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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.
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.
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:
Last week I had the pleasure of meeting with a member CEO and his association's Board of Directors to talk about effective practices of association boards. This was a very high functioning board and CEO - it was work sessions like this that helped to get them to that level. It got me thinking that now is as good a time as any to explore fundamental tools that, simple as they may seem, can help you support good governance in your association.
Position descriptions. Current position descriptions for the CEO, board officers, and board members at large establish a common understanding across the governance team and reduce the likelihood of misunderstandings. Position descriptions also serve to inform the leadership recruitment process. Do your position descriptions accurately reflect the expectations of the association, or is it time for an update?
Chief staff executives of associations now find themselves in between a rock a hard place when it comes to the impact of COVID-19 and seeking relief from the federal government. Should we apply for aid for our associations or will people view our doing so as a failure in management or an ethical lapse? Here are some things to consider when deciding whether or not to apply for assistance:
We don't know how long we will be operating under the Governor's Stay Safe Stay Home Executive Order nor how long the nation will be under pandemic guidelines. This means we cannot predict when our members' businesses will return to normal nor when our own business will return to normal.
I love working for a board.
One of the unique attributes of an association is to have a board that represents members. The CEO/president/executive director has as an element of their scope of work to mentor, advise and care for the board. For some this is a challenge, for others it is a treat.
The Internship Issue explores how to start an internship program, where to find interns in Michigan and what interns bring to the office. In addition, the influence associations have on advocacy, seven CEO survival tips and holding yourself accountable are discussed.