By Conni Ingallina
As SOS-Association Management Solutions has worked with trade, professional and charitable nonprofit associations over the past 25 years, we have become convinced that an Association Management Company (AMC) is one of the most cost effective solutions for associations. There are so many reasons to use an AMC (and make sure it is accredited!*) but here are 10 to get you started.
1) Experienced Employees
AMCs are fully staffed with Account Executives (experienced nonprofit professionals that can act as your Executive Director), as well as other nonprofit specialists in accounting/bookkeeping, event planning, membership management, and other support areas including marketing and communication. One key benefit of not having to hire your own staff: when there is a vacancy, the AMC is responsible for replacing that staff person with an experienced employee while working with the Association to ensure compatibility. It takes all the hiring and interviewing process right off your plate.
2) Infrastructure Impact
Many stand-alone associations have high overhead and infrastructure costs which eat up a lot of revenue. You could be paying as much as a 50% premium by directly purchasing your own resources: staff costs, payroll processing, HR issues, office space, capital items and more. With an AMC, you can cut your overhead costs (in half) and create long-term stability for the association. That’s right - No Payroll!
3) Financial Fortitude
Responsible financial management is critically important for any organization, and transparency in finances is a must for associations. AMCs are set up in such a way that many eyes see the books regularly. The AMC’s accounting department does the daily and monthly bookkeeping, but the analysis and review of monthly transactions and reports is done by both the Treasurer and the Account Executive, insuring there are several layers of review for monthly transactions. I once spoke to a lawyer and asked if they had ever seen a case of fraud for an association that is managed by an AMC. He stated that he had not. The safeguards that AMCs provide make fraud much tougher since there are so many eyes on the books and bank accounts.
4) Membership Management
Members are the life-blood of any association. AMCs have many tools that can be used to monitor, manage and maintain association members. Having multiple staffers who can assist members when the Account Executive isn’t available is a plus. Not only are the day-to-day membership operations taken care of, but there is a wealth of creativity that clients can tap into for membership recruitment and retention strategies and campaigns.
5) Engagement Enhancement
Engagement with your members and leaders is always of paramount importance, but during these interesting times, it’s even more critical. Creating multiple channels of communication to connect with all of your stakeholders is a must. An AMC has the resources to create, implement and maintain communication campaigns, channels and content.
6) Financial Flexibility
An AMC is an economical solution for associations. Most AMCs work on a monthly retainer that provides for predictable costs, even when some months are busier than others. You don’t lose staff or service when things are slower, and when they are busier, such as conference planning time, you gain the expertise of more staff without having to hire anyone. An AMC is an asset to an association’s bottom-line.
7) Mundane Management
Face it, no one likes to do mailings, routine phone calls, inventory, badge creation, and other daily tasks. With an AMC, we have “been there, done that” and are quick to get it done.
8) Compliance Competency
An AMC Institute-Accredited* AMC like SOS has multiple ANSI standards it needs to meet on behalf of each of its clients. Both complex and routine tasks such as taking care of the Annual Corporation Commission report, researching and buying D&O and liability insurance, spearheading annual IRS filings and insuring internal controls for financial management are just a few of the compliance areas an AMC manages. Another area of expertise that helps keep an association in compliance is Board Governance, which includes tasks such as maintaining Bylaws and Policies and Procedures compliance, managing new board member orientations, and assisting with strategy for the organization. Oversight of these items allows the board to focus on the mission and vision for the future of the organization rather than annual compliance issues.
9) Savvy Solutions
Let’s be honest, things crop up all the time in an association. Member issues, industry issues, leadership issues. Volunteer leaders often don’t have the bandwidth to deal with these issues when they crop up due to their “day jobs.” Your AMC team is uniquely qualified to find solutions to every situation that arises. It is the AMC’s job is to find creative solutions and implement strategies for effective and efficient leadership. For example, in the current virtual event environment, the resources and expertise of AMCs have helped numerous associations pivot quickly to an online platform. No searching for a consultant to help 6 months down the road, you need a solution promptly – that’s what we do, we find the solution.
10) Consistent Constancy
I believe this is the most important reason to use an AMC. With stand-alone associations, if your Executive Director decides to retire or leave for other opportunities, many times an association is caught off-guard and does not have a plan for succession. In an AMC environment, it becomes the AMC’s Executive Staff‘s responsibility to find a competent, experienced replacement. And having other team members that know the association allows for the association to continue to run smoothly until a successor is chosen and trained. It also provides continuity of operations when Boards turn over. The AMC becomes the keeper of the association’s history and can help guide new Board Leadership.
The successful operation of an association today requires a wide range of skills, and while we have more resources than ever before, not one person can do everything. An AMC allows experts in different areas to support associations in any industry. Associations that are under AMC management experience important benefits as a result of the model. Associations enjoy those benefits in good economic times, as well as during difficult economic times.
*Find out more about the AMC model and accreditation here