind as they search for candidates. Where the organization wants to go will determine what you will need to get there. Are there any important skill sets that aren’t currently represented on board? Perhaps your board needs a legal perspective, financial specialist, a vendor voice or an industry expert. A successful board of directors often has a variety of skills and personality types represented – but all dedicated to a common purpose.

Conduct Pre-board Training

Once you’ve identified potential board members, think outside the box for pre-board training. Consider conducting a webinar for all potential board members. The webinar can be formal or informal, but should describe the responsibilities of board members (more on this below). Be sure to allow time for a Question & Answer session with current board members or brief testimonials of their experiences serving on the board for that “insider” perspective.

The informational webinar could be opened to the entire membership to help members understand what their association does and how they can be a part. During the webinar, take a few minutes to highlight other volunteer opportunities within the organization. Not everyone will be a good fit for the board, but everyone can volunteer.

Set Expectations

As you connect with potential board members and conduct pre-board training, be sure to discuss expectations such as:

  • Time commitment – How much time is expected from board members each week?
  • Availability – Are your meetings face to face or a conference call? Be sure to disclose if travel is required and how many meetings a board member is expected to attend.
  • Job description – A clear job description outlining the actual duties involved as a board member will help you connect with more promising candidates.

Being clear and upfront about responsibilities can reduce the chance of false starts and underperforming board members.

What are your strategies for a stronger board? Share with us in the comments below!

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


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Strong Volunteers, Strong Associations

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By Rachel Owen, communications manager

Whether your organization is knee deep in “conference season” or in that brief quiet moment before ramping up membership renewals, chances are that you’re thinking about volunteers.

We know that associations are built on volunteers – they’re the heart of any association. Volunteers, along with staff and board members, move the association forward every day.

Here are some tips to build a stronger, more engaged association through volunteers.

Go slow to go fast. It takes time and thoughtful strategy to create a great volunteer base. Take a step back to really survey the landscape and consider your organization’s culture. What worked in the past, with different resources and different volunteers, might not work now.

Read: What to Consider When Re-organizing Volunteers

Create a strong leadership team. Building strong teams takes time and energy – and it starts at the top. Look for leaders that invest in each person’s strengths and work to build better relationships. Leaders are often the first point of contact for volunteers, so make sure your leaders are ready to build a great team.

Read: Creating Strong Leadership Teams

Engagement is really about learning what makes your volunteers tick. This will help you plug volunteers in where they will get the most personal satisfaction – and keep contributing. Keep why they volunteered in the forefront. Read:

Create a volunteering culture. Volunteering is for everyone! Make sure there are a variety of opportunities available to fit every skill and interest level. Promote an atmosphere of generosity – and generously praise those who give their time and skills. Don’t underestimate the power of positive reinforcement.

Read: Create a Culture of Givers

Let your volunteers be the voice. There’s a reason why businesses look for customer testimonials: there’s nothing like the “insider” perspective. Encourage your volunteers to share their great experiences volunteering within the organization and the benefits they’ve received. Your volunteers who find their experience rewarding will be your organization’s best promoters.

Read: 514 Strangers, a guest post from Marc Aronson, quintessential volunteer, Property Records Industry Association (PRIA)

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

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IMI Gives Back! Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels - Group Pic

IMI staff volunteers (left to right): Kimber, Kelly, Courtney, Jessica G., Sabrina, Jadine, Sarah and Katesha.

By Linda Owens, CAE, owner, president

As an association management company serving nonprofits, we know that volunteers are the lifeblood of an organization. With this in mind, we encourage our staff not only to participate in professional associations (like AENC, ASAE) but also to be active volunteers in charitable nonprofits that support the community.

Recently, eight IMI staff members volunteered for Meals on Wheels. The local branch of Meals on Wheels has over 2,200 volunteers helping to “serve 1,300 noontime meals every weekday to the elderly, homebound and persons with disabilities of Wake County” (source). To find a Meals on Wheels near you visit their site.

Read about the Meals on Wheels experience from a few of the IMI volunteers below!

Sabrina Hunt: Meals on Wheels was an awesome experience. From the time we arrived, the Meals on Wheels staff made us feel welcomed and valued. They gave us snacks during our 10 minute training and made everything easy. We reviewed our routes, packed our coolers and insulated bags and we were out the door in what seemed like no time at all. They are a very well organized group of people.

Jadine and I had 7 stops on our route which were fairly close to one another. The people we delivered meals to were mostly women — they were very friendly, appreciative and amazing. One lady told us she just had her 102 birthday! Their smiles and general conversation said more than some people say all day. Thank you IMI for the experience and hopefully the opportunity to do it again soon!

Katesha Phillips: Meals on Wheels was a very humbling and rewarding experience. I have volunteered with them before and it felt great to be able to do it once again. All of my deliveries were within the same building. As my partner and I knocked on each door we were greeted by the recipients and/or their families who were all grateful for our service. It felt great putting a smile on someone’s face if only for that moment. I hope that we are able to volunteer with Meals on Wheels again as a company soon!

Sarah Gillian Carlton: The Meals-On-Wheel experience was really gratifying. We were able to help people who definitely needed us (not just the food, but the interaction!) and get it all done within 90 minutes. I think that we should do this more often, as a Team outing, or on our own- what a great way to make an impact in our community!

Courtney Smith: I think it is wonderful that IMI not only allows, but encourages, its staff to give back to the community! It was super rewarding to be able to donate my time alongside my colleagues.

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

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