Acronyms for Non-profits? YMMV.

2017-12-20 acronyms

By Rachel Owen, communications manager

Our world is increasingly full of shortcuts to get where we’re going faster and how we communicate is no exception to that trend. Slang, abbreviations and memes are very much a part of modern communication. Your organization’s culture will often determine if slang and memes are appropriate to use in communication with your members, but what about acronyms and other abbreviations?

Note: For the sake of brevity (see what I did there?), in this post “acronym” can refer to any type of abbreviation your organization might be considering. You can learn about abbreviations, acronyms and initialism here.

One trend I see with non-profits is a steady use of abbreviations. When naming a new product, service or feature, the tendency is to reach for an abbreviation first. Perhaps you even started with the acronym first and worked backwards to create the full name (a backronym).

While acronyms are handy for typing, our challenge in non-profits becomes knowing when they will be useful and valuable to our members.

Here are some things to consider before naming your next program.

Know your audience. Consider where you want to use the acronym. We all have shorthand that we may use with fellow staff and volunteers who are deep in the trenches, but for more general member-facing communications such as emails, newsletters or social media it’s best to use full titles. No one likes needing to ask, “What does XYZ mean?”

Consider “why” the term needs an abbreviation. Is the name of your program simply too long? You may be trying to do too much with the name. Are you working with a “legacy” title? It might be time to consider rebranding if it no longer fits with the current nature of the program or the culture of the organization.

Keep focus on the important things. We can acronym away things that matter. An organization that wants to increase awareness about a specific aspect of their efforts (international, multilingual, legislative, advocacy, integrity, technology, etc.) would benefit from letting those words stand out when naming their initiatives. For example, an organization that wants to increase awareness about its global efforts should promote their International Work Groups rather than “IWG.”

Beware “alphabet soup.” We’ve all experienced the confusion when multiple abbreviations in a document start to jumble together into “alphabet soup.” Acronyms can exclude some readers from your community, making it hard for them to feel a part of the organization. Practically, this means that the Super Cool Organization’s (SCO) Young Professionals Networking League (YPNL) may have difficulty drawing newcomers to their event (“Join us for SCO’s 2018 YPNL!”). Not only is alphabet soup hard on the eyes, but the purpose of the event is lost to anyone who isn’t familiar with the lingo or the context.

Watch out for a loss of clarity. If a photography non-profit organizes grant writing classes called Snapshot Funding (SNAFU) Workshops, they might find that attendees expect the class is about common photography mistakes.

Make your terms searchable. If you reference SNAFU in your promotions, be sure that a search of your website for “SNAFU” will bring up the Snapshot Funding Workshops. There’s nothing worse than wondering what an organization’s abbreviation means and getting zero results on their website.

Check your name with multiple sources. Always check that your desired name does not conflict with another company’s intellectual property. Also, make sure any abbreviations do not spell something inappropriate or ill-fitting for your organization.

Spell it out. If you decide an acronym is the right fit for your initiative, the first time the abbreviation is used in each document, article, or post always list the full name for clarity.

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.

 

IMI Team Member Receives AENC Scholarship

2015-11-24 Sabrina Award
Sabrina Hunt and Nancy Lowe (left to right)

By Lee Campbell, account manager

At IMI Association Executives we hold it as a key value to continue to advance our skill through professional development opportunities so we are able to better serve our clients. We also encourage our team to be involved in professional associations in order to learn from other like-minded individuals.

On Friday, November 20, 2015, IMI was pleased to send two team members to the Association Executives of North Carolina (AENC) Marketing & Communications Conference and Luncheon at the Raleigh Marriott Crabtree Valley. At the AENC meeting, one of our very own, Sabrina Hunt, was honored with the Operation Annual Meeting Scholarship for the 2015-16 year. Hunt proudly accepted her award from Nancy Lowe, Scholarship & Awards Chairman. Sabrina will have the fortune to attend the 2016 AENC Annual Meeting in Williamsburg, Va., with all key expenses paid.

AENC’s mission is to advance the field of Association Management by providing networking and professional development, while increasing the recognition of the Association community. AENC offers five scholarship opportunities to association members for a variety of professional development advancements.

Sabrina Hunt joined IMI in 2015 and has more than 13 years of experience in Executive Support, Office Management, HR, Process Improvement and Project Management in the different industries of medicine, manufacturing and executive suites. Her favorite part of the AMC industry is working with a team of expert professionals and seeing how the shared resources strengthen the team as a whole and draw out the best in the individual. Learn more about Sabrina here.

Congratulations, Sabrina!

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.

 

Automatic Renewals for Associations

Image Credit: Canva

By Linda Owens, CAE, owner, President

“Sign-up and Receive Automatic Renewal Member Perks!”

We’ve all received promotions like this to reward automatic renewal. No longer do companies exclusively focus on the incentive of saving time on future purchases; they instead focus on tangible benefits to encourage anyone who might be on the fence about auto renewal.

For example, by signing up for the Entertainment Book’s automatic renewal program, I receive exclusive Renewal Members’ perks like:

  • $5 off your Renewal books every year
  • Free shipping on your Renewal books every year
  • Early delivery—15 full months to use each book
  • 10% off additional books you buy as gifts or for yourself
  • Renewal Members-only exclusive offers and discounts
  • 50% off additional Member Fine Dine Cards
  • New! FREE Companion mobile app — view your book on your phone

What if one of the associations I belong to was to send me a similar email, would I sign up for their automatic renewal program? What about you, would you sign up? What type of perks would entice the typical association member to choose to automatically renew their membership from year to year? How about:

  • $5 off the next year’s dues
  • Free shipping on your next order from the association’s bookstore
  • 5% off the next Annual Conference registration fee
  • Admittance to a free webinar held exclusively for Renewal Members only

Do you have other ideas to add to this list? Does your association offer an automatic renewal program?

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.

Roundup! Our Top 10 Lists

Image Credit: Canva
Image Credit: Canva

By Rachel Owen, Communications Manager

I love a good “list post.” You’ve probably seen them everywhere: Top 10 Ways to Simplify Your Life Before Breakfast, 5 Ways to Be a Superhero Every Day, or 7 Movies You Didn’t Know Are Based on a True Story. List posts get you to the information you need without a lot of fuss and then get you on to the rest of your day.

In honor of this perennial favorite, we present to you a roundup of the top list posts from the IMI blog!

Top 10 List Posts for Associations

  1. Top Speakers & Sessions at ASAE

Our team shares the sessions we just can’t stop talking about.

  1. 5 Ways to Save a Bad Day

If your Tuesday feels like Monday 2.0, this post is for you.

  1. 5 Steps to an Awesome Onboarding Experience

Help the new employee or volunteer acclimate quickly with these tips.

  1. Top 10 Excel Tips and Shortcuts for Associations

Whether you love Excel or love to hate it, these tips will make your day easier.

  1. Top Tech Tools for Associations

Here’s what our team is raving about right now.

  1. 21 Tips for Better Board Meetings

What happens when 10 executive directors brainstorm a better board meeting? You get this post.

  1. 9 Tips to Recruit and Retain Volunteers

How to bring in those volunteers and then keep them engaged.

  1. 20 Key Takeaways from the Book: “The Will to Govern Well”

We love a good book!

  1. 3 Things I Learned About Membership

Lessons from one year in membership services.

  1. 7 Evergreen Ideas to Engage Volunteers

This is our very first post on the IMI blog and it’s worth repeating!

Do you like list posts or do you prefer a traditional blog post? Share with us your favorites in the comments below!

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.

Top Sessions and Speakers at ASAE

Image Credit: Canva
Image Credit: Canva

By Linda Owens, CAE, Owner and President

We at IMI were proud to send four staff members to this year’s ASAE Annual Meeting in Detroit, Mich. With such a large team in attendance, we were able to take advantage of a variety of sessions to get a good taste of what ASAE had to offer at this year’s conference.

These are the top speakers and sessions that our staff found to be dynamic, informative and memorable. Whether you are scoping out potential speakers for an upcoming conference or looking for educational resources, this post is for you.

Our Top Speakers and Sessions at ASAE

Post-Conference Workshop: Executive Leadership Program

Speaker: Jared D. Harris, faculty member at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business and a Senior Fellow at Darden’s Olsson Center for Applied Ethics

Comments: This was by far my favorite session out of all the sessions I have attended over the past eight ASAE Annual Meetings. If ASAE partners again with the Darden School of Business for future sessions I will be there! Workshop participants were presented with two real-life business situations which presented an opportunity for us to test our mastery of techniques and to refine our business judgment. This workshop definitely helped me improve my way of thinking about business situations.

Executive Committees: Do’s, Don’ts and Damage Controls

Speakers: Glenn Tecker, ADHD, DsLx , Chairman and Co-CEO, Tecker International LLC; Andy Clarke , CAE, former President, League of American Bicyclists; Cynthia Mills, FASAE, CAE, CMC, CPC, CCRC , Founder, President & CEO, The Leaders Haven

Comments: I attended this session after finding one of Glenn Tecker’s books to be extremely helpful , so this session was a “must attend” on my list. I found the session to be interactive and had to chuckle at the two scenarios which were presented for consideration on how to navigate and how to prevent a similar scenario from happening.

10 Must-Dos to Protect Your Intellectual Property

Speaker: Jeffrey Tenenbaum, Esq., partner, Venable LLP

Comments: This session was like drinking from an intellectual property firehose. It was a very fast moving session with lots of takeaways!

Ignite

Speakers: Tammy Barnes, Director, Operations State Advocacy, American Psychological Association; John Ganoe, CAE, Executive Director, Community Association Managers International Certification Board; Tracy King, MA, CAE, Principal & Founder, InspirEd, LLC; Jakub Konysz, MA, CAE, Manager, Strategic Global Initiatives, American Chemical Society; Conor McNulty, CAE, Executive Director, Oregon Dental Association; Mark Milroy, CAE, Vice President, Learning, ASAE; Stefanie Reeves, MA, CAE, Executive Director, Maryland Psychological Association; Erik Schonher, Vice President, Marketing General Incorporated; Catherine Wemette, CAE, Chief Goodness Officer, Good for the Soul; Beth Z. Ziesenis, Your Nerdy Best Friend

Comments: The IGNITE session was my favorite! It’s the learning format that’s fast, fun, and focused where each speaker gets 20 slides, auto-advancing every 15 seconds, for five minutes total. The concept is really cool, and it kept it interesting, fresh, and sometimes funny when the slides advanced before the speaker was ready. I wrote down lots of good quotes and quips from the session, but I think that the overarching theme of the session, “enlighten us, but make it quick”, was probably my favorite. I’m looking for ways to bring this into my meetings.

Reggie Henry

Reggie Henry, ASAE’s Chief information Officer spoke at a CEO Power Breakfast hosted by Fort Worth CVB. Reggie was a dynamic and engaging speaker. The focus of his session was how advances in technology are changing the way we work and live. Then he shared insights on how particular technology can be used to change the way associations provide content and services to member in order to remain relevant. This session was not one of the regularly scheduled ASAE events. However, if your membership profile has you listed as a CEO of your organization you should receive an invitation to the session directly from the Fort Worth CVB.

Jeff Hurt

Jeff Hurt, EVP with Velvet Chainsaw Consulting led the session Strengthen Your Strategic Thinking Muscles To Become A Better Leader. Jeff tangled with a difficult subject – strategic thinking – to really focus on how thinking more strategically can help us become better leaders. In the process he distilled and defined strategic thinking and provided a plethora of engaging activities for the audience all in a 30 minute session.

Deedre Daniel

Deedre Daniel, Director of Partnership Marketing with GEICO spoke again this year at ASAE. Last year I loved her dynamic and engaging session on LinkedIn. This year she not only provided her insights at a session on her own (Learn to Share or Your Bottom Line will get Spanked), she teamed up with some heavy hitters to present Selling to Association. Deedra is definitely a presenter to watch.

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.

Make An Impact with Membership Materials

Image Credit: Canva
Image Credit: Canva

By Jalene Bowersmith, Account Manager

These ideas are inspired by the session “Making an Impact with Your Membership Materials: What Works, What Doesn’t” at the ASAE Annual Meeting on August 10, 2014, presented by Denise Gavilan, Walter Kim, Theresa Kramer-Burgess and Cecilia Cortes-Earle.

Our members are bombarded by information every day from articles, TV and social media. Many people see more than 350 marketing messages per day.  How do you make sure that your membership communications resonate with members and don’t get lost in the clutter?

Here are 9 quick tips to help your next message to members make an impact.

  • Keep it small and impactful. Choose the top points – no more than three.
  • Make it about the reader. Focus less on your association and more on the reader – their results, concerns and solutions.
  • Focus on benefits – not features. Need a refresher about the difference between features and benefits? Read this.
  • Always answer the question for the reader, “What do members value the organization for?”
  • Vary your methods of delivery, but always keep the message consistent and authentic across all channels.
  • Adapt your message to the target audience. A member who is new to the association may need different information than a seasoned member. Make sure you know who your target is and how to best reach them.
  • Collect and use your testimonials. For great tips on the best ways to use your testimonials check out this post.
  • Read the copy out loud to see if it flows. If it’s awkward to read aloud it will be awkward for your readers, too.
  • Every message needs a clear call to action. Always ask: 1) What do I want the reader to do? (Register by a specific date, contact their legislator, “Like” the Facebook page, etc.), and 2) How do I want them to do it? (click a link, contact a staff member, register in person, etc.)
Image Credit: Canva
Image Credit: Canva

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.

Race for Relevance

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By Whitney Thweatt, account manager

As an association management professional, I find myself constantly wondering how to improve the association and member benefits. In an age of almost limitless free resources available online, associations are faced with the daily challenge to show value and relevance to both current and potential members. What are some strategies association professionals can take to address this challenge?

The book, Race for Relevance: 5 Radical Changes for Associations, by Harrison Coerver and Mary Byers, CAE, proposes five fundamental changes in the way we think about association governance and management:

  1. Overhaul the governance model and committee operations.
  2. Empower the CEO and leverage staff expertise.
  3. Precisely define your member market.
  4. Rationalize programs and services and focus on those that have the maximum effect.
  5. Build robust technology framework.

Not sure where to start? Here are five high impact ideas to implement in your association.

5 Tips for Keeping Your Association Relevant:

  1. Members and volunteers face a work/personal life dilemma. “I don’t have time” really means “I have better things to do with my time.” Volunteers expect a return on investment of time so make sure you are offering some short-time volunteer opportunities as well as ones that are worthwhile to the volunteer.
  2. The board should focus on potential and possibilities; staff on implementation. Ideally you should have a competency-based board made up of five or six people.
  3. Specialization is key. Associations should focus on their strengths instead of trying to be all things to all members. Members will narrow their memberships to those with highest return on investment.
  4. Concentrate on the products that deliver the most value. Unused services and unneeded programs have no value. Prune obsolete services and your message becomes simpler.
  5. Every association function can be enhanced or performed via technology. Not only can automating some tasks free up staff time for other important member projects, it may also increase involvement. Find out what technologies and services your members are already using and integrate current member resources into those systems.

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.

Incorporating Content Marketing on Your Association Website

Image Credit: Steven Lewis
Image Credit: Steven Lewis

By Jalene Bowersmith, Executive Director

Based on 4 Trends Reinventing Association Websites presented by Ray van Hilts, Director, Client Strategy and Marketing, Vanguard Technology

As content marketing becomes more and more popular, associations are uniquely posed to promote the extensive amount of content they have created over the years. Content marketing encompasses the sharing of content to drive profitability and improve brand loyalty, while attracting and engaging members and potential members.

There are two basic types of content an association can market: formal and informal.

Informal – Social Media, Micro Videos, Blog Posts

Formal – Fact Sheets, News Articles, Features, Emails, Webinars, White Papers, Evergreen Content

Associations tend to have a lot of formal content. One way to jump-start the content marketing process and leverage formal content quickly is to perform a content audit. Determine what content the organization has and where it is located. Then determine the best place for that content to live. If the organization is planning to share most of the content with members and non-members, creating a library connected to the association website can become a convenient way to archive, tag and potentially repurpose content.

During the content audit consider what content is relevant today. Evergreen content may be the basis for a best practices library or web page on your site. Fact sheets or checklists may assist a particular category of member with their processes and be featured on a blog, or given new life in an article. There are many ways an organization can repurpose content; videos, educational opportunities, newsletters and articles are just a few options.

Now that you know what formal content you have, what is relevant, and how to repurpose it, think about the best audience for marketing that content. Determine the best way to share specific content and who you want to share it with. Is this content for members only, or will it help the organization’s profile to share it with the public? Should members pay extra to access the content (such as an educational webinar), or is it included with their membership fee. Asking these questions will help you determine where the content should live and how valuable it is to the organization, members and the public. In order to have a successful content marketing campaign it is important to think about content as having value and being marketable. Keep the following Content Marketer’s Manifesto tips in mind:

#1 I am a Marketer. If you are creating content, you are engaged in marketing.

#2 I hold the hottest tool for retention – Content. Relevant content is the best way to create value for members.

#3 My content is aligned with the organization’s goals. I create content that achieves my organization’s goals.

#4 I am in the influencing behavior game. My purpose is to provide value through content to influence and drive behavior.

#5 I have an ongoing dialogue. Content topics are driven by ongoing discussion and listening to member’s needs.

By shifting your thinking and seeing content as a marketing tool to reach potential members and engage longtime members, the organization can begin to develop a structure and process for sharing content across many different platforms.

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.