Association Management Best Practices

DECA Inc. offers a variety of association level training to advisors and leadership teams. During this year’s Association Management Conference, a group of DECA and Collegiate DECA association advisors shared their experiences from attending these trainings and the impact it had on their associations.

Donna McFadden, association advisor for Massachusetts DECA, spoke on her experience from attending the Chapter Membership Workshop. Massachusetts DECA had a steady 3-5 percent increase in membership each year, but when McFadden was challenged to increase her membership by 10 percent in one year, she realized she needed a new strategy.

“DECA’s Chapter Membership Workshop changed the way we thought about doing our plans and membership recruitment,” McFadden shared.

DECA’s training helped McFadden learn she needed to find the “carrot” to motivate her chapter advisors to increase their membership drive to help Massachusetts reach its goal.

“I realized my carrot was spots for my advisors to attend academies,” McFadden said. “In the past I just gave them away very easily, but I changed my thinking and decided to make my advisors earn their spots.”

McFadden’s plan was that for each level of increase in membership, an advisor would earn a certain number of academy spots. Despite some push back when she first announced this new plan, McFadden soon realized her carrot worked. That year Massachusetts DECA surpassed their 10 percent membership increase and earned a 23 percent increase instead.

McFadden’s key takeaway points from her Chapter Recruitment Workshop experience were to not only find the carrot that works best for your association, but to also create manageable recognition and think outside the box about how to motivate your chapters and members.

Next, Karsten Walker of Utah Collegiate DECA shared his experience from attending the same Chapter Recruitment Workshop. Walker wanted to focus his membership efforts on bridging to gap from high school DECA members to collegiate members.

Walker wanted to understand why and how members were motivated to join their collegiate DECA chapter, so he created a lesson plan that he shared with Utah high school DECA teachers. He asked them to have their students participate in the activity and send the results back to him, which helped him gauge the interest level for high school members in Utah to then join Collegiate DECA.

Walker’s experience at the workshop also made him realize he needed to look at these high school members as customers that needed to be marketed to. “How can I make it easy for the customer to repurchase?” became Walker’s motto for his program.

Sarah Williams, the Tennessee DECA association advisor, shared her experience from attending DECA’s Train the Trainer Certification Course. Williams attended the course because she wanted to gain knowledge in the areas of advisor connection, education initiatives and advisor buy in.

Williams left the training feeling confident to tackle some of her association’s larger projects, such as their Fall Leadership Camp. Her Train the Trainer experience gave her ideas and resources to use to revitalize the camp and in return provide a better experience for attendees.

Lastly, Pennsylvania DECA association advisor, Jerry DiGiovanni, spoke on his experience attending DECA’s Association Fundraising Workshop, saying the biggest benefit from attending was, “Learning to think outside the box.”

DiGiovanni’s take away points were to reach out to those donors already giving to you, and to try ask for different items or donations. Since they are already dedicated donors, asking for more can pay off for you.

For example, Pennsylvania DECA hosts their state conference at Hershey Park each year and because of their close partnership with the hotels they use, they are able to receive perks such as free passes to the theme park, free Wi-Fi and free parking. Simply by asking those donors you already have a relationship with is an easy way to try and find more donations or free items for your members and attendees.

Lastly, DiGiovanni also suggested that you should look for ways to provide benefits to our donors. Pennsylvania DECA gives away free ad space in their conference programs to those organizations or individuals who donate money, as well as free membership to DECA and links to their own organizations’ websites from the Pennsylvania DECA site.

DECA’s association advisor workshops and training seminars have something for everyone. Whether you want to shake up your recruitment methods, network with other advisors, learn better fundraising practices or just enhance your professional development, DECA can help you make your role as an association advisor count.

Follow Janelle on Twitter @jjscudderdeca.

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