To thine own self be true

“To thine own self be true.” No better words have been spoken than those of Polonius in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Those same words came to mind when I was at a meeting talking to other executive directors. Someone stated, “I desperately want to set up an insurance pool for our members.” Not only did that phrase surprise me, but so did the reactions of others who stated, “Yes, we want to learn how to do that too.”

All of these executive directors are focused on trade associations that have nothing to do with insurance. Even though many of us are tasked with finding non-dues revenue for our organization, I have to ask, “Is this truly your model and does this follow your mission?”

In a previous blog, I talked about the 4 Ms of running a great organization. The first is Model, which asks the question: Who are we and why do we exist? I bring this up because so many times we forget this. Each of these executive directors is focused on running an organization, not running insurance products. I am not doubting other organizations who have found benefit in creating discounts in certain commodities. However, if I asked each of their members what they would value as a member benefit, I guarantee it would be the following:

  • More communication to members and the public we serve

  • Clearer direction to where the organization is going

  • Better advocacy, fundraising or marketing to the people we serve

I guarantee a small discount for insurance premiums does not even get close on the list.

Do the Small Things Well

When talking to other executive directors, I routinely ask how they feel their organization is doing concerning their model, money, management and marketing. Many times I get a surprised look as if I somehow knew they were struggling in one or more of those areas. In fact, many of us are struggling in at least one of these areas. That is why I would rather see board and executive staff efforts being made to fix the small things and make sure they are running well.

Before you set off on your next adventure of insurance pooling, creating educational webinars, setting up a buyer’s guide or renting out your extra space, take a moment and ponder Polonius’ line. Ask whether your organization wants to be in insurance, technology, advertising or rental property. Know whether your endeavor truly serves your mission and will be viewed as a member benefit.


As Director of Finance and Operations, Carl has more than 10 years of experience in the human resource, pharmaceutical and business sector. He derives better ways for businesses to handle finance, budgeting, marketing, and sales processes. Carl utilizes his talents for streamlining client operations and association management by utilizing member management systems (MMS) that integrate with websites and accounting.

#association #management #marketing #mission #successful #results

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