An Executive Director's point of view


October 21, 2016: Accessible web sites

Category: Web sites
Posted by: David M Patt
There is a growing effort to include web sites in the definition of "places of accommodation" as defined by the Americans for Disabilities Act (ADA).

It would we wise to see of your organization's web site is accessible to people with disabilities.

Thanks to Joan Eisenstadt for pointing to this.

October 19, 2016: Salary history

Category: Employment
Posted by: David M Patt
Massachusetts law now prohibits employers from asking job applicants about their salary history.

That's just fine with me.

I've never asked the previous salary of a job applicant because it does not matter.

I'm paying what I think is an appropriate salary for the position and I really don't care what they earned before.

And I always state the salary. There is NO REASON for it to be a secret. If it's too low, the applicant will withdraw from the process.

Demanding salary information of a job applicant - especially at the beginning of an interview - is totally unfair to the applicant and presumes that salary is the only consideration for applying or accepting a position.

Other states may follow Massachusetts' lead and associations would do well to be prepared for that situation.

October 17, 2016: Public relations

Category: Marketing
Posted by: David M Patt
If your organization wants media coverage, be sure the message it transmits is something media considers newsworthy. Don't just gab about what is important to your group.

Media outlets (print, broadcast, online) are businesses that earn a profit by building audiences and then selling access to those audiences to other entities (advertisers).

So, if you want media coverage, provide media with stories or information that it believes will attract people who advertisers want to reach. Save the other stuff for your newsletter.

October 14, 2016: Don't work so much

Posted by: David M Patt
People work too much. And they frequently brag about it.

How they didn't get much sleep last night. Or how early they arrived at the office yesterday. Or how they missed their child's birthday party, as if that was a badge of honor. Or how long it's been since they've seen their spouse or kids.

They want you to know they work all the time. And that they really don't have a personal life.

Here's a different way of doing work.
Category: Fund-raising
Posted by: David M Patt
Win the good fight.

Institutional donors (foundations, corporation, etc.) have always favored results over merely "doing good."

That's why they carefully examine an organization's governance, staffing, fund-raising, and operations before making grants or contributions. They want to be sure the group can actually succeed.

Individual donors are moving in that direction, too. Many want to know their money will be used to achieve results, not just to "fight the good fight." They want to be able to witness victory.

Some people may still react to emotional appeals and donate to "good causes." But organizations need to focus more on results as people show greater concern about the effectiveness of their contributions.

Your organization or cause must be able to prove that it can actually achieve its goals.

October 10, 2016: Lead with the lead

Category: Communications
Posted by: David M Patt
When publishing an article, writing a letter, or communicating in any other way, start with the most important fact.

If you are announcing a policy position, for example, start with the position, not with the background or identification of the problem. That can follow. The adopted position is what's most important.

If you are sending a notice about an awards competition, start with the outcome of the process: "Congratulations! You have been named winner of the (name) award..." or "We're sorry to inform you that you have not been selected for the (name) award..."

You can explain the selection process and other details afterward.

Don't force people to read through the body of a communication to find out its purpose.

Lead with what matters most.

October 07, 2016: Group photo

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
If you want to be noticed in a group photo, stand at the end of a row with everybody to your left.

People's faces will probably be too small to be recognized in the picture, but your name will appear first in the caption.

October 05, 2016: Deferred revenue

If your association uses accrual accounting (and it should), remember to amortize your membership income.

Only one-twelfth of a dues payment is income in the month it is received. The remainder is a pre-payment for services to be delivered in the future.

Record the remaining eleven-twelfths as deferred revenue and show it as a liability on your balance sheet. It is a liability because you owe services that have already been paid for.

Each month, draw another one-twelfth as income and leave the remainder as deferred revenue.

September 30, 2016: Why I always keep a time sheet

Posted by: David M Patt
I've always been a CEO and I've always kept a time sheet.

It wasn't to prove to anybody that I was working, to track billable hours when freelancing (that's something different), or to comply with an organizational requirement.

It was to keep an accurate record of the time I spent on various association activities and not force me to rely on my memory for a guesstimate. It helped me plan my day more efficiently.

It also helped the accountant, who used the "gen admin" hours for all employees to calculate the allocation of overhead when conducting the annual audit.

Tip: Record your hours no less than daily. If you wait any longer, you'll forget some things and may unintentionally underestimate the time that was actually required to conduct some tasks.

September 28, 2016: Disabled members and customers

Category: Meetings
Posted by: David M Patt
The keynote speaker at an association conference was wheelchair-bound but the organization failed to provide a ramp for him to reach the speaker's platform.

The hotel, fearing it would be blamed for the oversight, secured a ramp at the last minute.

At another meeting, an association member tightly clutched her walker as she hobbled down a long ramp at the far end of a hallway only to find the doors to the conference room locked. She then climbed back up the ramp and attempted to negotiate the steps inside the meeting room.

Always provide proper access for disabled members and customers. And don't think of it as an extra duty. It should be a routine part of your job.
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