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  • 17 Jul 2017 9:58 PM | Anonymous

    Are you lonely? Don’t like working on your own? Hate making decisions? Then call a meeting!

    Everyone laughs about funny meeting memes but the reality is most meetings are a distraction and a waste of time.  

    Psychologist and master trainer Ian Plowman has been a professional facilitator for three decades and has devised some clever ways to make your next meeting a productive one.

    Here’s a few ideas he shared with me as to how he makes meetings work more effectively.

    1. Send the agenda in advance with key questions attached

    Ian is quite clear on this.

    “Don’t invite people to a meeting without letting them know in advance what the ‘social contract’ is – the purpose, the timing, and the rules of engagement of how the team will work together.”

    I had a strategic planning session coming up with a client so I put Ian on the spot and asked him how he’d prepare for a meeting like that.

    “If I were running a meeting on Strategic Planning, I’d ask each attendee to prepare a three-minute response to three key questions before they arrive at the meeting.”

    “So what are those three key questions, Ian?” I asked.

    “They’re very simple but very powerful. I’d ask the attendees to come prepared with an answer to these three questions: 

    1. What is your experience with Strategic Planning?
    2. What is your greatest satisfaction with Strategic Planning?
    3. What is your biggest frustration with Strategic Planning?”

    I asked Ian how this helps the meeting run more smoothly.

    “These questions streamline the way the meeting runs. They:

    • help all attendees learn more about the experience of those in the room and what role they and their colleagues can play at the meeting
    • give people time to think about the topic at hand before they arrive so they’re instantly productive the moment they arrive
    • clarify the key issues or challenges of what problems need to be resolved
    • help people express their emotions early in the meetings and lays the foundation for authentic expression of ideas.”    

    2. Appoint a moderator to facilitate the discussion

    Every successful meeting is led by a skilled facilitator or monitor. This need not be the boss and in fact, it’s preferable if they’re not. The monitor’s role is to facilitate the discussion, keep everyone to time, and get agreement from the group on the rules and acceptable behaviour before the meeting begins.

    Meetings can become shouting matches or become time blow-outs if there is no one appointed to be the moderator or monitor. 

    Ian says, “A simple way to train everyone in the art of facilitation is to give everyone a turn at moderating the meeting. This also helps everyone understand what it’s like to run a meeting and shows them how challenging some behaviours can be,” says Ian.

    If you don’t have a well-trained facilitator at your association, train a staff member in the art of facilitation or hire one and see how the professionals do it. 

    “Once you have a professional facilitator run a meeting, you’ll see why other meetings have been less than productive. They really make the difference. It’s a skill that has to be learnt,” Ian says.

    3. Manage the personalities in the room

    There’s always a wide display of personalities on show at a meeting. The extrovert who won’t pipe down. The introvert who won’t pipe up. The naysayer who finds fault with every idea. Everyone has a role to play but the facilitator must have strategies for bringing out the best in each team member.

    “Introverts will appreciate having time in advance to prepare their thoughts and dedicated time at the meeting, free of interruptions to present them. Junior members of the team may appreciate being able to contribute ideas anonymously, particularly if the ideas are critical of current strategies, or people in the meeting. Experienced executives will appreciate their expertise being recognised and drawn upon publicly,” says Ian.

    If you or your team struggle to make your meetings productive, maybe you need to re-think the way you’re running them. These strategies could help you see meetings in a whole new light.

    Key take outs:

    1. Send the agenda in advance and be specific about how you want people to contribute at the meeting.
    2. Appoint a trained facilitator to run the meeting (or hire one to train your team).
    3. Get clear on how your team prefer to communicate so they feel comfortable sharing their ideas at the meeting.
  • 17 Jul 2017 9:48 PM | Anonymous

    What do Sony Pictures, eBay, the White House and Mark Zuckerberg have in common?

    They’ve all been hacked. Badly. Chances are, there’s a lot more companies who’ve been hacked – we just haven’t heard about it. Why? Because companies are terrified of revealing that their systems are not secure. That of course, would lead to loss of trust and as everyone knows, trust is the currency upon which all relationships are built. 

    According to Tom Crampton, head of Trusted Impact, a leading information security consultancy, it’s not a matter of if you’ll be hacked. It’s when.

    “Cyber threats are on the increase and a recent survey showed this is the number one concern executives lose sleep over, mainly because cyber-attack is so hard to protect against,” explained Crampton.

    This issue is of concern to association executives as their database is one of their most valuable assets – and something very attractive to hackers.

    What can we do to protect against cyber-attack?

    So how do you prevent being hacked? Well, the bad news is you can’t. The good news however is that you can prepare for it. Crampton says there are five things you can do to prepare for an imminent attack.

    1. Expect it

    Most companies who get hacked are shocked that it happened. They weren’t expecting it.  “Forewarned is forearmed,” Crampton says. “If you expect it, you will have systems in place to deal with it. You’ll be faster to act and you can possibly stop it before it goes viral.”  This means ensuring your virus protection and software is kept completely up-to-date.

    2. Talk about it with your team 

    Get the cyber-hacking conversation started with key members in your team - the board, the IT department, the management team. Everyone needs to be aware that it can happen to them.

    Richard Stokes, Executive Officer at Australian Boarding Schools Association has a cautionary tale to tell.

    “My colleague Tom and I were in a meeting. Tom leans over and shows me an email I had ‘supposedly’ sent him requesting authorisation to transfer a large amount of money. He asks if I sent it. I said, ‘no, I did not’. Clearly it was a cyber-hack but if Tom had not checked-in with me, he could easily have assumed I had sent that email. The email looked very authentic.”

    If you have a small team it’s easy to cross-check but for larger teams, that is not possible.

    Stokes suggest, “If there is any doubt about the legitimacy of the email and it’s to do with money, or an important issue, ask the sender to confirm their request by resending the email to you. This will short-circuit the issue quickly.”

    3. Know what to look for

    Hackers are brilliant at making their emails look legitimate. But there’s often tell-tale signs that give it away so if you know what to look for, you are more likely to spot it. Crampton has some tips on what to notice. “The image resolution of the logo may be poor. There could be an obvious typo. The titles of people may be slightly wrong.”

    In isolation they may not give the game away but if you know what to look for and can see multiple issues with one email, you can alert your IT department.

    4. Have an escalation policy in place

    Have a plan in place so that if or when it happens, you can respond quickly, professionally and calmly. For example, does everyone know who to turn to if they think an email is fake?  What’s the correct procedure for reporting it and what information should be passed on? What should you do if you believe you have clicked on something inappropriate?  At what point are the cyber-security experts called in? 

    If there’s a clear plan in place for what to do when you suspect something is wrong, you’ll be better able to stop it spreading.

    5. Create a communications plan

    Nothing creates panic like having the crew from A Current Affair show up on your doorstep.  Be prepared so that if and when it happens, you’ve got all your communications bases covered.  Actions to consider include:

    • Have you pre-written the emails that will alert your clients that a hack has occurred?
    • Do you have a committee formed in advance so they can convene quickly to deal with it? 
    • Have you brainstormed the questions (and possible answers) that members (or pesky journalists) are likely to ask if you’ve been hacked? 

    Having answers to tricky questions pre-written and rehearsed can help minimise the fallout and mitigate the loss of trust that may occur.

    Cyber-attacks are a clear and present danger for every company, small and large, so take the time to create a plan in case it happens to you. It will be time and money well spent.

    Key take outs

    1. Expect it – it’s a case of when, not if.
    2. Talk about it with your team and members – creating awareness mitigates the risk of being attacked.
    3. Create a communications plan – if you are attacked, have a plan for how you’ll deal with it.
  • 16 May 2017 8:45 PM | Anonymous

    P&Cs face demise as structures alienate younger members. P&Cs need to adapt to the changing nature of membership associations. Those that do will emerge stronger and more powerful than every before. It's time to focus on developing a powerful sense of purpose and developing ad hoc volunteering opportunities that cater to all parents (even those who don't have the time to show up).

  • 26 Apr 2017 10:10 PM | Anonymous

    When I started at AMAQ in 2013 our new members were being sourced through events and various non-member campaigns.  It is quite difficult to answer specifically where they were coming from as no detailed records tracking new member sources were kept at the time. 

    I had used the Member get Member concept in my previous roles and it had been very successful, so I brought it into my new role.

    To promote the campaign I developed these postcards (image 1) to give out to all new members and have them at all events.  They we so cheap to produce!

    The campaign was very simple.  We had banner advertising on our online news (image 2) and placed banner advertising on our non-member email campaigns.  The message was simple and the advertising matched this.  The visual is very easy to understand with a clear task and reward so the member knows exactly what they will receive when they refer another member.

    We have had the postcards on display at every event, including conferences where we exhibited. All the staff at AMA Queensland know about the member get a member campaign so they all know that when they attend the event to have the postcards on display.

    It did take a while for people to respond to the offer, at least 6 months from when I started. Fast forward, and over the last 12 months 31.5% of our new members are referred. 

    It probably took about 3-6 months for existing members to start becoming aware of the campaign.  It was advertised in every issue of Dr Q magazine and every enews that went out.  We still place the adverts on any spare space we have. We place the postcard in our renewal packs so that meant that every member was notified of this campaign.  I have members who call me and say “I have spoken to this Dr and he wants to join… and if they sign up I was their referral”.  It is common for members to do this. They give me the contact details to contact the non-member. 

    The other interesting aspect to this is we have new members who have been referred to us by non-members.  We then contact these non-members thanking them and ask them to re-join and they do. The number of non-member referees we receive continually surprises me.  These of course are handled differently.  Some don’t even realise their membership has lapsed.  We contact these people thanking them for the referral and we ask them to re-join.  We do offer them the same discount rate i.e. 25% etc. and they do re-join.  This is particularly rewarding for us.

    Our senior members are certainly very active in referring members to us which is great.  The majority of referrals have come from this segment.  Some of our senior doctor members refer junior doctors that they have been mentoring.

    26% of our referrals are from our junior members who are the millennials but over the last 12 months the referrals from this demographic have doubled.

    You have to understand what drives your members.  Members do say that fees are too high so the 25% discount off their fees is very appealing to them.  We do tell them that they can save money off their fees if they refer a colleague.

    When we receive a referral, we send a thank you letter to the member thanking them for their referral and advising them of their discount.  We also include a promotional product i.e. lens cloth cleaner.  It is important to say thank you each time someone is referred.  You have to nurture that relationship with the referrer and referee, as they are more likely to refer again.

    Importantly, all AMAQ staff supported this campaign, as did our Board and Council.  When I have run this campaign in previous roles I have never had any problem with people not being behind it.  People really do see the value.  Peer-to-peer referrals are always the best and that is because the referral came from someone they trust and respect.

    The other thing with this campaign is that we are now looking at rewarding both parties.  I did this in a previous role and it was quite successful.  I think you always have to review your campaigns and invigorate them to make them appealing to the members. I think this is our next exciting step.

    The member get a member campaign is not the solution to the challenges we face in membership recruitment but it is part of the solution.  Not every member is going to refer another member but when more than 30% of our members do, then we are very happy.  A referral program should be part all our recruitment portfolios.

    Leigh Holohan is the Membership Manager at the Australian Medical Association Queensland (AMAQ), a role she has held for 3 ½ years. Find Leigh on LinkedIn.

  • 26 Apr 2017 10:02 PM | Anonymous

    This year was my second time attending Social Media Marketing World (SMMW17) in San Diego. Arguably the world’s best social media conference, it certainly didn’t disappoint. I learnt so much that I’ve already bought my conference ticket for 2018!  This year there were five key themes:

    1.      Customer engagement and the customer experience

    By 2020 the vast majority of purchases will be decided by customer experiences, and social media plays a huge role in this. Customers (i.e. your members) have an increasingly influential voice, and one that many are not afraid to use. A growing number of your members and potential members expect your association to have an active social media presence, so they can engage with you online rather than picking up the phone or sending an email. Now is a good time to review your social media presence – how can you make it better?

    Don’t forget your staff. Make it easy for them to share your content on their personal social accounts, and encourage them to do so. We trust people more than we trust brands, so think about how you can get your members to trust your team.

    2.      Authenticity

    People do business with people they know, like and trust. How can you show your true voice and be more human across every engagement and comment you make? A few ways your association can be more authentic is to do what you promise, listen to your members and engage with them, be honest about your mistakes and own them, and be consistent with your messaging.

    3.      Video

    Video is growing faster than ever and live video provides a lot of opportunity to show your true authenticity. Video, and especially live video (via Facebook, Instagram, Periscope/Twitter and YouTube), allows people to get to have access to you, which means they get to know, like and trust you more.

    People don’t expect live video to be fancy or scripted or beautifully presented. Do it when you have something to say and worry less about what you look like.

    4.      Importance of storytelling

    Storytelling is essential, as people relate more to stories than they do to facts and numbers. Sharing your stories helps increase your authenticity.

    5.      Create content where you own it

    Consistently great content will stand the test of time, but be sure you create it where you own it – such as on a blog, podcast or video. Don’t make the mistake of only creating content on social media platforms such as Facebook or Instagram, as you have no control over who can see these – most Facebook posts only reach 2% of your audience. Your database is one of your most valuable assets – think about how you can use it more effectively to reach your members.

    For more information on how you can use social media more effectively in your association, contact Mel Kettle on 0404 600 889, or check her out on LinkedIn

  • 29 Mar 2017 2:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Australian College of Nurse Practitioners (ACNP) is a young organisation with highly engaged members undertaking a journey from fledgling start-up to professional peak body. As with many modern-day professions, the Nurse Practitioner is quite new.  Many people – consumers – don’t know what nurse practitioners are, so greater awareness of the profession is needed. The nurse practitioner role originated in the US in the mid-1960s and began to gain recognition in Australia in 1990. We spoke to their CEO, Amanda Davis, about governance, Board challenges, and where to from here... read more

  • 29 Mar 2017 2:27 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We’re all aware of the changing demographics of our society, and the impact this will have on our organisations. For many member-based organisations this means creating relevance and value based on the problems experienced within different generations. For many organisations, a structured mentoring program offers a way to provide tangible value for members. For those more advanced in their careers it is an opportunity both to give back and to learn more about the challenges facing the younger generation. For young people, it is an opportunity to access one-on-one feedback and advice, and to establish networks within the industry. For the Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA) mentoring offered a solution to an even greater problem... read more


  • 29 Mar 2017 2:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    There are certain stories that I hear time and again from not-for-profit employees, that make me wish I’d kept a tally from the beginning. There should be a loyalty card that gets me a free coffee for every 10th time I hear it.  The story goes like this … “I have a friend” “I put a business case to the Board to request funds to do a new/better/up-to-date/more member-centric/more customer-centric/etc website. I reviewed our current system, highlighted our priorities, assessed potential providers, and presented a plan to move forward. Then one of the Board members said ‘I have a friend that creates websites, s/he will be able to do it for you. Talk to them.’ What should I do?” Sound familiar? Check out nine questions to ask to prevent derailment … read more

  • 22 Mar 2017 10:29 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The business world has changed how it communicates, with social media becoming increasingly common.


    It seems that there is a bright new shiny social media channel or technology every second week. What we need to remember, is that at the heart, nothing should have changed. People still do business with people they know, like and trust. Service excellence and consistency of value are essential to business success.


    In this workshop Mel will help you understand what is real and what is smoke and mirrors when it comes to effective communication today. Check out the video to see what she'll be covering in the session. 



  • 26 Oct 2016 8:12 AM | Anonymous

    There is a distinct difference in the "tone" of communications between associations who are successfully engaging their members and those who are performing poorly. 

    Those doing poorly have a very transactional communications style. It is geared only to convey information in a bland and unengaging manner. Eg: Welcome to the association. Your membership number is #. Your password is #. 

    Those engaging well have a very warm, friendly and engaging communication style. Eg: Welcome to the association. We are looking forward to meeting you face to face and helping you to make the most of your membership. Speaking of which, there is an event coming up in your area next week. Would you like to come along so I can introduce you around to some of the other members? 

    When writing communications to members I picture a specific member in my head and then pretend I am writing the communication specifically to them. 

    I Also keep in mind is the outcome I am trying to achieve. Eg: If the purpose is to get the new member activating a portion of their membership, then my entire communication is geared to achieve that action. 

    What kind  of experience have you have with member communications?

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