Why can’t chapter affiliation agreements be as simple?

I just finished reading an ASAE listserv exchange on social media policies and am prompted to ask why can’t chapter affiliation agreements be as simple?

In the past year, Peter and I have worked with or helped six different organizations refresh their affiliation agreements. Our mantra continues to be focus on the mission not the organization. And KISS. There are two good reasons most affiliation agreements fail.

  1. They are just too complicated to read or digest so they – like by laws, indemnification clauses, privacy clauses and strategic plans – are filed away. And no-one wants to raise a question so they often are unenforced – until something really wrong happens.
  2. They focus so heavily on the details that the relationship becomes built on details not the spirit. So suddenly it’s about how you are obeying the rules not how innovative or creative you are in moving the mission. Peter’s post offers a view of what happens next.

This age-old struggle with crafting effective affiliation agreements is being mirrored in a more recent conversation on developing social media policies. I think those in the components department should take a few notes from the social media conversation.

  • KISS – we are definitely evolving into a very simple formula for social media policies. Even the more conservative ones, like National Council on Family Relations is just 2 pages and written mostly in lay language. The Mayo Clinic has it even better – a 12-word policy. Head on over to Pinterest for a Debra Askanase’s curated list of examples.
  • No man’s an island – rather than thinking of this as a stand-alone and therefore piling everything into it, link it to other polices such as code of conduct, ethics, conflict of interest, and confidentiality. It becomes more friendly and reflects its part with the larger picture and further cements the idea that we are a community protecting and nurturing itself.
  • There are no absolutes – people change, economy changes, professions and trades change and so must the policies and procedures that guide our behavior. So it makes sense to avoid absolutes in the agreement and instead reference the shared agreement to abide by policies outside of the document.
  • There is no I in team – there many. Because social media policies focus on the individual, they engender responsibility in the very people that need to apply. While affiliation agreements are organization-to-organization, they are attempting to do the same. So how can you in crafting the affiliation agreement bring in the individual?

Check out Social Fish’s Social Media Risk and Policies for Associations in which Leslie White, Maddie Grant and Lindy Dreyer provide spot on insight that’s adaptable to affiliation agreement development.

Are you ready to rethink your agreement?