In my last blog post I cited some survey data that implies that, in many cases, an Association Management Company can offer many associations better value and lower cost than hiring dedicated staff. But, I ended that post by asking, is it all about the money? I’ll bet you are already answering that question — No, it is not.
It is interesting to me that we, in the association management industry, have used a lot of financial metrics to measure effectiveness of the organizations we manage. We have reported operating efficiency ratios, net profitability, amount of leverage, revenue per staff person, among other data. I have often wondered why, when we want to measure the effectiveness of a nonprofit group, that we report on its profits!?! My guess is that the reason we do that is because it is something we know how to do. It is something that our CPAs and other financial advisors know how to do, and routinely do for their for-profit clients. And I will admit that there is nothing wrong with measuring profitability, even in a nonprofit organization, and it is something that is necessary to do. But, even though it may be necessary, it is not sufficient.
The ultimate measure of effectiveness for a nonprofit is the degree to which they accomplish the mission for which they were founded, for which they exist and operate, and for which they were granted nonprofit, tax exempt status. If we fail to measure effectiveness at accomplishing that mission, and instead report primarily on profitability metrics, then we place our focus on that which is easy to measure at the expense of that which is most important.
The Association Management Company Institute conducted a survey of some 500 association staff, volunteer leaders, and trusted advisors in 2011. Among other findings, the data from this survey reveal that volunteer leaders think that concentrating their efforts on strategies, policies, and programs to accomplish the organization’s mission is critically important. In fact, it is the most important of a long list of challenges to organizational success. However, they also reported that they were much less satisfied that they were able to focus on those things because of administrative demands (AMC Institute, 2011). This is exactly where an AMC can help. We can free volunteer leaders from those administrative demands and enable them to focus on the core mission of the organization.
At PMG, we have defined our mission to be to help our clients accomplish theirs’. We only serve those clients whose mission is something we can believe in and commit ourselves to, and when we believe in a mission we can help the officers, board members, and other members to accomplish it. We can help by freeing the volunteer leaders from tactical issues so they can focus on strategic ones. We can help by facilitating good governance, strategic planning and strategic thinking, and by providing expertise in a variety of areas critical to an organization’s success.
This is our reason for existence. For us, it is not all about the money. It is about mission accomplishment. When our clients achieve their mission, then we have achieved ours.