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Donna Oser
Donna Oser
Donna Oser's Article

Silver Linings and Thought Leaders Bookmark

Silver Linings and Thought Leaders
One of the silver linings in the ‘cloud’ of the pandemic is that associations can leverage the virtual medium to bring some of the industry’s best minds to members and do so inexpensively. To this end, MSAE is thrilled to launch our new Thought Leader Webinar Series. The series features a 90-minute webinar each month from some of the best association minds in the country. The content was explicitly hand-curated for Michigan’s association community, and each speaker was selected for their knowledge and experience.

Executive Forum Set to Deliver Unique Learning Experience for CEOs Bookmark

Executive Forum Set to Deliver Unique Learning Experience for CEOs
Association CEOs looking to share perspectives and support fellow CEOs should plan to attend MSAE’s Executive Forum, October 18-20, 2020. The event is designed to allow chief staff executives the opportunity to explore issues that are top-of-mind for them while also learning practical strategies for leading associations through disruptive change - all in an intimate, informal setting. (Nothing sparks creativity quite like play, so there will be some group fun on the agenda, as well!)

Speaker Line-up Announced for Virtual Meetings Symposium Bookmark

Speaker Line-up Announced for Virtual Meetings Symposium
A first-rate lineup of speakers has been announced for MSAE's Virtual Meetings Symposium. Symposium speakers include national subject matter experts such as Rebecca Achurch of Achurch Consulting, Bucky Dodd from the Institute for Learning Environment Design, and Alex Plaxen of Nifty Method Marketing & Events. MSAE members lending proven expertise from the field include John Tramontana, CAE, of Michigan Veterinary Medicine Association, Kate Pojeta, CMP, of Event Garde, and Chelsey Martinez from the Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators. The two-day virtual event is designed to sharpen virtual planning skills as well as provide practical tools and resources.

Get More Out of Your Virtual Event Sponsorship Investment Bookmark

Get More Out of Your Virtual Event Sponsorship Investment

As events and meetings have gone virtual, event sponsors have had to change their approach to getting the most out of their sponsorship dollars. Adapting to virtual events has been a boon for sponsors who have brought innovative ideas to the new platform, proving that just because we can’t be face-to-face, doesn’t mean sponsors can’t see excellent ROI on their investments.

As is the case with in-person events, sponsors who lean into the event with energy and innovation will have far more success than those who remain flat-footed. Besides, it’s more fun to be part of the action, so why sit on the sidelines and hope for the best?

Here are five ideas to differentiate your business, fill your sales funnel, and get more out of your investment in virtual event sponsorships!

Event Promotion on Social Media

If you’re sponsoring a virtual event, let the world know about it! Write a blog post about the event and its importance to the industry and share it on social media. Create event-specific profile pictures for your social accounts in the weeks leading up to the event to let your audience know you’re sponsoring and attending. Your event promoters will love the help spreading the word about the event and will happily share your content with their own social media audience. It’s a win-win for sponsors and promoters alike.

Chasing the White Whale: Growing Engagement Amidst the Pandemic Bookmark

Chasing the White Whale: Growing Engagement Amidst the Pandemic
In the classic story of Moby Dick, Captain Ahab single-mindedly pursues a giant white whale across the equator and ultimately to his - and his crew’s - demise. Today, the term ‘chasing the white whale’ is used to describe a situation in which someone is going after something (perhaps obsessively) that is impossible to attain. After five months of pandemic-related shutdowns, some association leaders might feel that member engagement is their white whale. But quantitative research and observational data say otherwise: member engagement is attainable and now is the time to pursue it in earnest.

Three Issues on the Radar for Association Leaders Bookmark

Three Issues on the Radar for Association Leaders

There’s an awful lot happening in the greater environment that impacts associations. Here are three issues association leaders will want to be aware of:  

Temporary Payroll Tax Deferral

Several weeks ago, President Trump signed an Executive Order issuing a temporary payroll tax deferral for the employee portion of Social Security taxes from September 1 through December 31, 2020. The order applies to "any employee the amount of whose wages or compensation, as applicable, payable during any bi-weekly pay period generally is less than $4,000, calculated on a pre-tax basis, or the equivalent amount concerning other pay periods." The EO has created many questions for employers. How does one define an "eligible employee"? Is eligibility affected by employees holding more than one job, employees changing jobs, the employer opening or closing during the period, etc.? How are wages or compensation defined - inclusive of bonuses, vacation payouts, overtime etc.? While Treasury Secretary Mnuchin has said the order is voluntary, voluntary for whom - the employee or the employer? The US Chamber has stated that, in the absence of further guidance, it's unlikely employers will implement this order...

Lessons in Leadership Bookmark

Lessons in Leadership
Every association professional has likely witnessed or contributed to the 'all in the family' style criticism that exists between local, state, and national branches of associations. (I liken it to the unspoken rule that exists in my family among the five siblings – we're allowed to criticize one another, but we become fiercely protective when an outsider criticizes one of us.) I'd been hearing some of this about the American Society of Association Executives this spring and summer as the society stumbled a bit in launching its annual conference. When ASAE canceled its annual in-person conference and shifted to virtual but kept the same pricing model, long-time supporters railed at ASAE's business-as-usual approach. They chided the society for missing the opportunity of the virtual event by not re-thinking pricing, engagement, etc.

The Next Crisis: Back to School Bookmark

The Next Crisis: Back to School

In the past few months, COVID-19 has provided association executives a master class in agility. In the coming months, those newly honed skills will be tested as Michigan's children don't head back to school and, instead, settle in at home for remote learning. Remote learning presents real challenges for parents, and associations that employ parents. Here are some things to consider when developing a plan to support employees who have children attending school remotely: 

People come first. Employees are more stressed than ever. They are worried about their children's education, employment status, and sanity. Association leaders should identify the collective impact this will have their staff teams and open a dialogue about potential solutions and supports. While many ideas are starting to percolate, co-creation of solutions with employees will improve efficacy and better leverage resources.  

What Does the Customer Value? Bookmark

What Does the Customer Value?

Management consultant Peter Drucker posed the question 40+ years ago and it is more important now than ever. What does the customer (or member) value? As association leaders wrestle with budgeting for the next year in an economy that rivals that of the Great Depression, this is the critical question. Association resources - human, capital, physical, everything - must be aligned in response to the answer.     

Products & Services

What products and services will members need to weather this storm? Key questions include:

What should the association continue to provide?What should the association double down on?

What should the association stop doing? 

What should the association start doing?

Redesigning Association Business Models Bookmark

Redesigning Association Business Models

As associations move past the early response phases to COVID-19 and plan for an uncertain future, there is a lot of conversation around how to analyze business lines and develop business models. While there are many different approaches to doing so, the Business Model Canvas is a deceptively simple tool that captures a business model's building blocks in a useful, one-page snapshot 


The BMC is a visual organizer that focuses on the essential aspects of a business model and allows the user to appreciate the relationships among those aspects. The Value Proposition is central to a strong business model, and it is oriented as such in the tool. Also inherent in the tool's design are both sides of the balance sheet. On the right side of the BMC, are those aspects of the business model that relate to revenue generation: Customer Segments, Customer Relationships, Channels, and Revenue Streams. On the left side of the BMC are the aspects that have costs associated with them: Key Resources, Key Activities, Key Partnerships, and Cost Structures. 


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