Readers share their views on recent Associations Now articles.
Associations Now received some great responses to our November 2009 Horizons column, "That Thing You Do." Here are just a few of them, plus other reactions to the November issue.
I enjoyed Kevin Holland's thought-provoking commentary in the November issue of Associations Now ["That Thing You Do"]. Since I do believe that I learn things of value from hearing about the experiences of other association execs, I would be interested in reading a follow-up piece on some ways in which his association has evolved to stay relevant to members and continue meeting their changing needs. (I promise not to consider his practices "best" and try to copy them at my association.)
Thanks for sharing Kevin's insights.
—Gerry Romano, CAE, Arlington, Virginia
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I'm writing today to share my appreciation for Kevin Holland's article. "That Thing You Do" was incredibly thought provoking, insightful and, in my opinion, spot on.
I've worked in the nonprofit sector for nearly 2.5 years, and since I graduated from college only three years ago, I believe that I carry a different view on the sector as a whole than many of my colleagues. A fresh set of eyes can be a big help to an organization, especially as so many associations are undergoing rapid transformations.
There's no doubt that "one size fits all" mentalities simply don't work anymore. Customization, individuality, repackaging, fresh concepts, and so forth are the driving forces behind the success, or lack thereof, of organizations in our industry. However, in my opinion, a majority of nonprofits will continue to do the same things as have always been done because of one reason—the board (please note: we've got a great board at the Michigan Dental Association). Factor in politics, the "old boys club," personal agendas: There are many forces working against those who are trying to bring progressive ideas to the table.
I sincerely appreciate Kevin's effort to at least put out the call to action, publicly, that we need to stop doing what's always been done just because that's the way it's always been done. He's put our professional community on notice—I can't wait to see what happens next.
—Josh Lord, director of membership and student affairs, Michigan Dental Association, Okemos, Michigan
Bringing Discipline to Disorder
Regarding your "Call to Disorder" article [November 2009], one could make a number of observations:
- The discipline of a continuing and cascading strategic-planning process does not eliminate disorder among board directors, but such static emanating from volunteers, without consensus plans and a clear governance culture in place, is common.
- Board policy should require that committee reports/proposals be in writing.
- Effective nonprofit organizations invest in a long-term (volunteer) director sourcing system. It can include building a confidential repository of potential director talent, careful selection of the nominating committee members and an intensive orientation of those members on the organization's future leadership needs. Nomination to the board should be a discreet, invitation-only process.
—Gerard F. Hurley, CAE, president, Association Executive Resources Group, Gaithersburg, Maryland
Pass It On
Look at page 4 [of the November 2009 issue]. See all those people on the masthead? What do they do? Well, for one thing, they are collecting good information and putting it into a format that is easy for me to digest and apply. You must have asked those folks to instruct contributors to do shorter articles on important management issues. They did and THEY did.
You don't need to do an exhaustive readership survey to determine if the magazine has value—just ask [me]. Question: "Alex, how many articles did you stick Post-its to and mark for distribution to other staff members?" Answer: That would be nine of them. (A few went to the same person but, altogether, seven different people received an article.)
My reason for writing? To reassure you that in these challenging times, ASAE & The Center has a publication/service that is compelling and, as Whitney Redding mentioned in her article ["The Formula for Publications Success," November 2009], a publication that is "essential reading."
—Alex Lagusch, executive director, Columbus Bar Association, Columbus, Ohio