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Katherine Mandusic Finley, Ph.D., CAE, CFRE, CMP

Recent Posts

Micromanagement on Steroids

Posted by Katherine Mandusic Finley, Ph.D., CAE, CFRE, CMP on Oct 24, 2018 12:58:00 PM

Everyone who has ever worked for a board of directors has probably experienced board members who micromanage. Some of these individuals act as if they are on steroids and really “get into the weeds.” For example, at my first board meeting that I attended as a new executive director, the board spent four hours determining what type of shirt they would wear at the upcoming spring convention. They debated the color, the style (golf shirt, t-shirt, dress shirt), and whether the logo would be imprinted on the shirt or embroidered. Meanwhile, they breezed through decisions that really required some thought and greatly affected the future of the association. At another association, a board president called me at home on Labor Day to “stop the presses” on printing the board book. I had sent him an advanced copy, and it had 24 tabs in it. He wanted 25 and felt that I had incorrectly combined two sections that needed separate tabs. Really? This was worth a call to me on a holiday?

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Get Focused on Member Value

Posted by Katherine Mandusic Finley, Ph.D., CAE, CFRE, CMP on Sep 12, 2018 9:00:00 AM

“Get Focused” was the theme of this year’s ASAE meeting held in Chicago, August 18-21. ASAE gives association executives an opportunity to leave their office issues and problems behind for a few days (or at least in theory) and “get focused” on making their associations better.

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Avoid Bright Shiny Object/Rusty Piece of Junk Syndromes

Posted by Katherine Mandusic Finley, Ph.D., CAE, CFRE, CMP on Jun 21, 2018 11:11:00 AM

Board and committees often propose projects that they claim will bring in lots of money, won’t require any money or staff time, are horribly complicated and misguided, and divert staff and money from other important projects. In short, the board or committee (or even staff) focuses on the “bright shiny object” to the detriment of other programs and services. The reverse of this scenario is when projects don’t produce money nor do they keep or retain members (and may not even be in line with the organization’s mission), but the board refuses to terminate them. Then those once shiny objects become rusty pieces of junk costing the association resources and staff time but not helping increase revenue or visibility of the association.

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Retaining new members through a new member orientation webinar

Posted by Katherine Mandusic Finley, Ph.D., CAE, CFRE, CMP on Jan 3, 2018 11:30:00 AM

According to Marketing General (in their 2017 Membership Marking Benchmarking Report), the retention rate among new members for individual membership associations averages 64 percent. This is much lower than the overall member retention rate, which averages 77 percent. Therefore, it is important associations engage new members as quickly as possible after they join.

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Topics: Members, membership, digital technology, Association Executives, Association Management, Member Recruitment and Retention, Trends, Association trends, Innovation, Webinar

7 Trends for Associations

Posted by Katherine Mandusic Finley, Ph.D., CAE, CFRE, CMP on Nov 8, 2017 9:15:00 AM

Did you know that according to BuzzFeed, big hair, big round glasses, and putting pink pom-poms on everything will be a few of the “fashion” trends of 2017 that we will “cringe about in 2027”? If only keeping up with trends that affect associations were as easy as changing hairdressers, going on the Internet to buy inexpensive (and ugly) glasses, and going to the local dollar store to stock up on pink pom-poms and glue. And wouldn’t it be nice if trends that affect associations could so easily written off ten years later as just a fad. 

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Topics: Association Executives, Association Management, Trends, Association trends, Innovation

Trying to Figure Out the Latest Trends? Use ASAE ForesightWorks

Posted by Katherine Mandusic Finley, Ph.D., CAE, CFRE, CMP on Oct 11, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Developed by the ASAE Foundation, ForesightWorks is an ongoing project which focuses on environmental scanning and trends. However, this is far more than just a list of the newest trends. For each trend, ASAE produces an "action brief"  summarizing the trend and forecasting the trend’s future effects.

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Topics: Learning, Leadership, Association Executives, Association Management, Trends, Association trends, tools

Avoid Employment Law Minefields

Posted by Katherine Mandusic Finley, Ph.D., CAE, CFRE, CMP on May 27, 2015 12:00:00 PM

Federal labor laws can be a minefield if an association executive is unfamiliar with them. Knowing about Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and seeking the advice of an attorney are the best ways to avoid litigation.

Title VII gives protection to groups based on age (40 or older), sex, pregnancy, race, color, national origin, genetic information, religion and disability and applies to organizations with 15 or more employees. Also, Title VII protects employees against discrimination, harassment and retaliation.

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Topics: Association, Associations, Employment Law

Cleaning out Your Program and Service Closet — A Recap of the ISAE Workshop on Program Evaluation

Posted by Katherine Mandusic Finley, Ph.D., CAE, CFRE, CMP on Apr 8, 2015 12:00:00 PM

You are probably familiar with the commercial where the “Goodwill Guy” looks inside a closet and divides the packed closet into four parts — clothes you don’t wear, clothes you can’t wear, clothes you shouldn’t wear and clothes you do wear. He notes you should get rid of the first three categories of clothes to make room for more of the latter.

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Topics: Association, Associations, Services, Programs

ASAE 2014 Convention Highlights

Posted by Katherine Mandusic Finley, Ph.D., CAE, CFRE, CMP on Sep 10, 2014 10:00:00 AM


When I attend the ASAE annual meeting, I always assume I will garner a few new ideas that will ultimately result in either cost savings or revenue that will cover my expenses for the meeting. This year, I wasn’t disappointed and in fact attended several sessions that hopefully will result in more efficient association operations and more effective leadership.

Unfortunately, ASAE offers so many sessions so it is difficult to attend all of them. I highlighted a few of the sessions that were particularly interesting including:

  • “Give and Take” presented by Adam Grant
  • “Seven Steps to Develop Your Association’s Value Proposition” presented by Melynn Sight
  • “The True Cost of Free” presented by Rafi Mohammed
  • “Nimble Decision Making: Help Board Leaders Make Better, Timelier Decisions” presented by Elaine La Chappelle and Bill Shepherd of the Ontario Real Estate Association
  • “Five Important Trends in Membership” presented by Sheri Jacobs

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Topics: Conferences, Association, Learning, Associations

Avoid Groundhog Day: Preventing Boredom at an Association

Posted by Katherine Mandusic Finley, Ph.D., CAE, CFRE, CMP on Jul 16, 2014 10:30:00 AM

Oftentimes association executives and staff feel like they are stuck in the 1993 movie, “Groundhog Day." It’s not that the work we do can’t be exciting and provide great satisfaction, but associations by nature have repetitive tasks that can lead to boredom or stagnation for employees.

Each year, we host an annual meeting or meetings, bill dues, thank our volunteers and donors, hold elections, produce publications, hold board meetings, etc. 

Sometimes we fall into a routine only because we have so much work to do, and it is easier to do everything just like the year before because we don’t have time to shake things up. And occasionally, we feel like Bill Murray’s character, Phil Connors, who in the movie doesn’t like his assignment of covering the event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and only grudgingly and routinely does his work. He then gets stuck in a time warp and finds himself repeating Groundhog’s Day over and over again. Nothing changes, day after day, until he changes and instead of concentrating on himself and the task at hand, he began helping others and improving himself.  It is then and only then, does he break the time loop and finally get what he wants from life.

How can we avoid being stuck in a time loop, or to quote Yogi Berra, keep from feeling like “It’s deja vu all over again”?   Keep in mind, I’m not advocating changing everything or creating a crisis.  Below are just a few ideas to keep you from becoming bored and tasks becoming too repetitive. The results will pay off in improved services to members.

  1. Pretend all your letters and templates have been destroyed in a fire. So instead of just going to old thank you letters, welcome letters, and member recruitment letters, ask yourself what information needs to be conveyed and then write new letters and reports.
  2. Attend a webinar, conference, or seminar. ISAE offers a variety of value-priced options for networking and learning like the annual convention, workshops, roundtables, shared interest groups, etc. Most likely, you will learn something new that can “spice things up.” If you can’t find or afford any professional education (although there are low cost or free opportunities), call up a colleague in another association and go to lunch; or better yet, make it a habit to meet once a month with several colleagues to discuss business and brainstorm about new ideas. ISAE also offers a 5:05 p.m. social event where members and prospective members can build and maintain relationships with those who work in the industry.
  3. Find ways to make staff meeting informative, productive and FUN. Here are a few ways to inspire your team to be more innovative. 
  4. Encourage team work by creating teams to re-look at routine association functions; maybe even offer a prize for the team or staff member coming up with the best new idea or improvement to an existing service.
  5. Your publications are probably branded so you don’t want to change the design, but see if you can work to add more or different stories or columns to the design and change the order of the presentation.  In other words, try to keep the publication fresh and exciting.
  6. Develop ideas to make your conventions or annual meetings exciting. Even academic conferences can have interesting and exciting events built into them.

Hopefully, you can share with us ideas you have on how to stop boredom at an association when doing routine work so you aren’t stuck repeating Groundhog Day.


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