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Board reports reap member benefits.

Readable, timely communication strengthens member relationships.

With more than 80 local chapters, the National Spa and Pool Institute (NSPI), Alexandria, Virginia, needs to communicate a clear and consistent description of board of directors actions to our members.

Until about a year ago, communication consisted only of minutes, available two weeks after the meeting, or brief summaries of key points in our bimonthly newsletter. Added to verbal interpretations by volunteer members to their local chapters, this system of sharing information left members and local leaders confused, mistrustful, and uninformed of actions the organization had taken for their benefit.

In May 1992, NSPI created Leadership Update, a powerful information vehicle that does not replace meeting minutes but provides an immediate, accurate, and understandable summary of NSPI's board activity.

Leadership Update tells the story of the actions taken by the national board purely in terms of their impact on and benefit to the member. It is produced and placed into the hands of 150 local chapter volunteer leaders and staff within 48 hours after each quarterly national board meeting.

Reports received from board members and local leaders since the first issue of Leadership Update validate its success; virtually all of NSPI's chapter newsletters reprint at least part of it.

How it works

Leadership Update doesn't happen in a frenzied two-day crunch following the board meeting. Instead, it is designed, planned, and roughly drafted by a team of NSPI staff members before the meeting. The team follows a tightly scheduled publication program.

Two weeks before the meeting:

* Review board agenda items and background material. (Agenda items must be submitted 28 days before the meeting.)

* Organize items according to category, such as member benefits, committee and council activities, and other news.

* Confirm recipients' fax numbers in a faxboard-equipped PC.

One week before the meeting:

* Write first draft. Each story is told in terms of the action's specific benefit to members, in a format that can be used by speakers and in newsletters.

* Prepare two versions of each item to allow for all possible outcomes.

* Create stories that outline the benefits of other national committee actions; these are incorporated into the update.

The day after the meeting:

* Adapt appropriate stories to reflect actual board actions.

* Draft and include stories of any nonagenda action items that offer membership benefits.

* Proof copy for final review by the chief executive officer.

Two days after:

* Print final copy, using in-house desktop publishing.

* Send to faxboard and fax to 150 local leaders beginning at 5 p.m.

* Mail hard photocopies to the same list, piggybacking with other necessary mailings.

Not including staff time, Leadership Update is produced, faxed, and mailed for only $300-$500 per issue, based upon an average of eight pages. The success of this new communication tool is confirmed by increased local awareness of national board activities, improved national staff identity, and additional promotion of benefits to members. Our focus at NSPI is to provide maximum service to our members. By managing the quality of the member's experience, we can increase member loyalty and participation in our programs and benefits.

Robert J. Wiggans, formerly director of member services for the National Spa and Pool Institute, Alexandria, Virginia, is director of membership marketing for the Building Owners and Managers Association International, Washington, D.C.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Society of Association Executives
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:National Spa and Pool Institute's Leadership Update board activity summary
Author:Wiggans, Robert J.
Publication:Association Management
Date:May 1, 1993
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