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Knowledge Center FAQs

Administration – Association Management Companies

Q: How do I choose an Association Management Company (AMC)?

A: The ASAE and Center’s website has a wealth of information on AMCs. Hiring an Association Management Company, Guide To Association Management Companies, and a sample Association Management Agreement are just some of the resources we have for associations seeking an AMC. The AMC Section’s webpage highlights several resources. ASAE and The Center does not track fees charged by AMCs, but you may contact AMC Institute for more information.

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Administration – Human Resources and Compensation

Q: How can I find a salary for a particular position?

A: ASAE and The Center publish a compensation and benefits study biannually. To purchase PDF tables of compensation for specific positions, or the print copy of the compensation and benefits study, you may visit our online store here.

Q: What is the staff turnover rate?

A: According to ASAE Foundation’s Benchmarking in Association Management: Human Resources, Legal, and Office Management Policies and Procedures (PDF Download), the median rate is 8 percent.

Q: Where can I find job titles and descriptions, sample contracts and agreements, and sample HR policies?

A: The Models and Samples webpage, for members only, has hundreds of resources on various management topics, including human resources. You will find resources on these topics under Agreements and Contracts, Job Descriptions, and Staff Management and HR Resources. Other topics include board governance, chapter tools, finance, education, membership, RFPs, and website tools - just to name a few.

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Administration – Vendors

Q: How can I found a supplier of X?

A: ASAE and The Center’s Online Buyers Guide is a listing of vendors and suppliers who provide products and services to associations and other organizations. Users can find companies by name, category, keyword search, type of business, and geographical location.

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Association Size and Scope

Q: How many associations are there in the United States?

A: You can learn more about associations through our webpage Association Frequently Asked Questions. The IRS publishes statistics on the number of 501 (c)s in the IRS Data Book in Table 25, which can be found on its website. Tax-Exempt Organizations and Nonexempt Charitable Trusts. You may also wish to consult two other publications, Cengage Learning’s Encyclopedia of Associations and the Columbia Books' National Trade and Professional Associations of the United States. These resources can be found in most libraries or online.

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Financial Management

Q: How much should I keep in reserves?

A: Most organizations maintain 58 percent of their annual budget in reserves, but this percentage varies from organization to organization. The Operating Ratio Report, 14th edition, in print and digital formats, contains information on how much organizations (by revenue size) have in reserves and how they are investing these funds. The Operating Ratio Report also reports the revenue and expense ratio of each project activity as a percentage of total revenue.

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Governance – Board of Directors

Q: What is the average board size?

A: The median board size is 15, according to the ASAE Foundation’s Benchmarking in Association Management-Governance Policies and Procedures.

Q: What are the best practices for board selection?

A: There are a number of ways board members are selected – by the current board, by a nominating committee, or nominated by the members. Recruitment and Nominations is a list of resources to help nonprofit leaders find the right candidates for board director and officer positions. By determining a set criteria of the skills, attributes, and knowledge needed for each position, the nominating committee or other selection committee can present a slate of candidates qualified for board service.

Q: What is the role of the board?

A: The role of the board is defined in the organization’s bylaws. The article, Legal Duties of Association Board Members outlines the roles and responsibilities of the board and the CEO. Five Tips for Exceptional Board Performance offers some pointers on how to maintain a high performing board.

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Q: What is the CAN-SPAM Act?

A: The Act, which went into effect in December 2003, regulates all commercial electronic mail, whether unsolicited or not. As defined by the law, commercial electronic mail messages have the "primary purpose" of advertising or promoting a commercial product or service, including content on an Internet web site. New CAN-SPAM Regulations Issued by FTC is a good overview of what the Act covers. The Federal Trade Commission issued more rules in May 2008 and A Communicator's Guide to the New CAN-SPAM Rules will give you an understanding of the changes.  Tough, New Anti-Spam Law Coming to Canada examines implications for U.S. based associations and marketers that are active in Canada.

Q: What is PCI Compliance?

A:  Associations and nonprofit organizations that store, transmit, or process credit card information must abide by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). Articles that discuss PCI compliance are The Intersection of PCI Compliance and Membership and Are You PCI Compliant?.

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Member Relations

Q: Are the dues deductible for members of 501 (c) (6) organizations who conduct lobbying activities?

A: Federal laws mandate that organizations may not deduct lobbying expenses as part of their business expenses. The organization is also obligated to either notify the members of the nondeductible portion of the dues, or pay a proxy tax. The articles, Legal Brief: Association responsibilities regarding lobbying expenditures and Perfect Storm: The Fast-Changing Regulation of Political Activity, give readers an in-depth look at the laws governing dues deductibility, including laws governing other 501(c) organizations.

Q: How do I communicate a dues increase?

A: Dues represent about 37.7 percent of revenue on the average for associations, according to the Operating Ratio Report, 14th edition. Dues are generally increased as a result of an increase in costs to provide or add new products and services. The article The Lowdown on Raising Dues provides guidance as to how and when to raise dues.

Q: How often should we communicate with our members?

A: “How much is too much?” is a question often asked by association marketers. Tracking open rates and member response will answer many of those questions. How Does Your Association's Email Marketing Program Compare? and E-Marketing Success for Nonprofits give some timely tips on marketing strategies.

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Membership Recruitment and Retention

Q: How do I calculate membership recruitment and retention?

A: The articles Measuring Retention Rates to Guide Your Membership Marketing Strategy and Budgeting for Membership Retention and Recruitment give readers formulas for basic calculations, including membership recruitment and retention, and the value of lifetime membership.

Q: What is the membership retention rate?

A: The average membership retention rate is 88 percent, according to the ASAE Foundation’s report Benchmarking in Association Management: Membership & Components Policies and Procedures.

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Programs, Products and Services

Q: How do I best determine hotel attrition rates?

A: Reviewing historical and current trends will help you in determining your attrition rates. If your attrition rates fall below expectations, renegotiate your contract. Work with the hotelier on negotiable areas. The articles, Avoiding and Surviving Hotel Attrition PenaltiesThe Economy and Attrition: How AMCs Can Best Plan and Fearing Attrition? and Throw an Unconference to Fill the Rooms, offer some strategies on dealing with attrition rates.

Q: How do I determine pricing for my products and services, and evaluate my programs?

A: The articles Pricing Along Your Accelerant CurvePerspectives on Association Pricing, When the Price Isn't Right and Are Your Programs Worthwhile? are resources that will help you with pricing your products and services and evaluating them. The Sample Program Evaluation Form will be useful during your evaluative process.

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Q: How do I develop a strategy for social media in my organization?

A: Not-for-profits are adopting social media as a way to recruit and retain members, market their products and services, solicit contributions, and recruit volunteers. The articles, Mission Possible: A Social Media Strategy in Six Weeks, 8 Steps to Streamline Your Social Media Strategy, Create Social Media Policies With Purpose, and Legal Risks of Social Media, give insight on the challenges facing organizations as they develop social media policies and procedures. Reaping Benefits From Social Media: Conversations With CEOs and Social Media Tools and Resources (for members only) can jumpstart your social media initiatives by justifying a return on investment and setting policies to take your organization to the next level of engagement.



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