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ASSOCIATIONS NOW, August 2012 Community now

Summary: Readers share their views on recent Associations Now articles.

People are talking

Intranets, boards, and benefit corporations are on the minds of our readers. Here's what a few had to say.

Who Benefits?

"A New Formula for Social Change," Associations Now, June 2012. Shelly Alcorn, CAE, and Mark Alcorn considered the rise of benefit corporations and how they might affect associations.

This article promotes so-called "social benefit corporations" as a new for-profit corporate category. I am unconvinced that this model produces more social good than traditional profit-focused companies that strive to increase the value of my retirement investments, contribute millions of dollars to worthy charities, whose dues fund our associations, and that create the new wealth necessary to sustain the world's highest standard of living. In fact, I worry about politicians defining the role of private businesses at all. In light of the authors' statement that associations that don't support benefit corporations "risk being viewed as protectionist, self-serving, and lacking commitment to improving society," I wonder why such intimidation is necessary to sell a purported "good idea"!

—Bill Burns, CAE, Association for Play Therapy, Fresno, California

Quality Sells

"7 Ways to Make Your Magazine Profitable," published online June 12, 2012. Andrew Singer shared strategies for keeping association publications both professional and in the black.

My accountants were telling me to walk away from a local medical publication we were producing that was not making money. We have been able to turn it around by concentrating on the quality of the editorial, design, pictorial, paper stock, and packaging. Any one of these elements can let the publication down if not of a high standard. We are now enjoying the rewards of a profitable 40-page publication without the need for hard-sell advertising.

—John Campbell, John Campbell Communications, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

Build Better Boards

"Three Questions on Leadership and Management We Don't Have Answers To," Acronym, published June 14, 2012. Mark Athitakis discussed the risks of disengaged and rubber-stamp boards.

It is important to remember that governing is about mindset rather than mechanics. That we're even wondering whether the CEO can ignore the board reveals an unfortunate insight into the mindset we still hold today: Governing is a necessary evil at best and a profoundly dysfunctional process at worst, but never a source of strategic advantage.

Why do we continue to accept the conventional wisdom about boards and CEOs? Perhaps it is because association CEOs are advised to place greater emphasis on tweaking the mechanics of governing—e.g., reduce the size of the board—than on cultivating the right mindset among those who govern. If we were really committed to accelerating the pace of progress in our organizations, we would build strategically legitimate boards capable of collaborating with their CEOs, as well as dedicated to the hard work of nurturing a shared sense of responsibility for future-focused stewardship among all stakeholders.

—Jeff De Cagna, Principled Innovation LLC, Reston, Virginia

Intranet Upsides and Downsides

"Common Threads," Associations Now Guide to Technology Solutions, June 2012. Beth Ziesenis reported on a number of associations that built effective intranets.

SharePoint seems to be the go-to solution, but it is costly to implement and administer. The other downside is that it is not the most intuitive software. If that is the direction you want to go, I would recommend either using a hosted SharePoint solution or be ready to hire a SharePoint administrator on to your staff.

Our organization uses Chatter by Salesforce.com for communicating, creating small project-based groups, and posting alerts for our staff to see. The upside is that it also acts as a staff-only social network. The only downside is that it does not provide a true intranet experience for file sharing and editing. Any ideas how to have the best of both worlds?

—Jeffrey Price, Board of Certification/Accreditation, International, Owings Mills, Maryland

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