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Q: In light of the current economy, how have you revised your financial strategies?

Our organization is a bit of an anomaly in the current economy. Education in disaster recovery and business continuity is the core of our mission; thus we are seeing increased demand for our educational courses in these fields in light of the events of September 11. Where we are experiencing a downturn, however, is in registrations for our public courses around the country. This has caused us to place much more emphasis on providing in-house courses to insurance companies, high-tech companies, financial institutions, and so forth. This shift in our marketing is yielding significant benefits, both for the organization (in terms of increased profit margins) and for our instructors, who are more readily available for private consulting.

Thomas C. Mawson, CAE Executive Director, Disaster Recovery Institute International, Falls Church, Virginia

Living in the fastest growing county in Tennessee affords us a strong real estate economy. Our leadership is consistently conservative--and yet proactive--with the members' money. Part of that fiscal responsibility involves constantly monitoring the services offered. We are working more closely to identify membership needs through focus groups, thereby maintaining the viable services and discontinuing those that are no longer applicable to member needs.

Our association is looking at some alternative ways to raise funds through the use of technology. Our members are going to need a better understanding of technology and a presence on the Web. We are looking at providing a menu of services that will be nominal in costs to members but will create better marketing and branding opportunities for them.

Helen Carter, CAE Chief Executive Officer, Williamson County Association of Realtors, Franklin, Tennessee

We are fortunate to have fairly diverse revenue streams, which gives us some flexibility in the current market. Nevertheless, we continue to seek out appropriate revenue opportunities that we believe will return more revenue than expense invested. While we are not dependent on investment income for our operating budget, our chief financial officer and our outside investment counsel had the foresight to begin reducing our noncash holdings many months prior to September 11 and the economic downturn. Our continuing strategies are to watch revenue-generating program performance very closely; pay greater attention to the word on the street in our industry; seek cost savings at every possible turn; and refine our budgeted-expense contingency plans.

Kevin B. McCray, CAE Executive Director, National Ground Water Association, Westerville, Ohio

We have experienced a downturn in revenue due to the national recession, the September 11 events, and a downturn in the assisted-living industry due to overcapacity. On the national level, we have focused on our revenue-generating ideas--membership, conferences, magazine advertising, sponsorships, and the sales of products and services--based on a theme of "when the going gets tough, we do a lot of marketing." This means a temporary shift of resources from areas that do not generate revenue. Invaluable to us has been the active participation of our board members, who roll up their sleeves and call peers to join or renew memberships, join our leadership council, and become industry partners.

Jeanne P. Luschin President and Chief Executive Officer, Assisted Living Federation of America, Fairfax, Virginia

We had to look seriously at both expected revenues and the expenses of serving the membership in today's economy. Our budgeting had to be conservative, since the revenue expectations for our retailer members was shaky. We took an aggressive approach: We increased our dues, which had not changed since 1988, and made expense reductions in all areas that would be invisible to members. The staff looked at our typical expenses and discovered significant savings in office supply and daily maintenance costs. We then cut expenses in ways that have no visible effect on our external audiences.

William H. Baxter, CAE President and Chief Executive Officer, Retail Merchants Association of Greater Richmond, Virginia

Q: Hew are you being evaluated by your hoard? Are there any new processes in place for the 21St century?

When I began my role as executive director this year, the executive committee of the board of directors expressed a desire to have a more structured evaluation tool and process than they had used previously. I compiled some information from ASAE and other sources, in addition to networking with a few colleagues. I developed a tool that includes 42 competencies in four different categories: strategic planning, managerial functions, relationship management, and communication and knowledge management. There is also a section for annual goals and objectives. Also new this year is the addition of a form to collect feedback from my senior staff about how they perceive my leadership.

The current president and immediate past president collect information from the other members of the executive committee, review staff feedback and my self-evaluation, and compile their review. We meet in person to discuss the review at our winter board meeting. One of my goals is to develop a dashboard of organizational performance measures, which will be incorporated into the review process in future years.

Donna H. Groh Executive Director, Toastmasters International, Rancho Santa Margarita, California

The current process that the board uses to evaluate me is an evaluation by our executive committee with input from board members. Our board is very open and comments via listserver on an ongoing basis. We know what they are thinking without having to ask. One of the main changes that I see happening is a new piece to the evaluation tool that looks at how well the board, chief staff officer, and staff work in partnership. We have seen many changes in the past few years and one of the most important for us is the acceptance of this partnership.

Kathleen Larmett Executive Director, National Council of University Research Administrators, Washington, D.C.

My board evaluates my performance against a set of criteria related to measurable management objectives. They also rate me on a host of other indices related to how well I exemplify the association's core values such as accountability, creativity, and collaboration. This is consistent with former General Electric CEO Jack Welch's school of thought. He says that performance excellence is not merely satisfied by surpassing revenue, sales, or other quantifiable management targets, but must also be equally measured by how well the individual embodies the organization's desired culture.

All of my board members participate in this evaluation by survey and then meet to further discuss the aggregate results. The board's executive committee then reviews this information with me. I get to react and we engage in a give and take about the factors contributing to areas that may be identified for needed improvement and possible ways to address these, which may be highlighted in my performance expectations for the next year.

Joseph Issacs, CAE Executive Director. American Occupational Therapy Association, Bethesda. Maryland

When I am evaluated by the board, I first fill out a detailed, 16-page self-evaluation that covers the performance of both the association and myself. This instrument allows me to comment on just about anything that involves either the association or my role within it. I then sit down for an entire day with both my president and president-elect to carefully go over my comments. Invariably this discussion takes us into all of the important issues that impact the association. It enables us to cover the waterfront and unite as a team. I particularly value the opportunity to get my working relationship with the president-elect off on solid footing.

My president prepares a written report that summarizes our discussions and my performance. That is presented to the board during a meeting in which I participate. The board and I then have a healthy discussion about the summary after which the board goes into executive session to decide on my compensation.

Nelson E. Fabian Executive Director, National Environmental Health Association, Denver
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Author:Fabian, Nelson E.
Publication:Association Management
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2002
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