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Real Strategies to Manage Risk Bookmark

Real Strategies to Manage Risk

These days, risk management is top of mind for association leaders. Last week, I had the opportunity to discuss event risk management with Jeff Tenenbaum. Jeff is one of the nation's leading association attorneys. He (literally) wrote the book on association tax compliance and currently sits on ASAE's Legal Advisory Council. Because Jeff is deeply involved in association issues, he's an excellent resource on some of the more complex and highly specific scenarios that associations are navigating.

Responsibility (and Risk) is Shared 

During our conversation, Jeff made it clear that both associations and venues have a duty of care to host our members safely at face-to-face events in the context of COVID-19. He encourages associations to endeavor to obligate venues to take on significant, specific responsibilities to keep attendees safe - perhaps in the form of an addendum to the original contract that would, ideally, include indemnification of the association. (This may be more than venues are willing to do so we should expect some give and take on this.) Jeff also suggests it's a good idea to check in on your general commercial liability insurance policy to ensure that it contains legal defense coverage. All the better if the venue will also name the association in its general commercial liability policy. 

You're Invited to MSAE's Annual Meeting Bookmark

You're Invited to MSAE's Annual Meeting

MSAE's Annual Meeting will be held on August 4, 2020, beginning at 12 PM at the Radisson Plaza Hotel at Kalamazoo Center - I hope you will join us! We have some important items on the agenda including the election of new directors to the board, the ratification of a revised set of bylaws, and an update on the State of the Society.  

MSAE's Board of Directors unanimously supported the slate proposed by the Leadership Identification Committee, chaired by Denise McGinn, CAE. The slate includes Steve Pontoni of the Michigan Association for Justice and John Tramontana, CAE, of the Michigan Veterinary Medical Association, who stand nominated to fill two open seats, both with three-year terms. Barring the petition of any write-in candidates from Active Members, the slate will be accepted as presented at the Annual Meeting. 

Planning for Impact Bookmark

Planning for Impact

How will association revenue be impacted by COVID-19? Membership? Revenue from education and meetings? We're all asking these questions and modeling various scenarios as we work through budget projections and chart the path forward. MSAE recently partnered with the Association Societies Alliance and Dynamic Benchmarking on a COVID-19 Impact Survey to get some perspective on these questions. 

The survey focused on four key areas: staffing, professional development budget, gross revenue, and membership. Here's what stood out to me as I reviewed the results for the US and Michigan: 

    • Overall, association executives in Michigan anticipate COVID-19 having a more significant impact on their associations than executives nationally. 
    • Michigan associations were quicker to lay off employees than their national colleagues and more of us may conduct further layoffs in the coming year. 
    • Association executives realize that their own education and professional development will be key to leading their associations through the challenges ahead. 
    • Most association executives anticipate that membership will decline in the coming year. 

Looking Inward Bookmark

Looking Inward

The events of the last ten days evoke strong feelings in all of us. But feelings do not an authority make. I am acutely aware that I do not possess the life experience nor the knowledge to speak credibly on the matter of racial inequity. So, I will simply invite you to join me as I work to overcome my own ignorance.

The Michigan League for Public Policy made a decision  several years ago to apply a racial equity lens to the anti-poverty work that was at the heart of their mission. Emboldened by the knowledge that the disparities in health, wealth and well-being that they seek to eradicate are largely a result of racism that has been enshrined in public policy over the course of U.S. history, MLPP created the 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge It's designed to be a personal exploration of racial equity taken in over several weeks. 

I hope you’ll consider joining me.


Flying Higher Bookmark

Flying Higher

It seems like everyone I talk with tells me they have more work to do since the pandemic started. I hear the disbelief in their voices as they say it - mainly because we all felt we were working hard before COVID-19.  And we were. The difference now is that, on top of everything else (furloughs, working from home, increased member needs, financial concerns, etc.), we can no longer rely on autopilot. 

MSAE Team Introductions: Wes Sovis Bookmark

MSAE Team Introductions: Wes Sovis

Wes Sovis is MSAE's Digital Communications Manager, responsible for putting out the association's vibes online. He's a social media and digital media fanatic, and his main goal to to help MSAE do more to engage, inform, and promote its members across a variety of digital mediums. 

How to Test Your Association's Membership Messaging Bookmark

How to Test Your Association's Membership Messaging

When it comes to membership marketing, it’s easy to assume you know the one value proposition that resonates with your membership the most. But as many marketers have discovered, the only way to confirm a value proposition’s effectiveness is to compare it with another. 

We recently had a conversation with Marketing General’s Tony Rossel, who discussed this very topic. Tony called it the 80-10-10 method, and it made such an impact with our group, we thought we’d share the method with everyone. 


Checking in on Ourselves as Leaders Bookmark

Checking in on Ourselves as Leaders

Leaders, now is a good time to check-in with our heads and our hearts. Amid this constant change, days over-scheduled with virtual meetings, and the staggering amount of legitimate need that surrounds us (help, support, information, etc.), we can sometimes be less than our best selves. Kouzes and Posner's Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership is a helpful touchstone to get re-centered and better serve those around us.  

Modeling the Way

As leaders, we know that our behavior must illustrate what we expect to see in others.  This includes setting a personal example, making sure that people adhere to standards that have been agreed to, following up on our commitments, continuing to build consensus around our organization's values, being clear about our leadership philosophy, and asking for feedback on our actions.  

Safe Meetings in Michigan: Call for Volunteers Bookmark

Safe Meetings in Michigan: Call for Volunteers


As you likely know by now, MSAE has convened a Safe Meetings in Michigan (SMIM) Work Group.

·       This is a short-term work group whose purpose is to develop recommendations/guidelines for groups of 10 – 10,000 to meet safely.

·       We know how important hospitality/tourism/events are to Michigan’s economy and to the missions of our respective organizations. 

·       SMIM is comprised of representatives from some of Michigan’s largest organizations representing health, tourism, meetings and trade associations.



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We are the association for associations  in Michigan! Our mission is to ensure a knowledgeable, professional and successful association community. 


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