Monday, 23 December 2013

Your Association's Tradeshow: An Important Source of Non-Dues Revenue

The Chapter was fortunate to bring together a panel of experts to discuss some of the latest trends and challenges of managing successful tradeshows. What made this workshop interesting was the varied background of our panel, which had representation from consumer and industry trade shows to innovative meeting and events expos.

Our panelists were:
Martine Proulx, Director of Events, Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries
Debbie van der Beek, Publisher, Ignite Magazine & Ignite Business Event Expo
Ian Forsyth, Show Director /Managing Partner, Caneast Shows Inc.

Our moderator for the morning workshop was Nancy Barrett, CAE, Partner, AMCES.

Panelists were asked to share their background and experience. Martine manages the CANSEC show, one of the largest military tradeshows in Canada with over 10,000 attendees and 400 exhibitors. Martine recognizes that your team of contractors are an integral part of a show’s success. Debbie who publishes Ignite magazine saw a gap in the market for a tradeshow with a difference, similar to Ignite’s innovative publication, and introduced the Iginite Business Event Expo three years ago with a fresh and new approach to tradeshows. Ian has been a passionate consumer show producer for over 26 years starting with the Cottage Life show in Toronto and now has five successful shows here in Ottawa - The Home and Design Show, Ottawa Pet Expo, The Home Renovation Show, Outdoor Adventure Travel Show and the Cottage & Backyard Show - with plans to add two more shows next year.

Debbie shared her vision of moving away from the traditional bowling alley tradeshow booth format to more of a golf course approach which includes lounges for delegates to rest, background music, wider aisles and angles. The idea is that if attendees enjoy their experience, exhibitors will join and participate.

Ian introduced the Pet Expo with a strategic policy - what better way to bring in people to the show then to have a ‘pets welcome policy’! Another strategy is to focus on high-end quality exhibitors while limiting the number of exhibitors within the same category. Ian is always looking to bring great value to both exhibitors and show attendees.  This approach has made the Ottawa Pet Expo one of the largest and most respected shows of its kind in Canada.

Working within the more traditional military industry tradeshow environment, Martine expanded  the CANSEC show with the introduction of a Business-to-Business (B2B) application which allows delegates to pre-book meetings with specific exhibitors. Martine ensures private offices/space is available for such meetings and networking. With multi-million dollar deals actually taking place at the event and increased visibility, the show now attracts international attention, and this year 50 foreign delegations attended CANSEC.

Martine expressed the challenges hosting the event which extended from Ottawa’s downtown core to the new Ernst and Young Centre. These were addressed with increased shuttle service and by allowing pre-registration at strategic downtown workplace locations. On the show floor, Martine always takes traffic flow into consideration and will ensure to anchor major exhibitors in strategic locations throughout the hall to create optimum traffic flow benefiting smaller exhibitors.

Debbie uses a similar approach with the Ignite Business Event Expo. The floor design includes various zones strategically located to promote delegate traffic throughout. She urges show producers to take risks, to see what works, evaluate afterwards, and adjust accordingly.

An important point of discussion was sponsorship and how to ensure sponsors get their return on investment (ROI). Ian emphasized open communication and the need to be transparent with your sponsors. You need to always look at ways to be creative and to over deliver on what is promised. Debbie is not big on the cookie-cutter style sponsorship prospectus and prefers to engage/dialogue with sponsors to find out what message they would like to integrate within the event, to look at ways to draw delegates and accomplish their goals for the event. Keys to retaining a sponsor for subsequent events are to look at ways to meet their needs, to be fair and flexible, to not be greedy, and to deliver what you promise.

The next discussion was on the importance of engaging delegates. Ian sees the consumer show industry as similar to the entertainment business. You want to create a positive experience so that when the attendee leaves the show they feel they received value. Debbie continually walks the show floor to keep an eye on delegates, making sure the atmosphere within the show is something the delegate wants to part of. Martine looks for ways to bring added value in the CANSEC show such as the B2B program mentioned earlier and introducing innovative networking activities such as BBQs .

The workshop finished with a discussion on industry trends. Ian has seen a marked change, due in part to the Internet, where people often arrive at a show with their purchase decision already made. They are looking to personalize the transaction at the show which can extend the selling cycle. Martine mentioned that even in the virtualization age, the need for face-to-face meetings is essential. An important role CANSEC plays is to connect people--the customer and the buyer.

Debbie sees a growing use of social media to engage delegates. The hosted planner program and appointment base system is very popular with exhibitors and delegates alike. She sees a younger generation coming to market and it is important to provide value and an environment that meets the needs of cross-generational attendees. The virtual/hybrid meeting is becoming mainstream; however, Debbie sees it as a way to eventually grow your attendee base, where the virtual experience augments a face-to-face meeting.

Martine concluded exhibitors must take some responsibility for the level of booth traffic they experience. Booth etiquette is an important issue - during tradeshows you often see exhibitors on the phone or distracted with food and drinks at their booth when they should be present and interacting with delegates.

Thank you to the many contributors who brought tremendous practical experience and insight about tradeshows as a non-dues revenue source to our workshop participants.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Engaging Next Generations

Recently, over 100 members of the Ottawa-Gatineau CSAE Chapter met at the Sheraton Ottawa to listen to a panel of three association executives that discussed member engagement, particularly the challenges they faced involving the next generations of members.

Panelists Sean Kelly(National Director of Membership at the Canadian Bar Association), Linda Palmer, CAE(Director of Membership Services and Trainee Programs at the Canadian Cardiovascular Society) and Leacy O’Callaghan-O’Brien, CAE (Director, Advocacy, Communications and Events at the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists) shared the experience of their organizations. In each case, the association had identified early signs of weakening interest from younger generations.

The panel was moderated by David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data, an Ottawa-based full-service market research firm. David was particularly well-suited to facilitate a discussion on this topic as his firm offers a Canadian Millennial practice (which includes advice for engaging with this emerging generation) and David is a millennial himself!

As part of his opening remarks, David presented a compelling overview of the importance of member segmentation based on the premise that different generations will have particular interests and needs. For example, education and mentorship rank as highly important benefits for millennials while networking and discounts were the highest ranked incentives for boomers to join an association.

A great deal of valuable information was shared during this session. It was clear that associations need to be attentive to signs or triggers that may indicate that they are, or will soon be, facing a drop in involvement by younger cohorts. Potential indicators include difficult economic conditions (making it harder for organizations to justify a membership dues expense), competition for membership from other organizations, low renewal rates amongst those transitioning from academia to the workforce particularly where membership is voluntary, and difficulty in getting younger members to participate in programs.

All of the panelists agreed that once indicators have been identified it is critical to make informed decisions based on research and consultation so that appropriate solutions can be identified and implemented.

Here are a few of the diverse and original solutions shared by the panel. Some of these may be helpful within your organization:

  • Ensuring the voice of younger members is being heard by providing opportunities to participate in meaningful decision making
  • Inclusion at the top -- dedicating a board position for younger members
  • Naming young professional ambassadors
  • Creating a committee dedicated to new members
  • Implementing recognition programs and awards
  • Increasing social media presence
  • Going visual -- making videos about the brand
  • Delivering specifically what they value
  • Being willing to think outside the box -- not relying on how things have always been done

After implementing a number of these changes, each of the three organizations represented by the panel reported significant improvements in participation from younger generations. Success indicators included increased conversions from trainees to members as well as an overall boost in member numbers.

Ultimately, the fate of membership associations rests with our ability to attract and keep younger generations engaged. The earlier this is recognized and addressed, the greater the likelihood that your association will enjoy a sustainable future.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Attrition Busting Tips

Attrition: The difference between the actual number of sleeping rooms picked-up (or food-and-beverage covers or revenue projections) and the number or formulas agreed to in the terms of the facility’s contract. Usually there is an allowable shortfall before damages are assessed. 

Brenda Howes, Founder & CEO of The Howes Group, has provided five tips on how to ensure that you do not get get stuck with additional attrition charges.

  1. Work from your History - Take at least four years of history and compare destinations.  Consult with us to help you determine which destination tends to draw the most delegates.
  2. Create an incentive to ensure strong pickup – Having delegates stay at the main conference hotels should be an incentive to have them want to stay at the hotel you have chosen for your meeting.  Include incentives in your negotiations to ensure there is a benefit to staying within your block.
  3. Communication – Ensure that your delegates and even board members understand how important it is to stay within your block.  Education and understanding why it is important to book within the block is key to ensure folks understand the ramifications of booking elsewhere.
  4. Delegate Deposits - This has proven to be very helpful with clients to ensure there is a commitment to their reservation.  Cancelling 24 hours out may be allowed by the hotel while this ‘out’ can have a negative impact on your block.  A 50% deposit 30 days out reduces the risk to your organization.  Review cancellations on a case-per-case basis.
  5. Registration Reduction – Reward your delegates who book within the block with a minimum registration reduction.  Often times it only takes a small reduction to ensure that they book within your block.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Generational Leadership

Are you thriving or surviving in your current work situation? Do you ever feel like you don't necessarily fit into the work culture today? It may be that your boss speaks X and you speak Y.

I spoke with Tamara Erickson, author of Plugged In: The Generation Y Guide to Thriving at Work. Tamara is a McKinsey Award-winning author and has conducted extensive research on changing demographics, employee values, and how successful organizations work.

If you were born past 1980 you are part of the culture known as Generation Y and you now make up nearly 1/3 of Canadians living today. The things you value, the leaders you like to follow and what motivates you are quite different from others in your organization who were born before this time. You have grown up digital, connected and in a time when there has been an amazing amount of change in the world. Along with growing up “digital”, you have witnessed events from the fall of the Berlin Wall to Columbine to 911. Tamara shared that “(t)he most common complaint I hear from employers regarding the Y's is that they want everything now. They'll tackle challenges where the proverbial angels would fear to tread. They'll break the rules, and, if we let them, they'll show us how to make our corporations a more humane place for all.” 

As I spoke with Tamara, I realized how these issues have played out in my own career related to the choices that I made, as well as times when I was more and less successful at leading others. Whether you are Generation B (Boomer) X or Y, understanding the nuances of culture and how our beliefs shape our behaviour is crucial to being successful in today’s competitive marketplace. In Tamara’s book she shares six key elements that any generation can use to thrive in their work:

  1. Find your passion: what are you?
  2. Identify your preferences: what you want to do? with whom? what compensation, lifestyle and social activity do you want?
  3. Target your place: geographically, organizationally and role.
  4. Align practical realities: while you may desire to be a doctor, do you want to spend the next seven years of your life pursuing this?
  5. Find the ideal job: this is the role that overall best suits YOU. 
  6. Leverage the unique advantages that you bring to the market.

You may think in the current market, is it even possible to consider these options? While it may take longer to move to a role that is better suited to you, these six principles have never been more relevant. Research shows that professionals who are thriving in their work are less likely to be laid off and if they are affected by restructuring, land in new roles faster and in better positions than the average performers.

These are Tamara’s “David Letterman” Top 10 “Thriving at Work” Tips:

  • Think positively 
  • Show initiative 
  • People can't read minds, learn how to clearly communicate. 
  • Reason and financial logic are important in the business world, not feelings. 
  • Make the most of every experience, good or bad, by learning from it. 
  • Pragmatism is good: what works for others can work for you. 
  • Walk fast, carry a stack of papers, and drink coffee: there is importance in being perceived as purposeful. 
  • Clear the air and move on: discuss, resolve, let go, and move on. 
  • Don't underestimate the power of grace under pressure. 
  • Keep three months salary in the bank: create for yourself the power to walk away. 

As you consider these ideas, don’t ask why…honour your inner Gen Y.

Alan Kearns is Canada's Career Coach and CareerJoy founder, Workopolis career expert, Chapters/Indigo Trusted Advisor and author of Get the Right Job Right Now! Alan is one of Canada's leading authorities on career management issues and has shaped his almost 20 years of career management experience into a company that helps people from all over North America to navigate a wide variety of career-related issues.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Invest in Your Future: Segmentation Recommendations

With Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) looming, many organizations are starting to re-focus their efforts on their data, and segmenting it so that communications sent to contacts are what they are looking for. We are bombarded by email messaging, and at times, tune out from what organizations are trying to tell us. What’s sad is that they are likely missing information that they should know, and want to know, all because it has become too much.

Here are a few examples/recommendations of possible segmentation best practices that may help:

  • Communication types: Make a list of all types of information you are putting out there, and then identify if there are certain types of members (based on company type, job functionality, etc) who would most likely be interested in receiving it. 
  • Offer corporate memberships? Do you have the main contact only (i.e. the one who writes the cheque)? Or have you assessed them early and obtained other contact names? Not every contact within the corporation will be interested in the same information; from C-suite contacts, to product designers, they have different goals, and value different information. Identify who should be on your list based on your types of communication, and make an effort to obtain their contact information.
  • Offer industry and supplier memberships? Segment them. Supplier members may not be interested in all aspects of your organization. It’s a best practice to find out why they became a member, and keep them informed with information on what will keep them renewing. 
  • For organizations that offer special programs or information to select portions of your membership, do not send information to your entire database. Those who cannot access it, or will not qualify, will only get frustrated that they are getting excluded.

There are several ways to segment your members. A best practice is not to assume, get them to tell you. Here are a few ways to help gather the information:

  • Send a communication, other than an email, advising that your organization is in the process of segmenting membership in order to provide effective, streamlined communication. In this communication, tell them to expect an email inviting them to provide their preferences.
  • Next step? Send the email. Prepare a landing page with all of their options, and ask them to select the categories that best suit their needs. Make sure that the information transfers easily to your customer relationship management (CRM) system.  
  • Did you not get responses from everyone? Follow up with a phone campaign to get their preferences captured over the phone.

I fully realize that you will not get everyone’s preferences this way, but it’s a start. You can continue this effort throughout the year (at renewal time, while they are in the process of registering for a conference or event, etc). All of this effort should increase member satisfaction, engagement, and email open and click through rates. After all, keeping them happy will give you a better chance of keeping them renewing, right?

This post was provided by Meagan Rockett, who is the Director, Client Solutions with Greenfield Services Inc. and was recently featured in the recent CSAE Ottawa-Gatineau Executive.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Latest #CSAE Ottawa Gatineau Executive now available!

In this issue....

  • Ottawa Rocks!  See who has won some of the awards at the September 2013 CSAE National Conference & Showcase from the chapter.  Congrats everyone!
  • Our Chapter President, Susie Grynol, writes about the "New Now" in her Presidents Column
  • Check out our re-caps on the September Kick-Off at the Brookstreet Hotel.
  • Engaging Younger Generations is as hot a topic as ever - and the chapter had a panel discussion about this in September.  Check out the re-cap available if you were not able to attend.
  • Are you thriving or surviving in your current work situation?  Alan Kearns of CareerJoy discusses Generational Leadership.
  • View our most recent grads of the CAE Program - congrats to everyone!
  • Carleton University Launches its First Master's Program in Philanthropy and Non-Profit Leadership - get more info here.
  • Daniel Brunette spoke with us in October at our lunch on Successful Fundraising Strategies - read the re-cap if you missed the lunch
  • Meagan Rockett talks about member segmentation and Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation in the "Invest In Your Future" Article
  • Do you work in (or, are interested in) Marketing & Communications, in the association space?  Our MarCom group may be just the thing for you!  Check out the line-up for discussions this year.
  • In October, we also had a 1/2 day session on association tradeshows and non-dues revenue.  A great set of roundtable discussions, with a panel of experts too!  If you missed it, read the re-cap here

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Social Media & Your Association Event

The importance of social media and promoting your event is obvious, and there are several examples of organizations using it very well to ensure that the right conversations are taking place.  However, there are still many trying to figure out how to keep the conversation going (if it even gets started in the first place).

Be Prepared:  Create a calendar of posts to generate interest and excitement. This can include ensure that your exhibitors and sponsors are recognized, putting out a call for volunteers, looking for (and announcing) speakers, determining what content to have in the sessions, etc.

No matter how many networks you use (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) you need to create and maintain your unique following, which includes your members, exhibitors, sponsors, and speakers/presenters participating as well.  Explain the unique benefits of including themselves on the conversation.

Other tools:  Prepare to be low-tech as well as high-tech.  Technology has its challenges, so ensure that you have a backup plan for power shortages, the password for the WI-FI, etc.  To do this, ensure that you have a hard copy of the program printed ahead of time.  Ensure you know the twitter handles of the people you will need to mention, and note them down (which will avoid accidental mistakes).

Whether you use your smartphone, tablet, laptop, etc. make sure that you bring your chargers for everything.  Some conferences have charging stations, but you cannot count on it – so prepare for the inevitable – when your battery is low, and you have only gone through half the day!

Keep it going:  Measure people’s opinion on the content after the fact.  How did they find the session?  Was it of value?  How did they like the speaker?  Were they knowledgeable?

The adage of quality over quantity could not be truer for social media. It’s not about an “info dump”, but having a conversation. It’s not only about making information accessible on the day of, but engaging with people who want to participate long after the booths are down.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Been There, Done That: Lessons Learned

When the Roundtable PACE committee came together back in August we began discussing what options we could bring to the membership to enhance the learning experience at the roundtable luncheon coming up on November 21st at the Minto Suites Hotel. This is our third luncheon event and we hoped to switch things up a little bit from having a presenter introduce a topic and let the discussion flow from there.

As we began talking to one another, stories of our experiences started to emerge; we were bonding, sharing our “been there, done that” points of view and learning from one another. There came the idea that we would utilize case studies as the format to get the table discussions going.

We asked our moderators to prepare a real life case study and to:

  1. Describe the business situation and challenge
  2. Identify the options that were considered
  3. Justify the decision they took
  4. And share the lessons learned 

Here is what they came back with:

Table #1
Strategic Planning: How the Institute On Governance translated a loosely-formed organizational vision into a successful, solidly established “think tank”.
Moderator:  Tim Plumptre, Tim Plumptre & Associates

Table #2
Membership Growth, Retention and Engagement: How the CBA identified a new target market, their needs and evolved in order to stay relevant.
Moderators: Sean Kelly, Canadian Bar Association and Cindy Bisson, ACART Communications

Table #3
Technology: Event Apps - Why do I need an app? What the planner needs to know.
Moderators: Patricia Pearson, Brent Moore & Associates and Allan Isfan, Fave Quest

Table #4
Strategic Marketing: How this Canadian based Association was able to build attendance and reach a new audience after the game was already in play.
Moderator: Meagan Rockett, Greenfield Services

Table #5
Risk Management and Contingency Plans for Conferences: How the CLA/ALA Joint Conference survived the SARS epidemic and how the CLA Conference worked around a Labour Union strike. 
Moderator: Judy Green, Canadian Library Association (CLA)

Table #6
Social Media: How the CDHA built 8,222 likes on Facebook and have 443 people talking about this.
Moderator: Angie D’Aoust, Canadian Dental Hygienists Association (CDHA)

Table #7
Human Resources: The Next Generation of Association Members at ‘Your Credit Union’ – A Millennial Audit
Moderator: David Coletto, Abacus

Table #8
Strategic Planning: Hosting International Meetings and Conferences – How CALA hosted 65 countries at their International Joint Annual Meeting.
Moderator: Charlie Brimley, Canadian Association for Laboratory Accreditation Inc. (CALA)

Table #9
Volunteer Management: How the ACA preserved organizational knowledge from their retiring long-standing leaders and members. 
Moderator: Duncan Grant, The Association of Canadian Archivists (ACA)

Table #10
Fundraising: When faced with a financial reduction, how did the Canadian Aids Society identify a new fundraiser that would successfully raise funds, awareness and be unique.
Moderator: Monique Doolittle-Romas, Canadian AIDS Society

Table #11
Cloud Computing: How an industry association transitioned and engaged its membership abroad into working from the Cloud.
Moderator: Jill Austin, Microworks

Table #12
Financial Management: Uncertainty, cash flow issues and no financial credit - How a national association with $2M in revenue was able to turn themselves around and focus on strategic objectives with meaningful financial reports.  
Moderator: Richard MacNeill, OTUS Group

Table #13
Governance – Corporation Act: The new Canada Not-For-Profit Corporations Act means that all federally incorporated not-for-profit corporations must transition to the new Act before October 17, 2014 or be dissolved. Are you ready?
Moderator: Georges Lozano, AMCES

For more information on these topics and to register, please click here.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The Events Corner: November 2013

This November, there is a ton of networking and learning opportunities taking place in the chapter. What a great group we have!

Have you been thinking about adding a blog to your associations’ repertoire?  What’s stopping you?  Maybe you have concerns about how often you should post, who should be writing and managing the blog, and what kind of benefit it would provide to your community.  Well then let’s talk about it!  Our Marcomm group is having their November session on this very topic, and it’s complimentary to attend.  Click here for more information and to register.

Are you under 35 in the association space?  Or, perhaps you have staff that fit that criteria?  Is it time to get networking with other Young Professionals to share experiences, ask questions, and meet new people?  Our recently launched Young Professionals Program has been designed to do just that – and in a format that is suited to enhance the experience!  Our launch party will be taking place on November 13th, don’t miss it!

Our monthly lunch session takes place on November 21st, and will be held at the Minto Suite Hotel.  This month, back by popular demand is our Roundtable discussions.  Stay tuned for more info, but don’t wait to register (spaces are limited and will go quickly).  Click here for more info.

As an executive, have you been concerned about getting the most (and best) value from Human Resources, with a very tight budget?  How to engage employees?  How to keep them, and keep them productive?  And, how to cover yourself appropriately with the right employment contract?  On November 26th, we are going to have a breakfast session addressing just that.  Taking place at the Radisson Ottawa, our presenter Christine Roy will lead you down the path of success.  Register for the event today!

What’s new in social media?  Our chapter strives to ensure that we are sharing the most relevant information with you on our various social media accounts.  Take a moment and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn Groups.  Please note, that there is a special group just for Marketing & Communication professionals!

If you are interested in submitting a blog, please check out our guidelines and let us know.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Delivering the Intangible Benefits of Membership – A Conundrum

Associations are in the business of connecting people, whether it is connecting members to government, members to members or members to products and services.  The irony of this is that as society becomes more and more connected, that associations some would argue are becoming irrelevant.  Gone are the days when belonging to a professional association was a given.  Back in the day, belonging came as second nature and it was the ‘stickiness’ of community that drew professionals into the association web of their peers.
Today’s professional is seeking a memorable user experience and the return on investment that they are seeking means that ‘one-size fits all solution’ no longer works.

Understanding and responding to our segmented communities is one of the keys to survival in the 21st century association world.

My association’s mandate is to be the voice of our profession and the federal government and other stakeholders turn to us for information or feedback on particular topics.  While this is a noteworthy objective, it could be argued that it is an intangible benefit that on a macro level benefits our community as a whole but has little immediate practical value for individual members.  One can argue that this benefit accrues to the whole community regardless of membership status and so is taken for granted.

Delivering value to my association’s present and future members means that we are working harder to demonstrate both the tangible and more importantly the intangible benefit to belonging.  ‘Belonging’ is the key word in that last sentence, because ‘belonging’ in my view is the key reason that members will join and remain engaged.  The challenge and opportunity for associations in general is that members and potential members don’t perceive this ‘belonging’ as reason to join and stay and so our challenge continues to be to quantify and market what ‘belonging’ means.   I believe that it entails a complex mix of elements but in essence it is in this complex bonding, that the core of membership value is to be found.  I would argue that it is only after a number of years that this benefit is manifest.  So how do we keep those new members from leaving after the first or second year, when they really have not experienced the full potential of the experience that long standing members value so much?

Many of the professionals who interact with my association are not members, but will identify with the community we serve in many ways.  Two years ago, we threw open our doors to non-members to engage with us and this initiative is being encouraged as a way to ‘test-drive’ the association to potential future members.  Grappling with this large non-member population is an interesting challenge, because while they are not (yet) members, they perceive themselves as having a voice in what goes on in the community.  The opportunities presented are many:  we are now in a position to communicate directly with them on topics that are of interest to them; we can promote opportunities to them to engage with members through research, and through our conference and professional development events and lastly we can offer our corporate members a wider viewing audience for their goods and services.

In this networked and connected world of ours, it can be argued that our members no longer need us to associate and collaborate.   I would argue that associations still offer a unique and valuable opportunity to bring people, ideas, products and services together.  Our challenge continues to be to offer the potential, new and longstanding member an experience where they feel valued and where they perceive that their collaborative efforts will support the community, strengthen relationships with stakeholders and government to better serve Canadians.  The associations that will survive and thrive will be distinguished by their courage and creativity and more importantly, members and non-members will have internalized the notion that the value of membership rests not just with tangible benefits but also in the intangible value of belonging.  Belonging means there is an interactive relationship between the association and the member, both are benefiting in different ways, with the net result being that the association and the community becoming stronger and more resilient.

Geraldine Hyland CAE is Member Services Manager with the Canadian Library Association.  She has worked for over fifteen years in charities and not for profit sector and received her CAE in 2004.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Successful Fundraising Strategies

Good day everyone,

I am honored to have been asked to speak at the upcoming luncheon and look forward to demystifying the subject, sharing best practices and helping you identify and avoid common pitfalls.

The word “fundraising” often causes eyes to roll or feet to shuffle, and has even been known to evoke emotions of pure terror for those who are asked to get involved.... The reality is that revenue generation can and should take on many forms in order to help organizations be sustainable. This presentation is intended to present various scenarios that could be used to diversify and increase revenues; while at the same time making it clear what can and cannot be done legally depending on the type of organization conducting the activity.

There are a number of strategies and best practices that will be shared and discussed, but (spoiler) - none of them involve hiring a knight in shining armor who will go out into the world on a white horse and bring back the resources you need to meet your current needs and those of tomorrow. Fundraising cannot thrive in a silo and that is true for small one-person shops to large multi-nationals.

The reality is that any type of revenue generation, be it from dues, ongoing operations, programs, sponsorships or traditional fundraising cannot exist in a vacuum if the organization wishes to accomplish its impact goals.

In order to get the most out of the day, I encourage every potential attendee to come in to the session with two perspectives in hand:

The first being that of the Association Executive, who has a good understanding of the existing revenue streams, membership demographics, goals of the association and knowledge of what keeps the Board members awake at night.

Secondly as a human being… I invite folks to do a bit of introspection and reflect on the reasons why they chose to give (or not) of their own time, talent and treasure to the multitude of associations and causes around them.

Key Takeaways:

  • The basic processes and revenue generation strategies for not-for-profits with and without charitable status.
  • The depth and breadth of the charitable sector.
  • Crucial questions and requirements when considering a broader fundraising strategy.
  • Key motivations related to giving and increased member engagement
  • Common mistakes and pitfalls.

I look forward to meeting you soon.


This post was submitted by Daniel Brunette.  Daniel will be presenting at the October 16th lunch for the Chapter, discussing Fundraising Strategies.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

The Events Corner: October 2013

Is your role in Marketing and/or Communications within the association sector?  Did you know that there is a MarComm subgroup within the chapter?

Our champions Jennifer Hagen and Angie D’Aoust are looking forward to meeting with you to discuss key topics within this specific realm and learning from each other.

On Tuesday, October 8th, the first session of the year is taking place at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce offices to finalize their topics for discussion this year.

These events are complimentary to attend, and are a great way to meet people in other associations, who are in a position to help, or share ideas with.  If you would like to provide your input in advance of the meeting, please take the online survey. Or, to register for the event, please click here.

In October the Ottawa-Gatineau CSAE Chapter will be focusing on Tradeshows and Fundraising.  Here is what is coming up to stay tuned for/attend:

The chapter will be offering a ½ day workshop on October 16th on Tradeshows and Non-Dues Revenue.

Attending this workshop will provide delegates with the opportunity to hear industry experts participate in a panel discussion addressing the following:

  • The challenges in selling exhibit space
  • Providing value for dollars spent to exhibitors
  • Technology and tools used to attract the right attendees
  • Providing value to attendees
  • Booth etiquette for exhibitors

Moderated by the chapters Executive Director, Nancy Barrett, we welcome Martine Proulx (CADSI), Debbie van der Beek (Ignite Magazine) and Ian Forsyth (Caneast Shows Inc) and look forward to their wealth of knowledge in this area.

And we didn’t stop there!  There will be round table discussions following the panel addressing sponsorship, tradeshows and social media, venue selection and selling to associations.

Right after the workshop, we will also be having a lunch & learn session, welcoming Daniel Brunette (AFP), who will discuss fundraising, the challenges, the pitfalls, and different ways to ensure a successful campaign.

Daniel will be giving attendees some strategy, processes and other tips and best practices, and address what we should do to ensure a broader, successful fundraising strategy.

You can register several ways: Attend the workshop only, the lunch only, or join us for both.  Click here to register.

The chapter looks forward to this great professional development day at the Ottawa Conference & Event Centre.  We hope to see you all there!

Are you looking to share your expertise in a certain area of association management?  If so, we are looking for you!  There is a call for moderators for the November 21st lunch.  For more details, click here.

Interested in submitting an article for the blog?  Please review our Blog Submission Guidelines, and reach out.  We would be happy to further discuss and ge
t your opinions out there!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Are you spamming? CASL & Association Implications

Association Executives should be getting ready to ensure that their email communications are compliant with the impending Anti-Spam Legislation; and getting your email communications practices in line with the law should be a priority now - before the law is formally in place.

Why?  Because of the simplest ways to ensure that consent was obtained is to get it started by email - which you will not be able to do with a good portion of your community after the law is in effect.

What are some of the top things to think about when preparing for CASL?  Here are our recommendations:

  • In terms of the legislation, "commercial" is defined as the content of the message; or “ any electronic message that encourages participation in a commercial activity – whether or not there is profit”,  and not the sender of the message.  When assessing your communication material, please include all email messages that include some form of commercial activity.
  • Recipients must give consent to receive commercial emails. 
  • There are two forms of consent: "Implied" is considered to be assumed consent based on past relationships within the last two years.  These at this time can be considered your members.  "Express" consent is considered to be the primary type of consent that you should be looking to obtain, and is where the contact (in this case, non-members, or other stakeholders), have provided you with their consent verbally or in writing to receive commercial email messages from you. Express consent is valid until the recipient has unsubscribed from your communication.
  • Going forward, organizations should ensure that your CRM is capable of saving the following information:  communication preferences for members, non-members and other stakeholders (including sponsors and exhibitors), a field indicating whether implied or express consent has been obtained; and a date field to store the date that consent was obtained.
  • CASL applies to any commercial electronic message (email) that updates a contact on new information on the organization, promotes a product or service, invites a contact to a conference or event, invites your community of partners to sponsor or exhibit, etc.

It is recommended to all organizations to get started NOW, and save the organization time and resources in the future.

For more information, please consult

Image courtesy of

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Not all attrition is created equal

You’ll sometimes hear people point out that 10% annual attrition means you are replacing 30% of your membership every 3 years (assuming you’re keeping the membership levels up).

It’s a pretty galvanizing statement, and handy as a rule of thumb. But the problem is, it’s not true.

Well, it’s true if you’re talking about the number of members you have to recruit. But it’s not true if you’re talking about your overall membership base, unless your membership is homogenous. Which most aren’t. Sometimes a 10% churn rate after 3 years can mean you still have 90% of the people you started with.

Let me illustrate. To keep things simple, let’s assume we’re talking about organizations that can replace any members they lose, but keep membership flat overall.

In Association ABC, the members are indeed homogenous. Any member is equally likely to leave as any other. Imagine it as 10 people entering a room together in Year Zero. In Year One, someone leaves, and is replaced. In Year Two, a different person leaves, and is replaced. Same thing in Year Three. The comparison between the membership in that 3-year time span would look like this:

As you can see, within 3 years, the organization only has 70% of the members it began that timeframe with. A full 30% are new within 3 years. 

Now, let’s look at another organization Association XYZ. In this one, for simplicity’s sake, there are two segments – Loyalists, and Shoppers. In Year Zero, 9Loyalists, and 1 Shopper. 

In Year One, the Shopper leaves to go look elsewhere. Now, let’s imagine they’re replaced by another Shopper. 

In Year Two, the Shopper again is the one who leaves, replaced again by a Shopper. 

In Year Three, again it’s the Shopper who leaves. 

And here’s what the changes in the membership over the three-year timespan will look like:

In this case, new members are only 10% of the total, even though both organizations have had to bring in the same number of new members over this period and had the same attrition rate of 10% per year.  

To be sure, these are highly simplified examples. But what I would argue they illustrate is that to understand attrition, you also need an understanding of segmentation, and the loyalty of different segments, because they will lead you to different conclusions and different actions. 

People are not equally likely to leave the organization. People have different levels of commitment to the industry, to the profession, to professional life at all. People move out of the province or country, chuck it all to buy a winery in the South of France (or Prince Edward County), get a different job that’s relevant to the association, or sell their business to a consolidator. And some leave because of the association itself – political differences, service issues, lack of membership value that speaks to them and their aspirations. 

Some do nothing of the sort, and simply stay put. 

The questions you need to answer include what factors make someone more likely to leave? To stay? What type of member is most likely to indicate high loyalty to the organization on their member needs assessment survey? What type of member signals an intention to leave the industry entirely within 5 years? What parameters matter: age, duration of membership, seniority in the field, geography (provincial? urban/rural? in the same city as a local office?), level of education, involvement with the organization, attendance at the conference in the past 3 years? 

It’s also relevant to compare your membership attrition rates with rates in the industry altogether. A certain percentage of people enters and leaves a field in a given year. Do your rates match that? Are they higher, or lower? What do you want them to be? 

Without a good idea of what makes your members tick, and how they are different from each other, it’s very difficult to interpret data on attrition. It’s important to keep an eye on it, but also to remember that not all attrition is created equal. 

Meredith Low provided this guest post.  She is a management consultant, focusing on helping organizations and companies understand how, when, and where to grow in the context of fast-changing environments. Her work with associations includes leading strategic and tactical planning, performing assessments to position conferences and meetings for growth and durability, and assessing the needs of members and other stakeholders.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

David Coletto on engaging younger generations

Millennial Members – We’ll Come to You

It’s easy to overlook things about this generation when you’re not connected to anyone from this age group. If you try to think about what an average day is like for a Canadian Millennial you will probably think about someone who you know from this age group, maybe your son or daughter or niece or nephew, a neighbour’s kid or a new employee at work.

Your perception, the way you imagine, an average day for this person might be close to accurate. But the most important to think about is that people in this age group are all over the map when it comes to life stage. You might understand those kids who walk past your house on their way to high school every morning. But this is a completely different life than those who are just a few years older and living on campus in university. And completely different from those who are only a few years older than that who are looking for their first job in their field and thinking about saving up for a house or car.

Some are studying, some are working full time, some are working part time, some are having children of their own and some are still living in their parents’ basements. 

We consider all those born between the years of 1980 and 2000 to be Millennials or members of Generation Y. This is the key group of young people that organizations are aiming to target today as they seek to develop their careers and follow their passions.

For associations, Millennials represent the next wave of members, conference attendees or donors, leaving them to ask two important questions; Who am I looking for? And how do I reach them?

Abacus Data’s Canadian Millennial Research Practice has developed a proprietary segmentation model of the different personality and life style clusters that fall within this generation. The Stampeders are one of the six segments; made up of younger males who want it all – they are athletic, career-oriented and they are always the first to get the newest technology and learn the newest trend. On the other hand the Pacers, another group made up mostly of male Millennials are content to stay at home and would rather be surfing the net or playing video games than going out.

It is important for the organization to really understand who they’re looking for before they think about how to reach them and interact with them.

Association members who are Pacers might not want to go to ten networking pub events this year. They might rather participate in an online forum. If you’re seeking out those in the Stampeders group then a well-planned, invite-only networking event would likely be more appealing.
As young people operating in a social-media world, Millennials are always looking to define themselves. They will seek out hobbies and interests, additional education, books, films, video games, Facebook statuses that help them to define their personal brand.

Sarah Sladek’s book, the End of Membership As We Know it: Building the Fortune-Flipping, Must-Have Association of the Next Century talks about carving out your niche, showing the benefits of membership and focusing on member ROI instead of program ROI.

We think this is good advice. How do we know? Well for one, we are all Millennials. But second, Millennials are unlike any generation before. Think of us as one huge group (24% of the Canadian population) who spent most of our lives in some institutionalized environment (day care to post-secondary) receiving constant feedback and being told that we can achieve anything. Only to find out that all our dreams can’t come true even though we have 500 friends on Facebook.

We love customization, think we are all special (because you told us we were), and have adopted personal brands.

So how does your association deal with us? Here are three tips:

Carve out your Niche

If your organization has figured out who it is you’re looking for the next step is easy; let the Millennials come to you. Usually people in this age group will do their research ahead of time. If you articulate the benefits of your organization, in a way that is authentic, they will find out themselves if you are what they’re looking for and they’ll find you.

Who’s going to be there? Is it my scene? Is it a better way to spend my time than hanging out at home or with friends or seeing a movie?  Is it better than the other place?

If you can help those in your Millennial target to answer some of these questions easier – with photos, social media interaction, a simple website then you help them to understand that the organization will fit in with their personal brand.

Show the benefits of Membership

From our 2012 study we know that the Millennial generation is interested in opportunities for education and networking. Most notably they are seeking opportunities for mentorship at a much higher rate than older generations.

Understand your target and understand what they’re looking for from your association. When you understand what the target group is looking for, then you can better communicate the benefits your association provides them.

Consider the results from a survey we conducted last year when we asked Canadians who are employed to rank possible benefits of joining an association. 29 % ranked skills and education first, followed by network.

But when we compare results between Millennials and older generations we can tell that there are differing expectations. The Millennials are far more interested in education and far less interested in networking events.

This is probably because we have extensive networks of our own through online connections to basically everyone we’ve ever met. Instead we value opportunities for real mentorship and ways to help us develop our own leadership skills.

The chart below shows which of the possible association benefits Millennials value most (and least).

Focus on member ROI instead of program ROI

The third most important thing that will help you let the Millennials come to you is to enable your current Millennial members to promote the organization among their own groups of friends and networks.

By allowing them to share events and news about the organization on their own social media networks, they can directly emphasize the activities they are participating in and the cool things they’re learning about as a member.

Again, it is essential that you understand the target because different segment groups will have different interests and seek to share about different things in different ways, online and in person, on campus or at work.


It won’t be easy getting Millennials to join and participate in your association, but the survival of the organization likely depends on it.

Get to know your members, target services and messages to them based on their preferences AND personalities and deliver what you promise. Research this generation, and research who it is that your organization is looking to attract.

Abacus Data’s Canadian Millennial Research Practice

To succeed, organizations need to understand and engage this generation.

Our company practice was founded to help marketers and policy drivers understand where to start when it comes to engaging the Millennial generation.

Gen Y, or those in their teens, 20’s and early 30’s today are an elusive group when it comes to tracking and traditional market research methods. We found it necessary to expand and innovate recruitment, messaging and the channels used to measure Millennial opinions and find feedback.

Our Millennial research team sets out to find who you’re looking for and ask them the right questions, the right way to optimize your campaign efforts.

David Coletto, PhD is CEO of Abacus Data, a full service market research firm with offices in Ottawa and Toronto specializing in public affairs, association, and consumer research.  

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The Events Corner: September 2013

Membership is the theme for September with our chapter, and it is shaping up to be a great month!

As association executives, we strive to find the answers to the following questions:

-- What is the life expectancy of our association and its membership?

-- Gen X, Gen Y, Millennial… the list goes on.  How do we attract them to our organization?

-- OK, so we got them.  How are we going to keep them?

There are several books, articles, whitepapers and other research out there by well-respected individuals, but sometimes it helps to gain insight live at an education session.

Join us on September 25th at the Sheraton Ottawa when David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data moderates a very special panel of our chapter peers and discusses this very topic, with examples of how to get there.

Stay tuned to the blog: David will be posting before the lunch about this very topic!

Other notices:

Final Reminder:  The Chapter’s September Kick-Off is taking place at the Brookstreet Hotel on September 5th.  We look forward to welcoming everyone back after a wonderful summer!

Still undecided about CSAE National Conference and Showcase?  Check out their line-up of education sessions.  There are many options to choose from.  There is still a small window of time to register!

For our Business Members:  Please mark your calendars for September 24th at noon, when registration opens for exhibitors for our 2014 installment of Tête-à-Tête Tradeshow.  Registration will sell out quickly, so please don’t forget to reserve your spot!

Interested in submitting an article for the blog?  Please review our Blog Submission Guidelines, and reach out.  We would be happy to further discuss and get your opinions out there!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

How Necessary is “Industry-Specific” Knowledge for Executives?

For some time, I’ve had the off and on discussion with colleagues and even executive recruiters on the topic of what makes a good Executive Director.  Inevitably, the obvious subjects of knowledge of governance, management, organizational development and even good marketing (many other subjects to that would make the list too exhaustive) skills come up.

However, I’ve also noted that as the conversation continues, industry-specific knowledge remains as the discussion point that carries us along the most.

There are CSOs who work in associations and come to their roles with experience built up  specifically within the sectors their association represents.  On the other hand, there are others who come to their role as association management experts with general knowledge from a variety or sectors associations may represent.

Which is better?  An industry specific background to lead an association or is management experience in various associations better?  There may or may not be one direct answer that fits all situations but I do believe it is a debate that begs more thorough discussion in the association world.  I believe it is one where Boards tend to favour their own while executives tend to be more open to the idea that someone can learn “the issues”.

For completion of my CAE designation, I drafted a brief paper discussing this issue (see below).  What do you think?

This post was submitted by Mark Buzan, CAE, Executive Director of the Canadian Dental Assistants Association.  Mark is an association management executive with nearly 16 years experience effectively working with a variety of national nonprofit boards. Mark has directed planning initiatives, strategy & business operation plans, written governance policies, & managed annual budgets to meet organizational goals & optimize organizational effectiveness. He also has a solid reputation for building, managing & promoting member programs to increase bottom-line with improved member services & benefits.

Specializing in strategic communications & government relations, he is a relationship builder in public relations, government relations, social media, & stakeholder relations in roles such as a Stakeholder Liaison, Senior Communications, & Executive Director.  Mark is Public Relations accredited, a Certified Association Executive, & CoAuthor of Online PR & Social Media for Not-for-Profits & Associations.

Image courtesy of

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Message from the President

Welcome to our CSAE OG blog spot! 

Thank you for your interest in blogging with us. The idea behind our blog is to create a space for members of our Ottawa-Gatineau chapter to connect and share ideas. One of our primary goals as your local association is to build communities, both real and virtual, where you can track best practices and pick up practical take-aways for immediate application to your day job.

Be a part of the conversation! 

The intent of this blog is to spark ideas about an issue or trend in an area of association management. Your comments on the matter are welcomed and encouraged.

Be a conversation starter! 

If there is something keeping you up at night in your association work and you want to share an observation or idea, put your hand up! Contact one of our Communications Committee Co-Chairs to put your name forward:

François Brunet  
Co-Chair Communications Committee                    

Dawn Kelly
Co-Chair Communications Committee

**Note that bloggers will be selected based on subject matter and relevance.

Add our blog to your newsfeed so you can keep yourself up-to-date on association trends and issues. Check back frequently for updates on content.

Thanks for being engaged.

Susie Grynol, CAE
CSAE OG President

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The Ottawa-Gatineau Chapter of CSAE is back in full-force!

September is fast approaching, and after a two month hiatus, we are looking to welcome all chapter members back to our upcoming events.

We are starting our 2013-2014 program on a high - the Brookstreet Hotel will be host to our Annual September Kick-Off this year.

We encourage all members to attend this FREE event, and learn more about the committees, and re-connect with or meet new colleagues.

"I hope everyone enjoyed their summer and I look forward to seeing everyone at the CSAE September Kick-Off Dinner on September 5th at Brookstreet Hotel. We are looking forward to hosting you and for those interested, we will be offering short tours of our facility. See you all soon." Marc Forgette, Sales Manager

Registration is now open, and we look forward to seeing you all there!

Are you going to CSAE National?

If you have yet to register, CSAE National Conference & Showcase is shaping up to be a fantastic conference this year. Take a moment to check out the conference sessions, and register. We hope to see many Ottawa-Gatineau members at the conference this year!

Stay tuned!

Our Fall Series of Lunch & Learn opportunities will be announced soon, and September 25th will be our first of the season. Keep an eye out on the blog for more information, or click here for our Events page.

Têtê-à-Têtê will be on February 6th at the Ottawa Convention Centre. Industry suppliers take note – exhibitor registration opens on Tuesday, September 24th at noon. Space WILL sell out quickly, so mark your calendars! For exhibitor pricing details, please click here. Association executives mark your calendars – registration will open later this fall.

Do you have questions on how to get involved locally, or are you interested in submitting a post to our blog? Feel free to contact us, we would be happy to send you a copy of the blog guidelines, and help you find the right committee for you!