Wednesday, June 30, 2010

How Do I Get Hired at an Association?

One of the things I love about being in business for myself is that I constantly can create my own opportunities.  The job market is tough out there and I don't envy anyone looking for a job right now.  However, the nonprofit or association sector is not always considered by job seekers and it should be.  Even in a bad economy, nonprofits and associations can offer tremendous opportunties.  Charlotte Weeks offers advice for job seekers for the nonprofit sectors, however, her advice can apply to all job seekers.  Bunnie

How Do I Get Hired at an Association?
by Charlotte Weeks, Weeks Career Services Inc.

I am a HUGE fan of associations as employers. Generally they pay very competitive wages, treat their employees well, and drive social change. Plus, there’s a focus for just about every interest. So how do you go about getting a job at one of these amazing places?

One of the great things about associations is that they often have something for everyone. If you’re in IT, finance, marketing, management, or administrative work, chances are there’s a position for you. Of course it depends on the specific organization (obviously larger ones have more opportunities), but overall they offer many options.

Once you know the type of role you’d like to target, the next step is to put together a job search strategy. The specifics will vary depending on the person and their goals, but in general you’ll want to do a mix of the following:

1) Network: Most have heard by now that this is the #1 way to get a job. Unfortunately, it can also be one of the slowest, which is why it’s a good idea to work on keeping your network active at all times. Wherever you’re at in your search, targeted networking is the way to go. Spend the bulk of your job search time meeting people who are in a position to hire you, or who can influence those that can.

2) Targeted Company Campaign: Surprisingly, one of the most effective ways to find a job is to identify associations you’d like to work for and apply, WHETHER THEY ARE HIRING OR NOT. Many of my clients are shocked by this method, as it seems to be such a long shot. However, the results can be astounding, especially when this tactic is combined with networking.

3) Recruiters: Approximately 15-20% of positions are found through recruiters. Since they work for companies and not candidates, you may wonder how to get in touch with one. There are basically three ways:

a) First, a recruiter may contact you directly after finding you through contacts or online (LinkedIn specifically being a huge source of recruiter candidates).

b) Second, you can proactively find recruiters yourself through networking events or direct outreach.

c) Lastly, you can send your resume out through a reputable recruiter distribution service.

4) Applying to open positions: It shocks many people to find that this is the LEAST effective way to find a job-only about 10% of people are successful. While it should still be a part of your job search strategy, it’s recommended you spend no more than one hour a day on this method.

As targeted job searches are most effective, remember to keep the end goal in mind at all times. When you network, go to where association employees will be; find recruiters who have clients at these places; and go to industry niche boards instead of those that post for everything.

Though there are always exceptions, these methods have been proven over and over again, and WILL lead you to your next association position.

Charlotte Weeks, CCMC, NCRW, and CPRW helps mission-driven executives find their passion and land at the top! Her association background includes working in human resources at the American Medical Association and leading The National Resume Writers’ Association as president. Charlotte provides comprehensive career coaching and resume services for association managers and executives, and is currently developing an information product line to further help them in their careers. She has been featured in the media multiple times, including in CEO Update, WGN-TV, Yahoo! HotJobs, and Men’s Health Magazine. To receive the free report "The 5 Most Difficult Interview Questions and How to Answer Them!" sign up here:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Beware of Copyrighted Images Used Without Permission

Now here's a subject near and dear to my heart...copyright infringement.  On two separate occasions I've had articles I have written show up in college textbooks without my permission.  Both times I threatened to sue and then settled.  I think what upset me was that I was in the textbooks with some very well known authors, such as Maya Angelou, William Raspberry, even John F. Kennedy.  You can bet they or their estates were asked for permission and they were paid for their work.  There is so much free or fair use material out there, no one needs to violate copyright.  Excellent read and excellent points!  Bunnie

Beware of Copyrighted Images Used Without Permission
by Dan Ehrmann, President, ClubExpress

For most non-profit clubs and associations, funds are always tight. Expenses are carefully managed to stay within budget and you are always working to attract new members, maintain renewals, find donations and solicit sponsorships. So a sudden expense out-of-the-blue can really create problems. Here is an elementary mistake that you should watch out for.

ClubExpress is an Internet platform to help smaller non-profit clubs and associations run their operations, including website, membership database, finances, events, etc. Hundreds of clubs and associations use our platform. A few weeks ago, out of the blue, we received a demand letter from a photo licensing company, requesting a license fee of thousands of dollars for use of a photo on a ClubExpress website. The story of this letter is an important lesson for every non-profit organization because of the potential risk that you might be asked to pay large licensing fees.

Using Google Image Search or similar services, it's easy to find photos on the Internet featuring almost any subject of interest. Once you find a photo, it's trivial to download it to your local hard disk, then upload it to your organization’s website.

Don't. Ever. Do. This.

Photos are copyrighted works, owned by the photographer and sometimes a photo licensing company. These firms (for example, Getty Images), build libraries of millions of photos which they then license out to magazines, advertisers, web designers and others for use in commercial works. License fees can run into the thousands of dollars depending on the resolution desired and on the intended purpose.

Many of these photos appear legitimately on websites because the website owner has licensed the photo and paid the appropriate fee.

The image file (usually a JPG or PNG) is especially encoded by the photo licensing company. They also have bots which cruise websites automatically, looking for image files. When one is found, they download it and look for the encoding. If it's one that they license, they then check to see if you own a license and if you don't, the demand letter is generated. People, companies and organizations that use such photos without a license represent a significant source of revenue for these companies and they will go after you aggressively. And the law is entirely on their side.

ClubExpress is protected under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act because we are considered to be an "Online Service Provider". We are not liable for violations done by our customers on their websites, even though these sites are hosted on our platform. But if an organization’s website manager or officer does this, the organization may be liable for licensing fees for photos which are being used without permission or payment of a license fee.

As administrators, please take a few moments to review all the photos uploaded to your websites, to ensure that you have permission from the photographer or the appropriate licenses to use these photos. Be sure to check every part of your website, including page headers, content boxes and custom pages. You only need to worry about the public side of your site since bots have no way to view members-only content that requires a login. But you should check the whole site.

Photos taken by members and uploaded themselves should not be a problem. When they upload the image, they are giving the club permission to use it for non-commercial purposes. The problem instead is photos that someone has downloaded from another website in order to use on your website. And if the list of website managers changes regularly, be especially cautious of work done on the website by prior admins who may no longer be involved.

Respecting copyrights is not only the law; it's also the right thing to do.


Dan Ehrmann is the founder and President of ClubExpress, an Internet platform to help clubs and associations run heir complete front-office and back-office. He can be reached at

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What’s in a Name? Benefits of the President/CEO Title

This is the second part of Professor Emeritus Eugene Fram's article on the importance of the title of the Executive Director versus Chief Executive Officer.  Have you thought about how titles in your organization are perceived both inside and outside the organization?  Bunnie

What’s in a Name? Benefits of the President/CEO Title
by Eugene Fram, Professor Emeritus, E. Philip Saunders College of Business of the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Over the last 100 years, senior managers of nonprofits typically have held the executive director title. For about the last 30 years, many nonprofits have changed the title to president/CEO, following a common business practice. Many more nonprofits need to consider the same change to obtain some subtle but useful organizational benefits.

Perceptions of the Organization

There appears to be little public understanding of the robust responsibilities of an executive director of larger nonprofits, although a board may have delegated him or her full operational authority. Most persons holding the title can relate stories of how frequently they have had to describe their jobs to persons not familiar with nonprofits. On the other hand, a substantial portion of the population recognizes that a person holding the title of president/CEO is the head of the organization with substantial authority to lead its employees and to direct operations. (Nonprofit senior managers are not the only ones who face this issue. Persons in legal firms with titles of managing partner and those in financial organizations with titles of managing director also face the same title recognition challenges.)

A nonprofit operating head with a president/CEO title can more easily help focus on building the public brand image of the organization through his or her force of personality and the clear perception of who is leading the organization’s mission. She or he should be in the best position to staff the “bully pulpit” for the mission of the organization.

Staff discipline and morale may also be compromised when the executive director title is employed. In local- or regionally-based nonprofit groups, staff members often are personal friends of their board members. It is not unusual to have disaffected staff personnel directly complain to the board when they disagree with one or more of management’s operational or human resource decision.5 It can be hypothesized that some of these cases may have their roots in a lack of understanding of the role of the executive director and who has final operational authority in the organization.

Also, the senior manager from time to time may have opportunities to be interviewed by the media. This can be a critical responsibility when a rapid response to a crisis is needed or an unusual public relations opportunity arises. Consequently, the president/CEO title enables him or her to move quickly and authoritatively; there is no ambiguity related to the leader’s authority.

How leaders and organizations are perceived by stakeholders are realities with which leaders must deal, whether or not the perceptions are accurate. Providing the chief staff officer with the president/CEO title can help develop more desirable internal and external perceptions of the strength of an organization and the responsibilities of the person leading it.

Organization Culture

Organizations which make the title change quite often do so in connection with developing a structure that brings more formality and managerial professionalism to the culture. In the past, years of volunteer involvement in operations often developed a more family culture which is a positive force when the nonprofit is in its early stages. But it is hard to maintain a family environment as the number of employees grows. A new formality, brought about with the senior manger’s title change along with a group of former managers now titled vice presidents, may be seen by older members of the staff as making the operation “uncaring” towards staff and clients.

As time progresses, with the president/CEO being the communications nexus between the board and staff, there will be less personal contact between the two groups This requires the CEO to be concerned that a mistrusting atmosphere may develop. Under his or her guidance, contact between the board and staff can take place on ad hoc committees, on strategic planning projects, at various board orientations, and at organization celebrations. In these ways, the board can seek the participation and advice of all staff in establishing the major programs involved with missions, visions, and values.

If managed properly, the change in top titles and the greater formality it can bring may raise some trust issues with older staff.6 However, management needs to convey a message to the staff that the change is a result of the board placing more trust for operations in the hands of management and staff.

Financial Growth

Some nonprofits take the position that fund development is the responsibility of the board, since board members have the broadest range of community and other outside contacts. With a president/CEO in the top management position, fund development becomes the joint responsibility of the president/CEO, the development person—if one is employed—and board members capable of fund-raising. The new title gives the senior manager the immediate recognition necessary to credibly approach donors and, with the consent of the board, to make commitments on behalf of the organization.

To involve the board more directly, the president/CEO can work collaboratively with board members to develop contacts opened by the board. (As one nonprofit executive person explained the situation, “Top people readily communicate with persons in similar positions.”) In seeking support funds, the new title can open doors and communications that might not be available to one holding an executive director title because the title conveys such an unspecified range of responsibility. It might, per se, even raise an unarticulated question in the minds of some donors as to why the person has not been given the title of president/CEO to clearly demonstrate his or her operating authority.

Summary and Final Thoughts

Compared to the duties of a president/CEO, the duties of an executive director range much more widely on a management activity scale. Some executive directors are simply clericals while others are sophisticated senior executives. Any organization that ignores this fact can leave a psychological gap in public perceptions relating to the group’s strategic posture and the senior manager as a substantial leader. Where warranted by higher responsibility levels, changing a senior manager’s title to president/CEO can help present a better public posture for the senior executive and a better strategic posture for an organization.

4. Eugene Fram, “Changing Expectations for Third Sector Executives,” Human Resource Management, Fall 1980, pp. 8-15. Eugene Fram with Vicki Brown, Policy vs. Paper Clips: Selling the corporate model to your nonprofit board, 1988. 1st edition, 1995, 2nd edition, Families International, Milwaukee.

5. This action is often called an “end run” by nonprofit managers.

6. This also assumes that those directly reporting to the president/CEO are concurrently given vice president titles.

Eugene Fram, Ed.D, is professor emeritus at the E. Philip Saunders College of Business of the Rochester Institute of Technology. In 2008, Fram was awarded the university’s Presidential Medallion for Outstanding Service, and in 1997 he received Rochester Institute of Technology’s highest award for outstanding teaching.

Now semi-retired in California, Fram continues to add to his published list of more than 100 articles, is involved in for-profit and nonprofit consulting, and is frequently quoted in newspapers, magazines and blogs. Marketing, corporate governance, and nonprofit management are his major expertise areas.

Monday, June 7, 2010

What’s in a Name? Benefits of the President/CEO Title

In a bit of an unusual step, I am posting this article in two parts because of the length.  Eugene Fram brings us a topic worthy of discussion.  Certainly game changing, the decision to use Chief Executive Officer versus Executive Director, can say a lot about the organization and even more about the job description of the person at the top.  Perhaps it's time to look at all your organizational titles and give them an update where necessary.  Bunnie

What’s in a Name? Benefits of the President/CEO Title
by Eugene Fram, Professor Emeritus, E. Philip Saunders College of Business of the Rochester Institute of Technology

Over the last 100 years, senior managers of nonprofits typically have held the executive director title. For about the last 30 years, many nonprofits have changed the title to president/CEO, following a common business practice. Many more nonprofits need to consider the same change to obtain some subtle but useful organizational benefits.

A recent study reports that only 22 percent of trade association chief staff officers hold the president/CEO title. For professional societies, the proportion is only 9 percent.1 Many chief staff officers in larger faith-based human service and health-related organizations still hold the executive director title. Even the senior manager of Carnegie Hall in New York City still carries the executive director title.

A wide range of nonprofits use the executive director title: churches, human service agencies, trade associations, and medical facilities. An executive director can be the only manager in a church with an annual budget of $200,000, or be the head of a medical facility with a $10 million annual budget and 200 employees. These significant differences in responsibility levels can serve to:

1. demean the significant contributions of many executive directors in the eyes of some important audiences, and

2. minimize audience perceptions of the contributions of their organizations.

The Executive Director in Nonprofit Organizations

Nonprofit senior mangers are called, “executive director" instead of "chief executive officer" in order to avoid the business connotation which the latter name evokes. … It also distinguishes them from … members of the (volunteer) board of directors from non-executive directors who are not actively involved in running the corporation.”2

Using the title of executive director made sense during the early part of the 20th century when nonprofit organizations were modest ones with a handful of employees, and volunteers regularly filled managerial or service roles. As late as the 1960s, one occasionally witnessed volunteer board members having internal operational roles. Those who advocate for the continued use of the executive director title argue that use of the title is empirical evidence of board involvement in the activities of the organization. However, the negative side of the argument is that continued use of the title leads to board micromanagement of operations, which stunts organizational growth.

Nonprofit organizations became larger and more complex in the latter part of the 20th century. Local professional societies became regional organizations; hospitals became regional health-care systems; and so on. The proportion of volunteers involved in management operations and staff work declined. Consequently the trend to use the president/CEO title became more appealing to focus operational responsibility on management and staff. If properly structured, the title requires the chair and CEO to develop a more trusting professional relationship and assures the stakeholders of higher levels of performance. Organization results become focused on outcomes, not process.

The President/CEO in Nonprofit Organizations

In the latter part of the 20th century, business organizations began to add the title of CEO to the title of either their president position or board chair position.3 The objective was to clearly designate which of the two had final operational authority, except for those actions which are reserved by the firm’s bylaws for the board (usually acquisitions, pension plans, and long term contracts). In the business environment, as contrasted to the nonprofit environment, both the chair and the president can be corporation employees.

About 1980, nonprofit organizations began to mirror business organizations managerially. Many developed marketing departments, installed complex information technology, and a few even hired experienced business executives to head their organizations. The older philosophy, listed above, of “avoiding the businesses connection” was quickly being eroded. Today, specialized programs operated by many associations prepare aspiring nonprofit executives to advance through managerial positions to presidential positions.

Nonprofit boards, after 1980, when hiring new senior managers, offered titles of president/CEO4 and made bylaw provisions for other persons in the senior management teams to become vice presidents.

Nonprofit board chairs can do their job well without final CEO operating authority. Traditionally, chairs are volunteer personnel who should focus board activities on strategic issues not operational concerns. Some president/CEOs even became voting members of their boards, if permitted by their state laws. It was not unusual for some incumbent executive directors to seek the new title, if it was politically expedient. However, many conservative boards still look upon the change as a managerial power grab, which evidently has slowed the change process.

Nearly three decades have passed since the early adopters made the first changes. Yet, as indicated before, there are still thousands of complex nonprofits operationally headed by managers holding the executive director title, although these persons may have robust and complex operational duties.

Changing the title of the chief staff officer to president/CEO can positively influence:

1. the organization’s internal and external perceptions,

2. its culture, and

3. its financial growth.

1. Mark Alcorn, “Evolving Titles for Association Executives,” Articles & Whitepapers, ASAE, September 2006.

2. See Non-executive directors are volunteers who mentor or advise an operating division within the nonprofit, such as the development office.

3. In the nonprofit corporation, the board chair is usually an unpaid volunteer who also might hold the CEO title, indicating that person has final operational authority.

Eugene Fram, Ed.D, is professor emeritus at the E. Philip Saunders College of Business of the Rochester Institute of Technology. In 2008, Fram was awarded the university’s Presidential Medallion for Outstanding Service, and in 1997 he received Rochester Institute of Technology’s highest award for outstanding teaching.

Now semi-retired in California, Fram continues to add to his published list of more than 100 articles, is involved in for-profit and nonprofit consulting, and is frequently quoted in newspapers, magazines and blogs. Marketing, corporate governance, and nonprofit management are his major expertise areas.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

3 Keys to Successful Fundraising in Good Times and Bad

I was just having this conversation is down, times are hard, nonprofits are suffering.  Having said that, I also believe that dwelling on that can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  If you and your organization are having that conversation, it's time to read Sandy Rees' article and pass it around at the next board meeting.  I completely agree, attitude is half the battle.  Bunnie

3 Keys to Successful Fundraising in Good Times and Bad

by Sandy Rees, CFRE

Raising money can be tough, no matter what the economy is doing.

It’s not easy to raise money in a recession. There’s a lot of fear and worry about what will happen. Will people donate? Will they donate as much as last year? What do we do if they don’t?

Your mind and your attitude play a HUGE part in your success as a fundraising. Take this short quiz to see what your attitude toward fundraising this year really is.

True/False quiz

1. Fundraising this year is going to be hard.

2. People aren’t going to give as much as last year.

3. We probably won’t reach our fundraising goals this year.

4. We should probably lower our fundraising goals this year.

5. Things are bad everywhere.

6. All nonprofits are struggling.

7. It’s just the economy and there’s nothing we can do about it.

If you answered “true” to some, most, or all of these questions, you need a major shift in your thinking! No doubt that we’ve all thought one or two or all of these things at one point or another. The trick is to recognize this kind of negative thinking and stop it in its tracks.

Key #1. Get your head in the game.

Your attitude will ultimately determine your success or failure. Before you begin fundraising, it’s critical to get your head in the game.

Don’t assume the economy is affecting people negatively. Many people are just scared and still have money to give. If you assume people won’t give and you stop asking for money, they WILL stop giving.

DON’T get scared and slip into a message of doom and gloom. Stay positive. Stay focused. The minute you buy into the “stinkin thinkin,” your fundraising efforts will start to slide.

Successful fundraising depends on many factors, but it mostly depends on you, the fundraiser. Your knowledge, ability, and attitude determine whether or not you will be successful in reaching your goals. Here are the ten tips to being a successful fundraiser and keeping your head in the game.

1. Have passion for the cause. You must believe deeply in the work you are doing before you can successfully engage other people. Your passion and enthusiasm for the work your organization does is contagious and will attract others.

2. Show genuine concern for people. The more genuine concern you show for the people around you – coworkers, volunteers, donors, etc. – the more likely you will be able to engage them in fundraising. With donors, it’s critical to put their needs first over the needs of the organization.

3. Know yourself. Know your strengths and your weaknesses. Play to your strengths and work on your weaknesses.

4. Believe in yourself. Don’t take it personally if a donor says “no.”

5. Have an attitude of gratitude. Be sincerely grateful to anyone and everyone who helps your organization achieve its mission. Thank donors, thank volunteers, thank the custodian. Thank everyone.

6. Listen well. You were given 2 ears and 1 mouth. Use them accordingly.

7. Nurture your eagerness to learn. Never think that you know it all. Be a lifelong learner. You’ll be more likely to stay ahead of trends and find new ways to raise support.

8. Willingness to work with others. Fundraising is not a solo sport. You must be able to function on a team. Play nice and remember, there’s no I in TEAM.

9. Be flexible. Go with the flow. Don’t get your feathers ruffled at change.

10. Be organized. Manage all your resources, including your time and creativity. When your workspace is tidy, your creativity has more room to expand.

If you’re afraid of what might happen (or not happen) this year, you're not alone. Lots of people are concerned about fundraising. But you can’t let it control you or dictate your actions.

Believe in abundance. There is plenty of money out there for all of us. If everyone in the United States who currently gives to charity would give just 1% more, we’d all be cash-flush! Billions of dollars are donated to nonprofits every year. Our job is to give donors the chance to support OUR nonprofit. Believe in the abundant resources that are out there and you’ll find fundraising easier.

Don’t assume that people won’t give. The truth is that you don’t know WHAT people will do until you give them the opportunity.

Don’t get or sound desperate. People don’t want to support a sinking ship. They want to support organizations that are solid and have a strong game plan.

Speak from your heart and your passion. Enthusiasm is contagious, so spread yours about your cause.

Key #2. Evaluate where you are.

Have a look at the “State of the Union” of your organization or your fundraising efforts. Trim any fundraising activities that aren’t productive. This may not be popular, but it might be necessary.

Cut back expenses where you can. But don’t cut your nose off to spite your face. (Don’t trim your expenses so far that it hampers your ability to deliver service or fundraise effectively!).

Don’t cut back on renewing donors or acquiring new ones. It’s tempting to do this just to save a few dollars, but it’s not worth it. Consider this: Every year, you lose as many as 35% of your donors (don’t believe me? Go have a look.) You must keep acquiring new donors or your donor base will one day shrink to nothing.

Review all your fundraising activities. Leverage and enhance those that are working. Drop those that aren’t.

Key #3. Move forward.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. All great nonprofits started somewhere, so just get moving.

Stay focused on your mission. No matter what else happens, stay true to your mission. After all, that’s the main reason you’re here, right?

Be clear about your goals. Know what you’re trying to accomplish and be able to celebrate when you reach your goals. If you don’t have a written fundraising plan, get one! Having a plan in writing will help keep everyone on the same page and working in unison.

Go back to the basics – get the word out, tell your stories, build relationships. Repeat. You will never go wrong following these basic steps. Tell your stories, tell your stories, tell your stories. This is what donors want to hear.

Love on your donors. Make sure you thank every donor every time. This is no time to skimp on acknowledgement! It’s simple and cheap to thank a donor and the benefits can be great!

Be sure to show your appreciation to your best donors – those folks who are there for you in good times and bad. Don’t ever take them for granted. Be sure that they are clear how much you value their support.

Build relationships with your mid-range donors. This is an often-ignored group in our databases. Pay attention to those people who can rise up and become bigger or major donors.

When you do the right things at the right time for the right reasons, you can be successful in raising money for your organization, regardless of the economy.

contact Sandy at