Spread the CAE Word as a Consultant

By: Bill Pawlucy, CAE, and Bob Harris, CAE

Association consultants can advance the association profession by promoting the CAE designation and delivering continuing education programs that align with the CAE curriculum.

"If you build it, they will come." We certainly did not build the Certified Association Executive certification, but as consultants, we make sure that our clients know about the CAE and encourage them to explore it with us. We have had the privilege of working with many passionate nonprofit leaders, and we make every effort to touch those that have not heard of CAE or have not made the commitment to the designation.

So, as a consultant, how can you help spread the word? At the beginning of any training session or consulting session, it is important to make the "CAE Pitch" to your clients. The elements of the pitch are basic, but utilizing the interactions that consultants have with nonprofits on a daily basis is invaluable. When we work with nonprofits, we make sure we do the following:

Celebrate the achievement. When working with a group of state chapter executives of a nonprofit, there is a great opportunity to find out if any of the executives have just recently earned their CAE. If they have, we make sure that we congratulate them on their achievement. If there is a CAE in the audience, we have them describe why it would be valuable to hold the designation. They will spread the praises and encourage the other executives in the group to pursue it.

Promote the value to the board. When working with an association board in either strategic planning, board governance, or staff roles and responsibilities, this is an excellent time to speak of the value of the CAE and the impact a CAE has on an association.

For example, in working with a board on a strategic plan, we found out that the executive director recently earned his CAE and congratulated him on his achievement. Immediately, that comment brought a great deal of credibility to that achievement, especially to the board, who budgets the executive director's recertification and continuing education. It also prompted the deputy director to proudly state that she was pursuing her CAE as well.

Training sessions and credits. A great number of consultants offer quality education via webinars and live training. These sessions may be eligible for CAE credit if the program content touches the exam content outline as set by the CAE Commission. This not only enhances the session but also provides a link back to the CAE program and helps those seeking credits for renewal.

Wearing the designation. If you are a CAE, wear your pin proudly, place your designation on your business card, and let everyone know on your website. The more impressions we make, the more we promote the value of the designation and our alignment with the body of knowledge.

Whether or not you have your CAE as a consultant, you have the ability to promote to your clients an education that will provide a higher level of competency for that association executive while enhancing your own practice.

Please contact the CAE Action Team for more information on how you can help us promote the CAE. It is built, now let them come.

Bill Pawlucy, IOM, CAE, is founder of Association Options, Inc., in Little Canada, Minnesota, a company dedicated to helping nonprofits grow through practical strategic planning, efficiency planning, and board coaching. He brings more than 16 years of experience and is also the executive director of the International Association of Interviewers and an appointee of the U.S. Department of Commerce's Board of Examiners for the Baldrige Presidential Award. Email: [email protected]

Bob Harris, CAE, is founder of The NonProfit Center in Tallahassee, Florida, focused on the core knowledge and member needs of associations. He brings more than 25 years of experience and specializes in board orientation, training, and strategic planning. He is an author and creator of tools for associations. Email: [email protected]

Bill Pawlucy, CAE, and Bob Harris, CAE