What does the cost of corn mean to nonprofits? Plenty.

Associations and charities we work with are gleefully reinstating in-person events.  Most venues have been forgiving and thoughtful about previous down payments and are only unsure about what state mandates may be in place at time of event. But word to the wise: Watch those F & B costs. While some say it is probably only temporary, the 2.6% rise in consumer prices is showing up in ways you might not be watching. For instance, corn, while used in many ways in our economy, is up 50%.

The ripple effect of shortages in many areas of supply and manufacturing has hit the grocery aisles and restaurants near you. That includes hotels, golf courses, and convention centers. Suppliers and venues will surely be trying to make up for last year’s income calamity. Who can blame them? But associations and charities are too. I firmly believe that some changes in how boards and their management operate will be forever altered. Flying people around Read More

Directors on boards have a unique opportunity to show leadership.

Did you enter the first quarter timidly? Timidly, but hopefully. That’s what I’ve seen with the association and charity sectors. But in a matter of one week, I read things like “a total rollback of business restrictions,” “venues and museums opening,” and economists saying we are starting to “roar back” in most industries. Loaded container ships are hunting for berths and kids are back to school. All positive signs. Read More

If Frank Lloyd Wright was your boss …

When the famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright got a call from the resident of one of the homes he had built to complain that the roof was leaking over her bed, he had an unsympathetic reply. “Madame, move your bed.” His penchant for flat roofs was good for design, bad for drainage. We did not need to be told to move our “beds” this last year, we just shoved them over and kept serving our customers and clients even though the environment was stormy. No whining. Better yet, action. Read More

The roads not taken: Who is missing business travel?

Those missing business travel the most are luggage sellers, hotels, and airlines, of course. But those in business, those of us who found ourselves on planes to meetings and events with some regularity are disoriented.

The changes, ones that may be semi-permanent, certainly affect the association sector that we are in along with board directors and their members. Meeting planners whose job descriptions morphed from F & B contracts to learning the fine points of keeping a zoom event lively yearn for a return to the stressful profession they loved.

For reasons of health and expense, nonprofits, both charities and industry groups, have made 2021 budgets with(mostly) no travel at all. They finished 2020 with far less travel expense but it was countered by (sometimes a major) loss of sponsorship income for events.  The major loss for others has been the membership tide drifting out to a sea of disconnected members and donors.

We have work to do … work to reimagine our Read More

The past holds lessons for us: Malls, management and memories

Three things converged this week that brought up my past. Sometimes it’s fun to look back.

1. Having spent the first 20 years post-college in the retail department store sector, I am undeniably drawn to information about it. So, when an opportunity to log on to a webinar with a panel consisting of seasoned executives opining on what changes they see for the retail industry, I couldn’t resist. Read More

Industry associations are bursting out of the gate into 2021

The holiday break must have been a time for board members of the associations we serve to reenergize because I’ve seen January filled with that energy. Board leaders we work with have a sense of fresh start … turning over that proverbial new year leaf with more engagement and dedication to their membership. I hadn’t expected it assuming people would still be harnessed to that distressing yoke of 2020.

Uncowed by many months of instability, and frankly fear, our boards have been eager to rekindle their sense of service to their industry by taking part in board training to reaffirm their duties and responsibilities as directors of nonprofit corporations. That’s a sign of recommitment.

Perhaps cheeky of me but I predict an increase in association membership this year as industry members and nonmembers, tired of having their education and exhibition events cancelled, will be eager to sign up for reskilling webinars and focus on their business health.

What I see is that business Read More

Two things I’ll not be writing about: Holiday parties and our ‘Year in Review’

Annually, I warn folks about the ultimate embarrassment of misbehaving at company holiday parties. In the spirit of comradery, bosses are so clever at encouraging staff to let their hair down and enjoy the punch that has secretly been spiked by that boisterous guy in sales. Of course, I fully understand (and possibly have been party to) raucous behavior with a coworker. It can lead to marriages. Read More

Mysteries of nonprofit boards: Not really scary, but still baffling

There are many things I don’t understand. For instance, why my returns can’t show up on my account as fast as the original purchase does; the inexplicable notoriety of the Olsen Twins; truly inane cartoons; and, why my cube clock won’t stay set to the daylight savings time. Oh, there are many other Life Mysteries I ponder as they pop up, but one Board of Director behavior is my focus today. Read More