|Maria Bianchi, CAE|
Maria Bianchi, CAE has worked for the past 15 years in non-profit management. Currently, she serves as Vice President of Association Practices, AMG and Executive Vice President for the American Ambulance Association.
Ever get the feeling that people who have never worked in Associations think that what we do is easy, with little or no rationale for how we accomplish the vision, mission and goals of the Association? I do. In the 25 or so years that I have worked for associations, I have learned that the science of association management and best practices are equally as-- if not more-- important than the art of working with volunteers.
Why? Think back to the tireless work toward your CAE accreditation, all that you’ve learned at ASAE’s Annual Conferences, and the industry publications and blogs you read. The best practices we’ve learned are tried and true methodologies that allow us to get the results we need to fulfill the Association’s strategic mission.
Board meetings are good examples. Your Board meets face to face four times a year. In order to maximize their time together and avoid “bored” meetings, you need to:
• create an environment where active debate and dialogue takes place amongst the Board members,
• provide resources, data and the necessary background information prior to the meeting to prepare Board members for the discussion AND
• frame the conversation in a way that allows the Board to focus on strategic governance and not day to day management.
Following best practices is the only way to accomplish all of the above.
Best practices guide association professionals to set the table for the Board meeting in a way that allows for robust discussion. This allows board members to make policy decisions based on knowledge and facts and not emotional or anecdotal evidence. Emotional decisions are rarely good for the Association or its members. The leadership owes it to their dues paying members to make the best decision possible and this can only be done by using the science, or best practices, in association management and good governance. While relationship management with volunteers may require the art of charisma, it is the science of best practices that will carry the day.
The next association best practice blog? The science of the meeting agenda…